DEAR PET TALK: Why do some dogs chase their tails?
— K9 Lover
DEAR K9 LOVER: Because they can? Seriously though — animal behaviorists present a variety of reasons for tail-chasing, which includes pure enjoyment. Puppies will happily chase their tail, or a sibling’s tail, as part of the process of play. (Cats also, of course.)
For some breeds like German shepherds, terriers and Dobermans, tail chasing is part of their heritage. Some dogs may chase their tails to get your attention as few owners can resist this sudden comedy. Other dogs may chase their tails out of boredom, or because they are a “high energy” breed, such as a terrier.
If your dog is chasing their tail often, ask yourself if they’re getting enough exercise, or attention from you. However, if a dog suddenly starts chasing their tail — especially an older dog — this may be a sign of fleas, worms or a medical condition that needs a vet’s attention. Pay particular attention if the tail-chasing is followed by nervous chewing on fur “hot spots.” But for the most part, tail-chasing is an expression of pure enjoyment on the part of a dog.
That’s certainly the opinion of America’s greatest poet, Emily Dickinson on this topic: “A little Dog that wags his tail; And knows no other joy; Of such a little Dog am I; Reminded by a Boy; Who gambols all the living Day; Without an earthly cause; Because he is a little Boy; I honestly suppose –”
Sally Cragin is the director of “Be PAWSitive: Therapy Pets and Community Education.” Follow the group on Facebook and post questions there or call or text 978-320-1335.