Why do our pets chase their tails?

(photo: doglistener.co.uk)

Whether you are studying your own pet’s behaviour at home, or scanning through the hundreds of animal videos on Youtube, you will have no doubt seen examples of how clever pets can be. A tilt of the head when we reprimand them and we are convinced they understand the gravity of what they have done (rightfully so or not). Some owners have even reported more incredible things, posting videos showing their pets relocating their beds to a warmer part of the house or knowing their left from right on command.


But is the act of chasing their tails showing our pets up to be slightly less clued up?


Bristol University researchers are looking into the science of this. Collecting results from a group of 50 dogs, they have been researching the behavioural science behind this phenomenon and hope to find out the reasons why:

Is it attention seeking behaviour? Acquired behaviour as a result of our enjoyment of seeing it happen? Maybe this even has an impact on their normal routines?

The researchers interviewed explain that they “hope to be able to identify dogs that are starting to spin and stop it from developing to the point where they are doing it almost to the complete exclusion of other, more normal types of behaviour.”


Until more conclusive results are drawn from those studies, our own vet would like to point out that although this could be completely normal behaviour (where your pet is simply seeking attention) it could also be highlighting some more serious behavioural issues such as a lack of energy-releasing activities during the day, signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder or could even be due to medical causes such as injury, flea bites or epilepsy, especially in older dogs.  In any case, we would recommend, as usual if you have any doubts or worry on the subject, to go and check directly with your vet.


Do you own a “spinning dog” or have a view of why you think your pet does this?

We would love to hear your stories, as regardless of the reason for this behaviour, we love our pets whatever they do!


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One comment

  1. Hi my name is Jennie. I have a 2yr rescue shepherd called Belle, she started tail chasing nearly 2mths ago, have been in constant contact with my vet, tried different medication to rule out obvious causes, Belle is on Prozac & Diazapan at moment, & with help from my friend who is a vet & behaviorist we are hoping this will help stop Belle? she was also born with small kidneys so have to watch what medication she has. Paws crossed.

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