Why do dogs chase their tails?

Why do dogs chase their tails?

It’s quite an amusing sight. One moment your dog is sitting, tongue out and looking happy. Next thing you know, your dog is spinning in circles chasing its own tail. The chasing could go on non-stop for quite a while. Sometimes even distracting your dog has been proven difficult once the chase begins.
If you’re worried about the chasing and whirling, then you shouldn’t be. This kind of behavior is not uncommon among puppies. Older dogs up to nine years can even be seen chasing their tails relentlessly. However, it’s when your dog begins biting or chewing on your tail that red flags should be raised.
There are several reasons as to why dogs chase their tail. Read on more to find out why dogs chase their tails and what you could do.

Dogs Chase Their Tails ‘Cause They Want to Have Fun

Young puppies will want to play with just about anything that comes within their vision. Whether it’s a ball, a rope, or a fly buzzing by, the world is quite delightful for them. So, if your young puppy suddenly discovers its tail flopping around aimlessly, it might want to try to grab it. Dogs chase their tails as a form of self-entertainment.
Usually, the older a dog gets, the less that tail-chasing occurs. This is probably because, by then, they’ve discovered that their tail is in fact attached to their own bodies. Where’s the fun in that?

Dogs Just Want Love and Attention

Dogs are social creatures, and part of what makes them so social is their need to exchange love and joy between themselves and another dog or human. If your dog noticed that you’re laughing or giving him/her attention once the tail chasing becomes, then this will trigger a pattern in your dog’s brain. Tail-chase equals laughter and attention, hoorah!
If you think it’s adorable, then perhaps you can treat your dog with some snacks afterwards to get their dopamine levels rolling. You could also train your word to respond to a command, like “Chase” or to begin chasing his/her tail.

Does Your Dog Have an Allergy or a Skin Problem?

If your dog is not only chasing its tail, but also biting or gnawing at it, then you should put your camera down and go to a vet. Dogs chase their tails as a form of self-entertainment. However, once they begin biting at their tails, this could mean that they have an itch or irritation that they are trying to relieve.
In that case, get your dog a medical check-up at the vest, and ask if there are any worms, fleas or medical issues that you or your dog should be concerned of. Your dog might also have skin irritation problems like a rash from a plant or a product that you’re using on your dog. Track your dog’s behavior and see what triggers them to begin chasing their tail.

It’s All in the Genes

Two german sheperds playing
Two german sheperds playing

Not all dogs chase their tails, no matter how bad you want it to happen. Some dogs are more likely to begin the tail-chasing than others. These include German Shepherds and Terriers – who can be very difficult to distract when they chase their tails. Why these dogs chase their tails more than others could be related to their hunting genes. Such dogs will not necessarily grow out of chasing their tails as they grow older.
Lonely dogs are also likely to begin chasing their tails. If you are a busy pet-owner, then your dog has found a way to keep him/herself entertained on those long days you spend outside of your home.

Your Dog Has a Traumatic History

When dogs chase their tails, it’s cute. But sometimes this is a sign for an urgent medical intervention. If your dog seems to be compulsively chasing their tail, then this could be a behavioral problem. Behavioral problems happen in a person or animal for reasons related to psychological damage or a history with abuse or loneliness.
If that’s the case, then you can seek treatment for your dog to get better. You can do so from the confinements of your own home. By giving your dog frequent attention, feeding them on time, and taking them for walks, your dog will begin to trust and love its home.
Be careful not to let dogs chase their tail without finding out about their past first. Anxious dogs will bite on their tails, which can cause breaking of bones or loss of fur on their tails.

Distract Your Dog

If your dog has displayed symptoms of chasing their own tail, then there are several things you could try. Before going to the vet, make sure that you try to play games with your dog and other methods of distraction. If your dog is busy with toys and an active lifestyle, then they might not find the time or mental capacity to start chasing their tails.
Another way to stop your dog from chasing its tail is by teaching him/her a command. Use a word like “sit” or “down” and use a toy to distract your dog, and try to get it to sit down.
With training your dog, it’s important to reward them with snacks or treats. This will help reaffirm their good behavior and encourage them to sit down the next time you use the command. Whenever you use the command on cue, you’ll find that your dog will automatically stop in order to get a doggy treat.


This kind of distraction will take several tries, and will require you to be patient. Don’t lash out on your dog for not responding accordingly, because this could cause them to have feelings of self-doubt. If your dog begins to feel negative, then this could reinforce OCD patterns of chasing their tails and other behaviors like biting and chewing on their own tail.
If your dogs’ behavioral disorders seem too difficult to stop, then it’s probably time that you seek medical attention from a professional.

Signs That it is a Good Time to Take Your Buddy to the Vet

Dogs whirling can be cute when they are young puppies. However, when they got older, it’s usually common for that kind of behavior to die down. It could happen from time to time that an older dog chases their tail.
However, if your dog is older and continues to chase its tail more than frequently, then this could be a sign of behavioral dysfunctions. Similar to humans, dogs can behave compulsively when their emotions and psychology are tampered with. Some behavioral disorders in dogs include obsessively licking or chewing themselves or on an otherwise flavorless object.


Some dogs will chase their tails if they’ve been kept indoors for a chronically long period of time. If your dog is confined in a small space or indoors for too long, then this will cause disturbance in their habits and lead them to act on unhealthy behaviors.
If your dog seems to be obsessively chasing its tail, then perhaps it’s time that you pay your vet a visit. There, the veterinarians and professionals can take care of giving your dog the medical attention that it needs. They can also provide you with further tips and instructions on what to do next, and how to keep your dog at a mentally healthy status. It’s better not to hold off the trip to the vet for too long, as the longer you wait, the more difficult it is to change your dogs habits.

Don’t Laugh at your Dog

Dogs are relatively adaptable creatures due to their social nature. If you are active and have a healthy relationship with your puppers, then their nature will mold accordingly. If you spend your time laughing at your dog, on the other hand, your dog might react in embarrassment. This will not help deescalate the strain that your pet is going through.
Due to dogs’ wide emotional aptitude, they are able to pick up on the atmosphere in the household. If you feel like you have a partner, family member or roommate who isn’t compatible with your dog, then find an environmental setting which is suitable for all parties involved. You want to find a space for your dog where they feel comfortable, and where there isn’t any fear or aggressive behavior involved in the environment.

What You Should Do as a Dog Owner

If you are a dog owner or are planning on getting a dog, then you should make sure that you have a dedicated amount of time in the day solely towards your dog. Whether it’s by playing games with them and keeping them entertained or going for long walks or jogs.
If your dog lives in a healthy environment, this will reduce the chances of them adapting to OCD behaviors. It could begin with chasing their tails, but more odd behaviors may surface like chronic licking on chewing on themselves. This could escalate into a whole range of other problems like unintentionally inflicting self-harm, loss of hair, wounds, and scars.
If you are patient and attentive with your dog, you will find that they will be the most lovable and loyal companions in your life.

I hope this post answers all your questions about this topic “why do dogs chase their tails?”

Have you experienced this? Was it a problem and how did you make it stop? Tell us in the comments, we love to hear your stories

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