If your dog chases his tail because he's bored, excited or just exploring his body, you might not think anything of it and laugh at his silliness. What you don't know is you are reinforcing his tail-chasing behavior, which can sometimes be a starting sign of a compulsive disorder triggered by stress or anxiety. Obsessive tail-chasing can interfere with your dog's daily functioning and result in exhaustion or injuries. To avoid this, correct your dog's behavior and give him other ways to release his energy.
Observe your dog and, as soon as he attempts to chase his tail, ring a bell or clap your hands to stop him in his tracks. Ignore your pet companion and walk away. If he follows you, calmly tell him to sit or lie down, and when he does, reward him with a hug or treat. If he continues his tail-chasing now that he's got your attention, make the noise again, ignore him and walk away. Reward him when he stops and follows you. Be firm and keep repeating this sequence each time the tail-chasing starts. Your dog will associate chasing his tail with being ignored and not chasing his tail with getting attention -- most likely he'll stop the undesired behavior.
Increase your dog's daily exercise, because this can help keep him calm and relaxed so he doesn't feel the urge to chase his tail. Take him on walks and allow him to run or swim for at least half an hour each day. Play games like tug-of-war or fetch with him.
Keep your dog busy with chew toys or food-filled toys that require him to lick and chew. Licking and chewing have a calming effect on your pet companion.
Refrain from confining or isolating your pet companion in a small area, because this might cause anxiety and trigger the undesired tail-chasing behavior.
Consult a veterinarian if your efforts to redirect your dog's attention seem ineffective. He can rule out injuries or medical conditions that might trigger your dog's tail-chasing, and he might start your pet companion on anti-anxiety medication to help relieve your pal's stress.
Items You Will Need
- Dog treats
- Chew toys or food-filled toys
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Compulsive Behavior in Dogs
- The Good Behavior Book for Dogs: The Most Annoying Dog Behaviors... Solved!; Colleen Paige
- PetMD: Anxiety and Compulsive Disorders in Dogs
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images