Tail chasing in dogs can occur for many different reasons. Dogs may chase their tail as a play behavior, but, some dogs will chase their tail to get attention, to burn off excess energy, in response to pain or an itching sensation or even with a type of seizure disorder. Dogs can also chase their tails if they are anxious or suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It sounds as though your dog may have a form of separation anxiety and is chasing his tail as a way to alleviate his anxiety. The first thing you should do is have him checked by your veterinarian to make sure he does not have any medical problems that may be making his tail or back end sore. If there are no obvious neurological or physical problems, he may benefit from behavior modification therapy where you would try to intercept the tail chasing behavior before it begins by getting him to engage in a more acceptable behavior such as playing with a toy.
Increasing daily activity such as taking walks, playing ball, or other activities to tire your dog out and burn off excess energy are also useful. Providing an interactive toy, like a Kong filled with treats or peanut butter while you are away and perhaps keeping him in a crate while you are not at home may also decrease anxious behaviors. Non-medical calming products like pheromone collars or Thunder Shirts may also help some pets. Remember, the longer your pet has had this problem, the more difficult it is to treat, so, if his tail chasing is a more recent behavior, seek help right away.
Working with a trainer skilled in canine behavior problems may be necessary, and, your dog may also benefit from anti-anxiety medication which you should discuss with your vet. While there is not a quick solution to your pup’s tail-chasing, there are definitely things that can be done to help him.
Submitted by: Dr. Sabrina Walters