Why does a dog chase its tail?


Wondering why your dog goes round and round in constant pursuit of his tail? You are not alone! The same question troubles many other owners curious about the reasons behind this amusing behaviour. Some people upload videos of their dog on the Internet – proud that their pet has so much energy and is having so much fun. By the way, they get likes and comments… But is this dog behaviour just the innocent fun that it seems?

So why does the dog chase its tail?

The answer is simple: most likely he is simply bored. Some people will say that since he is having so much fun going around in circles, the problem solves itself. They are partly right – the dog is indeed trying to entertain himself. But it only does this because its owner… doesn’t give him enough time and attention. He doesn’t take him out for the number of walks that the dog needs, and so excess energy accumulates in the dog. Lack of entertainment makes the dog try to provide it on its own. And this is the easiest way to have fun – the dog needs neither other people nor animals for this.

I would like to reassure you that such behaviour is not always a reason to worry and make a quick examination of conscience. If the dog behaves this way occasionally and does not hurt itself, we do not need to worry. Sometimes contented and a bit bored pets also try to catch their tail.

However, there is also a second reason for this behaviour. The dog behaves in such a way as to attract the attention of its busy or constantly absent owner. He tries to convey his problem with his body language. If he could speak in words, he would repeat: „Play with me, my human friend!”. Often this need is so strong that the dog bites its tail. Unfortunately, it is very often only at this point that dog owners begin to take an interest in their pets.


The dog bites its tail until it bleeds! What does this mean?

The problem begins when the dog frequently runs after its tail, sometimes literally to the point of death. If the dog bites its tail and squeals in pain, it is certainly not simply boredom! It may be a sign of a much more serious problem – obsessive neurosis. Also known as obsessive-compulsive disorder, the obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests itself, among other things, in your dog behaving in this way.

What could be the cause of the behavioural disorder?

The list could go on, but the most common causes are:

  • stress caused by separation or abandonment of the dog
  • extreme neglect of your dog
  • lack of socialisation
  • too early separation of the puppy from its mother
  • poor diet
  • breed of dog: some dogs are more prone to neurosis than others. Bulldogs and German
  • Shepherds are most commonly affected.

How to stop your dog from chasing his tail?

You must patiently and consistently socialise your pet. It is very important to train your dog through positive reinforcement. If you have a puppy, developing the desired behaviour will be easy (but not quick!). Read more about socialising with your dog.

Problems will arise with older dogs that have been neglected for a long time. Stress, insecurity and aggression have much more time to seep into the pet’s psyche in such cases. However, nothing is lost! Only in extreme cases neither training nor even strong drugs can help. In most other cases, you will simply have to put in a lot more work and time on restoring your dog’s confidence. One is left to wonder: was it worth it to save time on play and walks beforehand?

What’s done is done – we’ll just have to deal with it. So how do you stop your dog from biting his tail? First of all, find the cause of this behaviour and eliminate the problem at its source!

It may be insufficient exercise and entertainment. In this case, take your dog for a walk more often. Then give him more time and attention! Make sure that your walk is as interesting as possible. Don’t always take your dog for a „walk” around the block, along the same boring route. Your dog has probably already become familiar with every pebble, patch of ground and plant there. Make an effort and set off to discover the unknown! It doesn’t have to be in a secluded spot – a park, forest or garden. You can also walk your dog in the city centre – even in a shopping mall or train station. It is better to walk everywhere to give your dog a varied experience. And it is best to simply choose what your dog will enjoy the most.

Remember: on the one hand, too much excitement and stimuli can unnecessarily frighten and further stress your pet. On the other hand, perpetually avoiding more crowded places is not good either. It can make your dog shut down and become more distrustful of people and other animals. And then a trip to such a place in the future will be a real torment!

Do you just stroll around with your dog on walks?

Not necessarily! You can enrich the walk with interesting exercises or sports. But be careful. Every dog has different physical abilities and needs. If you tire your dog out or choose a game that is too difficult for it, it will become discouraged and even more stressed!

We could write a lot about what a proper dog walk should look like…. and we have already written a lot. If you are interested, please refer to our other blog entries:

Dog sports – a must-read if you have no idea how to have fun with your pet!

The perfect walk – what it looks like in practice for me and Tetka.
Walking and the correct, healthy and balanced development of your dog
To choose from, to colour! If you are a reader from Katowice or the vicinity, my next post will tell you where to go for a walk with your dog in Katowice.


In conclusion, I would like to stress again that the longer the dog has been neglected and the more stress it has been exposed to, the more difficult it will be to remedy the situation. So it’s best to start right away. Give your dog more time and attention, and take care of his entertainment. Bet on proper training and socialisation. Fortunately, a lot of patience and even more love for your pet help a lot in this.

But beware: if your dog has been chasing its tail for a long time and biting itself until it bleeds, it is best to seek advice from a dog behaviourist. In such a situation, good intentions alone may not be enough and may even make the situation worse. The specialist will find the source of the problem and work out the best therapy for your dog. In time, and this is my wish for you, you will see an improvement. And one day, perhaps, such behaviour will be eliminated.

I hope that I have clarified the situation a little and that you now know why your dog chases and bites his tail. And more importantly, you know how to fix it. So – get to work!


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