Tag Archives: Behavioural Problems

Common Behavioural Problems: Tail Chasing


Behaviour Banner

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.

Tail Chasing - Open Source Image
Tail Chasing – Open Source Image

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.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
. LinkedIn (Ali Holloway)

Common Behavioural Problems: Spraying (cats)


Behaviour Banner

Spraying – a form of communication, territorial marking, to signal mating status, indicator of health, and to show dominance. Spraying is a naturalnormal behaviour. It becomes a problem when it becomes excessive, and often in inappropriate places.

Cats will back up to a vertical surface (wall, table/chair leg, couch, door, bed, television…) twitch tail, and spray urine against the vertical surface.

Potential Causes:-
(a) Territorial Behaviour:
– another cat brought into a single-cat household
– a multi-cat household
– moving house/ getting an extension
– redecorating
– new cat(s) in the neighbourhood/territory

(b) Anxiety
– lack of owner attention (for attention)
– jealousy of other pet(s)/children/etc.
– change in routine
– social stressors
– environmental stressors
– new/unusual, (fairly) consistent smells (even as simple as new air freshener)
– negative encounters
– not enough litter trays for amount of cats

(c) Underlying Medical Problem
– consult vet ASAP
– urine crystals
– cystitis
– urolithiasis; struvites (urinary tract stones)
– other…

Cat Zoe
Happy Cat

Treatment Options:
Firstly, determine whether or not this is being caused by a medical issue, and your vet will be able to determine the best course of treatment. If there is no medical issue, then it is likely to be a behavioural issue. Successful treatment of this requires identification of the cause, and fixing of the cause or acceptance (from the animal) of the cause.

If you have a multi-cat household, to reduce the likelihood of unwanted spraying behaviour (and unwanted defecation), ensure that every cat has its own litter tray, and that there is a spare litter tray (or multiple spares for a larger group of cats). Ensure litter trays are in quiet places, not busy or open places; cats like privacy when going to the toilet.

Neutering is a big help, but will not eliminate the problem. Spraying is less common in neutered cats, but it will not prevent spraying. Males also spray more than females, but females do spray.

Feliway pheromone diffuser plug ins and sprays are also available. The release of pheromones helps to calm and reassure, especially in multi-cat households; it can relieve tension between cats.  The pheromone release relieves stress and can help stop your cat spraying; stop the behavioural issue.

Acceptance of the cause; teaching your cat(s) to accept a new addition – whether this is another cat, a dog, a rabbit (i.e. another pet), or a new baby or even just a new couch. You can help this by not comforting your cat when it initially freaks out. Do not berate your cat for this either. Just act normal, like the new addition is completely normal. If you comfort your cat, (s)he will believe (s)he’s being comforted because there is a reason to be freaked out and anxious about this new addition. Normal behaviour on your part will help your cat realise (s)he can behave normally despite this new addition too.

Multi-cat household
Multi-cat household

Cats that get along are less competitive, and far less likely to spray. You can encourage cats to get along by playing with your cats together; giving each one equal attention. Feed them together, and try to encourage them to sleep near to each other – not necessarily sharing the same bed, but within the same room. Provide differently levels for your cats within the home; the more dominant cat will sit higher up than the subordinate(s) – being able to show dominance/ hierarchy in this way is likely to reduce other dominant displays.

Try to keep routine, at least for your cat even if not for yourself – because, let’s face it, we quite often need to mix up our routine; but cats, no, cats like routine. They will patrol the same bit of their territory at (roughly) the same time, daily.  They will sleep, hunt, etc. at (roughly) the same times each day. Feeding, grooming/brushing, and other activities your cat requires you for should be kept in some kind of routine for your cat too.

Although spraying is a very obvious behaviour; know your cat(s) and learn to tell when (s)he is acting out of the ordinary so as to pick up on behavioural issues early.


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
. LinkedIn (Ali Holloway)

Common Behavioural Problems: Introduction


What is a behavioural problem?
(a) A natural behaviour that is undesirable to the owner, but very desirable to the animal.
(b) A natural behaviour that us undesirable to both owner and animal.
(c) An abnormal behaviour exhibited (and often done in repetition) that suggests the animal has an inability to cope with something in its environment (known as Stereotypical Behaviour).

Common Behavioural Problems:
– Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.)
– Coprophagia (eating faeces – not abnormal for certain species)
– Aggression
– Excessive Vocalisation
– Scratching/ biting/ kicking/ rearing/ bucking
– Anxiety
– Tail Chasing
– Feather Plucking/ Fur Pulling
– Chewing (things that they are not meant to chew)
– Hyper-excitability
– Excessive Grooming
– Wind Sucking/ Cribbing

Stereotypical Behaviours:
– Pacing
– Weaving/ Swaying
– Head Bobbing
– Circling
– Neck Twisting
– Bar Biting
– Rocking
– Self-Mutilation
– Vomiting (and then eating it, and vomiting again)
– Coprophilia (playing with faeces)
– Coprophaga (repeated)

How can behavioural problems be approached?
(1) Educating the owner
(2) Modifying the environment
(3) Modifying the animal


I will be doing some follow up posts on some of these behavioural problems, and some ways to tackle them. If you have anything specific you would like me to cover then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
. LinkedIn (Ali Holloway)