Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?


We’ve all seen it.  In real life, in the movies, and even in cartoons.  Some dogs just absolutely love to chase their tails.  Round and round they go, a futile effort of course, but they seem to completely disregard the fact that they cannot really ever catch their tail, and just have a blast doing it anyway.  Puppies especially will do awesomely hilarious things, zoom around through the room with wild abandon, find their tail and chase it till they are hiccuping with dizziness, and then fall asleep in their bowl while eating food.

So why do dogs chase their tails?  Well, the obvious reason is for fun or because they are bored, but there are actually a few reasons dogs chase their tails you may not expect. Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tail?The action of chasing is an instinct as old as dogs itself, it is one of their most basic instincts.  Back in the wild pack days, dogs instinctively chased after their prey, as it would mean a nice meal for the night.  Not only was it important for them to be alert and able to chase at all times, it was literally how they survived.  Although now we put their food in a nice bowl, and they do not have to chase to eat anymore, they most certainly have not lost the instinct.  Most dogs absolutely love to chase cats, birds, squirrels, and other dogs.  You will seldom see as much joy out of a dog as when they are chasing something (fetch, anyone?).  So why of all these things, do dogs chase their tails?  Well firstly, because of their instinct, sometimes when they are running around they will see the motion of the tail and just chase it because it’s moving.  Seriously!  Although mostly puppies do this, many of the more hyperactive breeds will also do this.  Which leads us into the second reason, dogs will chase their tail to release boredom, stress, or just energy in general.  Some dogs will learn to chase their tails more often if they sense their owner (or pack leader alpha!) enjoys or laughs when they chase their tail, not unlike any other behavior.  However, if you stop your dog from chasing their tail and they redirect aggression towards you, they may have an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Dogs can develop this trait just like humans although with dogs it expresses itself in predatory or compulsory physical behavior.  If your dog is showing these signs, take them to the vet to sort it out, obsessive-compulsive disorder is just as uncomfortable for them as it can be for us.  Most of the time, though, they are chasing their tail due to plain old boredom, they want to play with someone and all they have is their tail.  So if your dog is recurrently chasing its tail, they probably need some more time from you, or a new toy!