What Does It Really Mean When Dogs Chase Their Tails?

It never fails, when you watch your dog have a blast chasing their tail, it’s by far some of the best entertainment. But do you know what it really means when doggos do this bizarre yet hysterical behavior? Keep reading to find out!
Canva - Medium-coated Brown Dog Standing Inside Tiled Floor Room

To Escape Boredom

Dogs need exercise – both physical and mental. When you are away at work, most dogs are kept at home confined to staring at walls, or maybe a squirrel outside the window if they are free to roam outside of a kennel without supervision. A dog will chase their tail to expend some energy if they are bored as a way to keep their mind and body moving. If you observe your dogs doing a lot of tail-chasing, it may be a sign that you need to play ball or take them for a walk more.

For Attention

It’s a no brainer that our canine companions are as smart as a whip. Sometimes they even fake injuries for attention. So if you start petting or playing with your pup when you notice them chasing their tail, your dog will think they’re being rewarded for their behavior. It’s like how they learn to “sit” on command because they know you’ll give them a treat.  The best thing to do in this scenario is to ignore them. Once they stop chasing their tail, divert their attention to something else they love, like a ball.
Canva - Short-coated Brown Dog Lying on Floor Inside Room

Possible Medical Attention

If your dog is chasing their tail to scratch an itch, they may be trying to tell you there is something wrong. If they catch their tail and chew on it like a piece of corn on the cob, they may have a skin condition going on. Observe the spot on the tail for dandruff, redness, or swelling. If you find any, call your veterinarian. It can also be a sign of pain. Dogs will lick or chew at areas on their body that may be painful or uncomfortable.

Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

Believe it or not, dogs can also have OCD. Most of this stems from anxiety. Think of it as when a person gets anxious, they chew on their fingernails. When a dog feels anxious, they may chase their tail. It’s not uncommon for dogs to have anxiety, especially separation anxiety. There are all kinds of behavior modifications to help those anxious pups! If you feel your dog chases their tail when they feel anxious, contact your veterinarian for a behavior consult. Be sure to be descriptive when it happens, so the veterinarian can help narrow down the triggers that start it.
Canva - 8 weeks old smooth brown dachshund puppy on a sofa inside the apartment.

Age Factor

It is more common to witness puppies engaging in tail chasing than it is for adult dogs. However, at a young age, they are more likely doing it out of curiosity. They see something following them out of the corner of their eye, and they simply want to catch it to see what in the world it is!
Although tail chasing can be a harmless form of entertainment, it’s also a way your dog is trying to tell you something. Next time you see it, really pay attention to what your dog is actually doing. It might be to get your attention or to tell you they’re uncomfortable.
Do you know why dogs suck on blankets? Find out here. 
Sources: [1], [2]

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