Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Updated: August 09, 2022

"Aside from being a means of communication, it is also a way for dogs to express their needs, wants, and dislikes for something."

Not only are our dogs great friends, but they are also great entertainers, especially when they chase their tails. But why do dogs chase their tails? Most pet parents find it amusing when their furbabies start going after their own tails.

Generally, when dogs chase their tails, they do it for fun. However, when this tail-chasing habit becomes more frequent and nonstop, it can become concerning. But why do dogs chase their tails? What causes these to happen? Can it mean something serious?

Why Does My Dog Chase His Tail?

Your furbaby might be chasing their tails because of these reasons:

It is in their genes.

Why do dogs chase their tails? Sometimes, it is just because tail-chasing is an irresistible urge. Dogs who are chasing their tails may be doing so because of their genetic makeup. For still unknown reasons, according to this study, some dog breeds are more prone to chasing their tails than others. These dog breeds include German Shepherds, Bull Terriers, and Anatolian Sheepdogs.

They are bored.

Your furbaby needs various activities and exercises to maintain healthy physical and mental shape. When they get bored and lack the mental stimulation they need, they will think of ways to have fun and release some energy. Your dog may think of their tail as a toy and does not realize that it is a part of their body. This is particularly true for puppies. But as they grow old and mature or find something more interesting to do, this habit usually dies down.

dog chases tail, why dogs chase their tail

It’s important to provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental exercise. When your dog is bored, try using Pet Parents® Forager™ Mats or Forager™ Bowls for mental stimulation. These are snuffle mats and bowls made with visual cues of blue for added visual stimulation. Both are made with SnoftSnout™ material that is non-abrasive to sensitive nosed. Plus, they are machine washable for easy clean-up.

They are seeking attention.

If your dog’s tail-chasing gets positive attention from you, your family members, and even from strangers, they will think that this is one way to get your attention. So they will keep on doing it for you in order to get your attention. You might notice them performing for you whenever they want something from you, like food or attention.

There might be something wrong.

Another reason why do dogs chase their tails is that something could be wrong. You might notice a difference between a dog catching their tail playfully and a dog chewing tail skin. Dogs who chase their tail and nib and chew on them might signify that it might be a cause of concern. If you dog seems to be distressed when chasing their tail, it could be due to these reasons:

  • For pain, to provide soothing relief.
  • For allergic reactions and flea infestations, to ease excessive itchiness and discomfort. A dog chewing tail fur or skin can be a sign of itchiness.
  • For intestinal parasites, to ease irritation. Although there can be many possible reasons why your furbaby’s tail might be itching, intestinal parasites are one of the most common reasons. The presence of these may cause excessive itchiness and distress to your dog’s tail or rear end and may also cause them to rub their bottoms against rough surfaces or on the ground to ease the discomfort.
  • For anxiety, to signal that they are stressed out and anxious.
  • For trauma, it is a sign that your furbaby may have internal damage to its spine or tail. These as stated by Pets WebMD.
  • For habit, dogs who chase their tails very often may develop a compulsive habit where they will chase their tail very frequently and not easily stop the chasing when interrupted. If a fun game turns into an obsessive habit, it becomes a concern.

Note that when your furbaby chews, nibs, and licks their tail, it can get quite messy. It is best if you use Pet WiPees™ Dog All Purpose + Skin & Coat to clean the area and avoid any further irritations.

Understanding Compulsive Tail-Chasing

Most pet parents consider tail-chasing as a normal dog behavior, but sometimes when tail-chasing becomes impulsive, it begins to affect your furbaby’s quality of life greatly.


As stated by VCA Animal Hospitals, some dogs (just like people!) also suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The American Kennel Club states that OCD in dogs is identified as normal dog behaviors that are done in such an excessive, repetitious way that they become challenging for the dog to stop and can hinder their power to live a good life.

why do puppies chase their tails?

You can practice gentle redirection whenever your dog begins to chase their tail. Call their attention or give out commands like “Sit” to suspend the behavior and reward. However, when your dog’s tail-chasing can no longer be controlled by redirection, becomes uncontrollable, or begins to hurt them, the best thing you can do for your dog is to have them checked by your veterinarian. The best way to diagnose why this is happening to your furbaby is with the help of professionals.

How To Treat Compulsive Tail Chasing in Dogs

Compulsive tail chasing in dogs can occur. If your dog is chasing their tail obsessively, your veterinarian might do the following to help your furbaby in the best way possible:

Examine your dog’s physical health. Your vet will perform thorough physical exams on your dog. These physical exams may lead to discoveries of underlying medical conditions that may be causing your dog’s compulsive tail-chasing.

Examine your dog’s mental health. Aside from your furbaby’s physical health, their mental health is also as important. Your vet will examine your dog’s mental health and observe if there are any abnormal behaviors aside from excessive tail-chasing.

Give proper diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment plan. When your furbaby suffers from compulsive behaviors, most vets may offer medications that will help decrease the dog’s anxiety levels paired with behavioral training.

Why do dogs chase their tails? Dogs chase their tails maybe because they are bored, seeking attention, anxious, or feel the urge to chase their tails. If this happens occasionally, it us generally a form of entertainment or play. Sometimes it is also just because of their genes. However, be sure to monitor the habit because it could be a sign of an underlying illnesses.

All dogs are different. The reason why one dog is tail-chasing is completely different from the others. Dog needs, treatment plans, and behavioral training also differ. Sometimes tail-chasing becomes uncontrollable but they are manageable.

"When your dog is bored, try using Pet Parents® Forager™ Mats or Bowls for mental stimulation."