THRILL OF THE CHASE
Have you ever seen a dog chasing its own tail? Our pets are funny little critters and tail chasing appears to be just another crazy antic. The important question is, “Can it develop into something more serious?” For those pets where this behaviour is repetitive, excessive, causes injury or interrupts their daily functioning, it’s definitely cause for concern.
In most cases, intermittent tail chasing is just playfulness. In pups, they are just learning about their little tails and are often fascinated by this wiggly waggly appendage. They should lose interest as they mature.
So why does this compulsive tail-chasing behaviour develop in the first place? A genetic predisposition is commonly responsible – German shepherds, English bull terriers and cattle dogs are recognised affected breeds.
Believe it or not, it may be an attentionseeking behaviour – what better way to get your master’s attention then by repeatedly whirling around in circles?
Any attention given to this behaviour – positive or negative – can reinforce it. And spare a thought for our anxious little pets, with tail chasing a symptom of an underlying psychological issue – very comforting for highly-strung pooches.
Next comes boredom. Tail chasing is a way for them to have fun.
Sometimes, just increasing activity levels will cure the behaviour.
Medical reasons for tail chasing must be ruled in or out by your vet. I have seen tail injuries that result in obsessive tail chasing – starting as a soothing behaviour and then becoming a habit. Irritation caused by intestinal worms, fleas or enlarged anal glands, is another common cause.
Increase your pooch’s activity levels and environmental enrichment. Also monitor skin and general health – seek vet advice if you’re worried as early intervention is best. They may even suggest enlisting a behaviour specialist.