Tail chasing can be a harmless behaviour; however, when performed regularly, and encouraged, can become a behavioural problem (and even damaging to the health of your dog).
Tail chasing (see video) often starts when the dog is young. When you have a puppy, and it is playing and bouncing around and being adorable and silly – and it chases that waggy thing behind it, and the pup is running in circles trying to catch that wild tail! You sit watching this cute display; cooing and talking to the puppy in your excited voice (you know the one I mean)! This, to your puppy, is encouraging the behaviour.
Try, despite how adorable it can be in a young dog, to discourage this behaviour. If you don’t, this behaviour may lead to obsessive compulsive behaviour or damaging attention seeking behaviour in your adult dog. The word compulsive is used to describe the repetitive, irresistible urge to perform a behaviour. Discourage this behaviour as a puppy, and throughout the life of your dog, to reduce the likelihood of this behaviour problem occurring.
Adult dogs with obsessive tenancies can become obsessed with catching their tail, and if they do, they can obsessively chew. The behaviour does not necessarily have a purpose to it, however the dog feels the need to perform it anyway – even past the point of pain. This can be severely damaging to the health of the dog, as obsessive chewing can occur past the point of pain and cause series damage (which can be a behavioural problem in and of itself). A dog who repeatedly performs a compulsive behaviour may find that it gets in the way of normal activity – normal life. Tail chasing becomes the primary need in the life of the dog – so much so that the dog may lose weight, due to missing meals performing the behaviour; the dog may become lethargic/ exhausted, due to staying awake more to perform the behaviour; the dog my become anxious when not performing the behaviour.
This type of behaviour is more likely to develop in dogs whose living conditions cause stress/ anxiety. Dogs in situations where they are stressed; which can contribute to the compulsive disorders developing. Such as; dogs who spend a lot of time tied up, or confined to living in small areas, or a dog experiencing social issues – long separation from a companion or discord in social relationships, for example. Dogs with the opportunity to perform normal dog behaviour, or do not get the chance to socialise with people and other animals can succumb to obsessive, compulsive behaviour. Alternatively, there could be an underlying medical issue causing the behaviour.
Seek advice from your vet if you suspect that your dog has an obsessive behaviour – your vet may refer you to a dog behaviourist. Your vet will also be able to tell you if the behaviour is being caused by a health issue, and treat any health problems caused by the behaviour.
Image is open source, Google images. The video is a YouTube video, from the search result of “dog tail chasing”. The image and video are NOT my own.
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