Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Dogs are odd. This is the reason we are so fond of our dogs. They like to play with them and lick their butts. They also want to chase sticks and even boop our legs. Dogs also like the pursuit of their tails.

However, do you think that tail chasing in dogs is cute, or could it be a sign that something is going wrong? We spoke to veterinarian behaviorists to learn why dogs chase each other and what to watch for.

Do Dogs Have a Right to chase their Tails?

Is tail-chasing an instinct that dogs have? The answer is yes but with a significant caveat. Dr. Leanne Lilly, a veterinarian behavioralist with The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says tail chasing by dogs can be just a type of play, but only if it’s short and intermittent and, in general, when your dog is young.

“Silly playing is usually seen in young animals,” adds Dr. Julia Albright, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. “Puppies that are up to 18 months old.”

The tail-chasing behavior of dogs is pretty easy to identify and recognize, Dr. Lilly says. “If they do just a couple of leaps, then catch it, and then let it go,” she says, it’s likely to be playing. “But If you spot an animal that chases its tail in a relentless manner and completely ignores other pursuits, it’s the time to bring him to the vet.”

Certain breeds are more likely towards tail-chasing than other breeds, Lilly says. Lilly adds. The Bull Terrier and German Shepherds are known to be tail chasers.

However, dogs’ normal, fun, harmless tail chasing is often a quick catch-and-release. Infrequent, persistent, or even violent tail chewing and chasing indicate something more worrying.

Why Do Dogs Have Tails That Chase?

When your pet moves around in circles, chasing its bizarre tail behavior is likely to raise a few concerns, including: Why is my dog running around and biting his tail? It? Is it because he believes it’s a toy? What’s so fascinating in the back?

Let’s look at some potential emotional and physical motives for dogs who chase their tails.


Dogs and wolves rarely chase their tails, according to Dr. Lilly says, but captive wolves (and particularly captive big cats, for that matter, FYI) often do. This could be one of the reasons that aren’t play-related dogs may chase their tails tension.

“Dogs may use this to cope,” Dr. Lilly states. It’s something to focus on when they’re stressed or angry.

Dr. Albright says that one of her three dogs is eager to walk and is frustrated when he’s unable to leave the house. Sometimes, he chases after his tail. But the bottom chasing him appears different than the dog that might be suffering from a medical problem around the back. “It’s not running around,” she says. However, it’s her dog trying to relieve some of his tension.


As humans can suffer from OCD behavior and tics, it’s the same for dogs. Dr. Albright says, so do dogs. Tail chases could be one of the symptoms. According to her, the behavior may be triggered by some stressor, and then continue in the absence of anything stressing the dog. This is where the inclinations of German and Bull Terrier Shepherds to chase may be at play. However, it’s not a good idea to think your dog is following his tail simply because his breed is likelier to do so.

Discomfort, Pain, and Medical Problems

The tails of dogs are lively, intricate structures. They are the limbs of muscles, vertebrae cartilage, and nerves which means that their seats are vulnerable to damage to nerves, injuries, and infection and disease like any other part of their body. “Tail discomfort is the main reason behind tail-chasing,” Dr. Lilly states.

If you have any medical issue affecting your dog’s tail, he may try to capture and chew it in hopes of fixing the problem. “Many medical conditions could lead to tail chases,” Dr. Albright suggests.

A few tail-related issues in dogs can be simple to deal with, like:

Other causes of tail-chasing in dogs could become more severe, for example:

  • Skin injury
  • Tumors
  • Arthritis
  • Bone fractures or bone infections
  • Damage to the spinal cord

Since dogs aren’t able to let us know what they feel, Some indicators of tail problems to be on the lookout for are:

  • Limp tail
  • The pain is felt when it is touched
  • Swelling
  • The bottom has bumps, kinks, or bends.

Doctor. Lilly says that dogs constantly chasing their tails or excessively spinning in one direction may indicate discomfort or pain in an area of their body close to the hind end of the dog’s back.

The excessive spinning of the tail (though less often) could signify a more significant problem. “There’s always the possibility that a behavior that is repeated could be a sign of seizure or another mental disorder.” Dr. Lilly states. She suggests pet owners should consider visiting a veterinarian and not make assumptions.

How do you stop a dog from chasing its tail?

The best method for dogs to be stopped from following the tails of their owners is to figure out why they’re doing it in the first initial.

Our experts suggest that tail-chasing that lasts longer than 10 minutes and for dogs older than one couple of years needs to be dealt with medically. “For any behavior that isn’t normal, a veterinarian is an ideal place to begin,” Dr. Lilly states. “Always consult a doctor first.”

Also, Don’t think your pet is acting out. Your veterinarian or veterinarian behaviorist identifies more severe problems first. After you have managed to rule out any medical issues, There are steps that pet owners can take to stop chases by dogs’ tails.

Don’t: Encourage. Your dog’s routine of chasing his tail may be a method of gaining attention. If you smile or by some other means give your dog praise when he’s pursuing his backside, says Dr. Lilly, “it’s like screaming ‘ice cream’ in the kids’ birthday party.”

Do: Redirect. “Whenever we need dogs to go to an alternate location,” says Dr. Albright, “we redirect.” When the dog is in mid-spin, she tells her, “Call him away, gently. You can ask him to perform different things.” If he is doing tricks, this could be the perfect time to let one or two out. You could go for a walk or play with a toy. If he’s still unable to master how to play, maybe now you can show him how to do a few.

Don’t: Redirect your dog’s attention with food. Food rewards are a suitable training method for dogs. If you provide him with treats for not spinning, he’ll likely quickly discover ways to game you for treats post-spinny.

Do not: Restrain. Dr. Albright suggests that you don’t try to physically restrain or stop your dog from running around. This will only increase the dog’s stress and cause more stress.

Tail Chasing in Dogs Other Tips

Tail chasing doesn’t occur in the vacuum. It could occur due to that vacuum! In other words, stress reactions have precursors that signal that behavior is about to start.

Dr. Albright says the best pet owners can do is to learn to identify the triggers that cause behaviors such as spinning and tail-chasing in dogs. It could be anything: the vacuum cleaner, mailman, noisy garbage trucks, or children playing nearby. Does your dog begin running or spinning whenever these items appear in his area? If he’s blocked from seeing what’s creating anxiety, can he leave it?

Dr. Lilly says pet parents can overcome these patterns after identifying what triggers a stress-inducing tail-chasing episode among dogs. If you know when the garbage truck arrives, you can turn off an audio or music that your dog likes to block out the sounds from the vehicle. If you are aware that it is at the exact time repeated stressor happens, and you have a food bowl that has timers can teach your dog to imagine the garbage truck or the afternoon siren, or even the mail carrier’s arrival as an opportunity to have a snack and a snack, Dr. Lilly says. The ability to avoid and associate with, she adds, can go a long way.

The most important thing for dog owners is to be attentive to their pets, not assume that tail chasing is just your dog acting out, and consult an animal behaviorist or vet if your dog is constantly frequently chasing his tail.

The whole thing of sniffing your butt, however, you’ll have to deal with this one.

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