Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Whether it’s right in your house or a park, the odds of seeing a dog chasing their tail are pretty high. Often than not, it is the source of a few good laughs, but have you wondered why they do it? When your dog only occasionally chases their tail, it may be harmless. However, if it seems to happen more often than usual, there could be a problem. 

Here are some reasons why your dog is chasing their tail constantly:


One of the main reasons your dog may be chasing their tail could be boredom. If your dog isn’t getting sufficient physical and mental stimulation, they may result in such antics. It serves as a way to keep them entertained and get rid of excess energy. 


Playfulness is especially common in puppies that do not recognize the tail as part of their body yet. If they spot a fuzzy object in the periphery of their vision, they quickly assume it’s another animal worth chasing. As they grow, they explore and discover new things about their anatomy. There is no need to worry if your puppy is being a tad too playful since running in circles doesn’t appear to make them feel dizzy.

Ticks and fleas

Ticks and fleas may cause your dog’s tail to become really itchy. Such an infestation may cause your dog to chase their tail and bite in a bid to find some relief. If you suspect that fleas and ticks may be the reason why your dog is chasing their tail, check their skin for small brown or dark specks that may denote flea feces. Bad patches are also a tell-tale sign of fleas infestation that causes excessive scratching and licking. 

Attention seeking

Are you giving your dog attention? People often get amused when a dog chases its tail, so the dog continues with the chase to please their owners. If your dog feels like they aren’t getting enough attention, they will go to all lengths to get a reaction from you, including chasing their tail. Even though they may receive a reprimand, your dog will consider it a win-win. 


Repetitive behaviors such as tail chasing may be a symptom of anxiety. Dogs use repetitive behaviors as a source of comfort to release stress. They may default to a specific behavior pattern known as a coping compulsion whenever they feel nervous. Some situations that may trigger your dog’s anxiety include aggression from another pet, small living areas such as a crate, lack of opportunities to socialize, physical and mental abuse, and frightening experiences. 

Medical conditions

Compulsive and obsessive behavior may result from an underlying health condition such as pain, seizures, infection, or cancer. If you have ruled out other reasons that may cause your dog to chase their tail, it is best to ensure they have no underlying medical issues. Get in touch with a vet to find out the root cause.


A genetic predisposition may lead to certain compulsive behaviors, such as chasing their tail. Dobermans, for example, are known for flank sucking. The National Center for Biotechnology Information published evidence that breeds such as Bull terriers, German Shepherds, and Anatolian sheepdogs are likely to chase their tails.

How to Manage Tail Chasing in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog’s tail-chasing behavior is compulsive and is starting to interfere with their day to day life, here are a few things you can do to keep the behavior in check:

  • Act early: It is vital to act early once you notice your dog is obsessively chasing their tail. Before it becomes a conditioned response, have your dog’s physical health examined to identify any underlying medical conditions.
  • Examine your dog’s mental health: If your dog is healthy and pain-free, their mental health and behavioral characteristics should be examined by a vet. If your dog suffers from anxiety or mental issues, your vet should help you find ways to manage and treat these problems. 
  • Increase daily activities: Increase the time spent walking your dog to provide more physical exertion and include some mental games. Brain puzzles and interactive toys are a great way to engage your dog’s mind. 
  • Spend time with your dog: Set time aside daily to spend with your dog, whether playing or cuddling. Dogs are social creatures that need attention, love, and care from their owners. 
  • Discourage this negative behavior: Do not give your dog attention when they start chasing their tail, as this only encourages them to keep doing it. Ignore the behavior or use commands that discourage it. 

A dog chasing its tail may seem harmless and great entertainment, but it is also essential to keep an eye on this behavior. Remember, if your dog considers their tail as prey, they may inflict harm on themselves. 

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