Dogs have a number of strange habits that range from spinning in circles before they poop to kicking up the lawn afterward. One of the weirdest habits they however have is chasing their own tails around and around.
The habit of chasing their tails around is a strange one for humans, but tail-chasing is a way for dogs to burn off some steam. In most cases, they are whirling repeatedly for one of two reasons: They’re bored or they’re stressed.
If a dog doesn’t have anything or anyone to play with, it might need to entertain itself—in this case, by playing with its tail. On the other end of the spectrum, the behaviour could be a warning sign that your pet is anxious or stressed.
Animal behavioural experts refer to this habit as displacement behaviours, which has been described as similar to a human twirling their hair or tapping their foot. They seek to do self-soothing behaviours.
One reason dogs go for tail-chasing is that they start playing with their tails as playful puppies learning about their bodies. Pet owners usually laugh at the activity, so the dog learns it can get attention when it whirls.
It’s normal for dogs to chase their own tails every now and then, but you may want to watch out if your pet is doing it every day or it seems to become an obsession. A constantly bored or stressed dog might be feeling neglected, so you may want to ensure that it has its basic needs such as exercise and socialization met.
If the tail-chasing started suddenly, you may want to consider visiting the vet. Your dog might be reacting to a medical issue, such as cognitive dysfunction, epilepsy, or tapeworm. The sooner you get a medical checkup, the better.
You may think if you just wait, it will get better on its own, but behaviours get more intense and ingrained into your pet. With some treatment and extra training, you and your pooch will both be happier.