why does my dog chase her tail
Manвs best friend can provide all kinds of fun and laughter just by being a dog, but perhaps nothing is more amusing than when your pup suddenly starts to obsess over her own tail and begins spinning around in circles, trying vainly to catch it. This is a sight that can incite laughter in even the most serious of people, but why exactly does it happen? Can it develop into something more serious? Why do dogs chase their tails so suddenly and obsessively? Here are a few reasons dogs chase their tails. Boredom Oftentimes, dogs will chase their tails because they are a bit bored; itвs a way for them to have fun and expend some energy. This is especially true for puppies, who may not even realize that their tail is actually a part of their body, but see it as a toy. Generally, as dogs age, this kind of play dies down. Attention Do you tend to watch and laugh when your dog starts chasing his tail? If he is receiving positive attention from you by engaging in the act, it may cause him to do it whenever he wants you to take notice and play with him. Somethingвs wrong If you notice your dog really going after her tail a lot and trying to nip at it and chew on it, you may want to schedule a trip to the vet. Sometimes dogs will chase their tails because they are being bothered by worms or fleas or experiencing some other kind of medical issue. Genetics For reasons that we still donвt really understand, breeds like German shepherds and terriers tend to engage in tail-chasing more than other breeds в even as they grow older. This happens even more when dogs have been trapped indoors for too long. Compulsion Some dogs may develop a compulsive disorder that involves chasing their tail. These kinds of behavioral problems can come about for many reasons в confinement, physical abuse, past injury or trauma, separation anxiety, and so on в and need to be addressed.
If your dog is compulsively chasing his tail, he can cause serious damage by biting and chewing on it when he finally does catch it. Dogs have been known to experience hair loss on their tails due to this kind of behavior and even cause themselves injury. What it boils down to is if you notice that your dog seems to be chasing after her tail an excessive amount, the best thing you can do for her health is to have her checked out by a veterinarian. Itвs quite possible that sheвs perfectly fine, but if she isnвt, the best way to diagnose the problem is with the help of a medical professional. Does your dog display any obsessive behavior? Tell us all about it in the comments.
By nature, dogs are playful and itвs not uncommon for them to occasionally chase their tails. It can become a problem, however, when it becomes repetitive, excessive, causes injury or interrupts your dogвs daily functioning. If you find you cannot distract your dog from chasing his or her tail, or you think itвs become more frequent or compulsive, head to your vet for a check-up. There may well be underlying medical issues that need to be treated. В Why do dog chase their tails? There are a number of reasons a dog may chase his or her tail. It could just be an expression of a playful temperament or a short phase in puppy-hood. However itвs important you establish the cause early on so you can assess whether veterinary treatment is required. Some animals have a known genetic predisposition to compulsive behaviours like tail chasing. For example, flank sucking is common in Dobermans and whirling in Bull Terriers. The age of your dog might also be a factor. Sudden onset of tail chasing is common in older dogs and often signals a psychological or medical condition. In puppies, however, it can be a harmless expression of play. Dogs are social animals and thereвs nothing they love more than the attention and affection from their master.
If a dog learns that by chasing their tail they get attention from their owner, the behaviour is much more likely to persist. Even negative attention, such as reprimanding a dog, may act as a positive reinforcement. Boredom is often touted as a reason for tail chasing, however itвs usually not boredom but rather an inadequate level of physical activity thatвs the cause. If your dog has a great need for aerobic exercise, he or she might engage in tail chasing to exert energy. If this is the case, the behavior should cease once activity levels increase. В If an animal receives an injury to the tail (such as being slammed in a door), he or she will often try to ease the discomfort by tail chasing. Other superficial conditions such as skin irritation or parasite bites (eg. fleas) may also cause the behaviour. Tail chasing can also be the symptom of an underlying anxiety or psychological issue. В The behaviour commonly begins with the dog chasing or scratching at the tail after an injury or irritation. As the behavior is comforting for the dog, it can quickly become a habitual response to all other threats, even after the tail has healed or the irritation has gone. In these instances, the dog is said to have become вconditionedв. While difficult to treat, this form of anxiety can be somewhat prevented if intercepted early enough. There are some neurological conditions that can cause a dog to whirl or chase his or her tail. Whilst rare, severe tail chasing has been attributed to epilepsy and is sometimes described as a seizure-related symptom. For some dogs, the behaviour will disappear naturally, for others veterinary intervention may be required to properly diagnose and treat the underlying conditions. В As a rule of thumb, if the behavior is getting more frequent or persists longer than a week, see your vet.
They will usually run a series of diagnostic tests to rule out underlying medical causes including neurological disorders, injury and allergy. If the cause is psychological, more comprehensive treatment may be required. If your dog is chasing his or her tail, itвs important to act early. If there is an underlying medical issue, it may be easily treated before it becomes a conditioned response. If your vet identifies the cause as psychological, you may need to implement a behavioural modification program. This requires the owner to identify and predict when the dog is likely to chase his or her tail and and initiate an alternate activity, such as playing with a ball, training, feeding or a chew toy. Itвs important this is done before the tail chasing begins. Your dog will then learn to self-comfort in other ways. If you have been rewarding the behaviour with positive attention or treats, you will need to remove all rewards and may need to reduce attention by turning or walking away (and ignoring the behaviour). Lowered serotonin and increased dopamine levels may be associated with compulsive disorders such as tail chasing. If it isn't possible to bring your dogвs behaviour under control by changing his or her environment, then it may be necessary to try drug therapy, such as anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications. While it can take several weeks for medications to be effective, it can be a great intermediary step to bring compulsive behaviour under control. В Donвt give the behaviour any attention (positive or negative) в ignoring it is best. Increase your dogвs activity levels. Ensure you dog has interactive toys like KongВ stuffed with peanut butter. Monitor your dogвs skin and general health and seek veterinary advice if you detect problems or the tail chasing persists.
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