The Logic Behind a Canine's Obsession with Chasing Its Tail
When we watch a dog play, we can't help but laugh. One of the most iconic dog tricks involves the dog running in endless circles while chasing its own tail. Even though we find his antics amusing, whatever is causing him to chase his tail may not be so funny.
Why can't my dog see he's just playing?
Extended periods of isolation can be stressful for dogs. Dogs can get bored just sitting around all day. Dogs can get bored even in the great outdoors because their backyards don't offer enough variety. And how do dogs pass the time and expend their boundless energy? When they chase after their tails, it's a form of exercise and fun.
Tail chasing can be easily prevented in dogs who aren't getting enough daily exercise. The tail chasing could end if dogs got more aerobic exercise, like when their owners took them for walks or threw balls for them to chase. Actually, canines would rather play with a ball than their own tails. Owners can help their dogs with boredom by providing them with challenging, brain-twisting food puzzles.
Can old age be a factor?
Both young and old dogs frequently gnaw on their tails. When puppies first become aware of their bodies, they chew on their tails. Dogs must be wondering, "What is that thing that keeps following me?" I think I'll go ahead and take it and look at it. Rather than an anatomical appendage, puppies see the tail as a fun plaything. Most cases of juvenile tail chasing resolve on their own without any help from adults.
As a counterexample, older dogs often chew their tails because they are less self-aware. Cognitive decline can cause canines to resort to habits like compulsive tail-chewing. In this case, the need for medication to alter behavior is suggested by the presence of chewing.
Does this person want to be the center of attention?
Since most onlookers find it funny when a dog chases his tail, the dog will likely keep it up if his owner encourages it. If you reward your dog after the chase, he'll learn that doing so gets him the attention he craves. The tail chasing behavior is a request for attention and play.
Bad news: dogs that need constant attention react positively and negatively to attention. If your dog is desperate for attention, he may not mind being reprimanded. He would much rather have you laugh at his antics than scold him, but even a reprimand is attention, and thus reinforces the behavior. The counterintuitive solution to this type of "tail chasing" It's best for owners to ignore their dogs when they're circling and reward them when they're not.
Do we have a medical emergency Is there possibly a problem here?
Please consult your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms: tail chasing or biting Like humans massaging an aching knee, dogs will chew at a sore spot if it helps. When a dog's tail is injured, such as by being caught in a door or being nicked by a sharp object, the dog may try to chase and chew at its tail in an attempt to relieve the pain.
stomach ache from food intolerances or flea bites "
Intestinal parasites, such as tape worms, can cause a dog to chase its tail if the worms escape through the rectum. Itching from fleas or food allergies can also cause your dog to chase its tail. Nipping at the tail is also a common symptom of discomfort in the tail area, such as from an impacted anal gland or neurological issues affecting this area.
Veterinarians should be consulted for any health issues, as they are trained to diagnose illnesses, administer pain medication, prevent and treat fleas and intestinal parasites, and remove impacted anal glands. In addition to recommending a hypoallergenic diet, your veterinarian can treat allergies with oral medications like Cytopoint®, Oclacitinib (brand name Apoquel®), and cyclosporine (brand name Atopica®) to alleviate symptoms. These treatments aid in symptom management but do not actually fix the underlying problem.
Could this be a sign of a compulsion?
Tail chasing, rather than hand washing, may be the symptom of OCD in some dogs, just as it is in some people. In the same way that a nervous person might chew their nails, a dog with separation anxiety might chase his tail. When other dogs become overexcited by a new person, animal, or bird in the yard, they may start chasing after the visitor's dog's tail. It's also possible for a dog to bite his tail after an injury, find that it's soothing, and keep chewing it even after the wound has healed.
Dogs with OCD have a compulsive need to chase and chew their tails, and it's not clear what triggered the behavior in the first place. And in some cases, the dog's repeated trauma to the tail prevents it from healing. To end the dog's cycle of self-trauma, both the dog and the dog owner must make some changes. Stopping the tail biting may require a combination of medication and the behavior modification techniques recommended by your veterinarian or animal behaviorist.
If you can observe your dog intently and pin down the circumstances that set off the tail chasing, you will be well on your way to solving the problem. Then you'll know what's coming and can prevent your dog from engaging in the undesirable action by diverting his attention to something else. The moment you see a bird, for instance, you can play fetch with your dog to divert his attention from the bird. In the event that he suffers from separation anxiety, you should try helping him through the use of "departure techniques." These distractions should be carried out before your dog begins to chase his tail, or else they will be interpreted as a reward by your dog. Supplementing the training with drugs that affect serotonin or dopamine levels is a common way to decrease tail chasing. An injury from persistent chewing may necessitate simultaneous medical attention for the wound.
As soon as you realize that chasing your tail isn't funny
Talk to your vet if your dog is biting his tail excessively or chasing it for no apparent reason. When you take your pet to the vet, you can get to the bottom of any health or behavioral issues they may be having. By focusing on the fundamental cause of the issue, we can avoid the time and effort wasted on futile "tail chasing" that often develops into a habit.
It's okay to laugh the next time your dog chases his own tail, but you shouldn't ignore any potential issues.
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