Most dogs prefer to chase their tail. This behavior is quite common among dogs, but owners cannot always figure out the reasons for this behavior in their pets.
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There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon, as well as ways to prevent it, experts tell Live Science.
Young puppies may simply chase their tails for fun. Especially young puppies may not yet be fully aware that their tails are actually part of their body.
Another reason could be boredom, especially when dogs are left alone for long periods of time.
“When a dog doesn’t have enough variety of experiences or adequate physical activity, he may become bored and restless,” says dog behavior consultant Russell Hartstein in an interview with Live Science.
To prevent boring tail chasing, simply offer your dog a game of fetch or a walk. According to experts, most dogs prefer to chase a ball rather than their tails.
According to Hartstein, another reason dogs chase their tails may be a desire for attention. The owner can reward this behavior with laughter or words like “well done” or “good boy.” Even indignation can attract attention and reinforce the behavior. To reduce tail chasing, you should ignore this behavior while giving your dog plenty of attention in other situations.
“Some dog breeds have a predisposition to tail chasing. For example, bull terriers and German shepherds are known for their tendency to engage in compulsive behaviors such as tail chasing,” a geneticist at the University of Helsinki reports, according to Live Science Hannes Lohi.
Unfortunately, tail chasing can be associated with health problems for your pet. Tail injury, itching from intestinal parasites or fleas, or food allergies can cause a dog to chew or chase its tail. If a dog suddenly begins chasing or chewing its tail, owners should contact a veterinarian.
Finally, tail chasing may be associated with neurological disorders such as compulsive disorder.
In a 2012 study, Hannes Lohi and colleagues examined 368 dogs of four breeds known to be predisposed to tail chasing. The behavior typically began between 3 and 6 months of age, with nearly half of the tail-chasing dogs also exhibiting other compulsive behaviors, such as walking in repetitive patterns, more frequently than normal dogs.
“Interestingly, dogs that received nutritional supplements, especially vitamins and minerals, exhibited less tail chasing compared to dogs that did not receive any supplements,” says Hannes Lohi.
Neutered females also showed less tail chasing during the experiment, indicating the influence of ovarian hormones on tail chasing. Additionally, compared to dogs that don’t chase their tail, dogs that chase their tail are often more shy and separate from their mothers early, he adds.
If the dog is generally healthy, regular training and engaging their mental and emotional side of life can help stop tail chasing, Hartstein says. There is nothing wrong with spending more time with your dog, ensuring it is satisfied and fulfilled in every way.