Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Do you know why your dog paws at things, wags their tail, or even chases its own tail? Most pet owners don’t really think about it. They just assume their dog is just being goofy or curious. Dogs chase their tails for a variety of reasons, though. Some chase their tails because it feels good when they do it. It can feel like a game and give them a sense of well-being and joy. Others chase their tails because they are stressed out and need to run away from that stress. For others again, it might be due to something else entirely (like the odd scent). Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why your dog might start chasing its tail:

Dogs Chase Their Tails to Feel Confident

If your dog is feeling anxious or stressed, that might be the reason why they are chasing their tail. Some dogs will start to chase their tail when they are uncomfortable or scared. This type of behavior can be seen in fear-based aggression when a dog experiences intense fear and stress. When this happens, it can also lead to other problems like compulsive tail biting or even hair loss from these attacks. Dogs also might have some “dopamine moments” where they do this because it makes them feel good. They might do it when they're playing with you or getting attention from you. It could just provide a sense of happiness and a sense of being loved by someone else. It's hard to tell what's driving your dog's behavior, but there are some basic ideas that can help people understand what drives this sort of behavior:

Dogs Chase Their Tails From Stressed or Over-Excited

Dogs often chase their tails because they are feeling over-stimulated. For instance, if a dog is yapping at the door and it’s raining, your dog might get too excited or stressed out and start to chase its tail. This is a natural reaction for dogs when they are feeling like they have no options. They may fear that if they don’t keep moving and chasing their tail, something bad will happen (like the noise from the door becomes overwhelming). Another reason your dog might chase its tail is when it gets too excited or overwhelmed with happiness (such as after you give them a treat). The immediate reaction in these situations can be to shake your head and paw at things in excitement. That will feel good, so dogs will do it to release some of that energy.

Dogs Chase Their Tails Due to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Some dogs chase their tails due to obsessive-compulsive disorder. This might be a behavior that your dog does for hours on end, or it may just happen at certain times of the day. For example, your dog may stalk its tail for hours and it might feel like they are playing with something they will never catch. However, this is actually part of a bigger problem. Your dog could also have unusual responses to specific triggers (such as brushing their teeth) that cause them to keep running after their tail until they tire themselves out from exhaustion.

Is Your Dog Stress-Strickened? Look for Signs of Anxiety in Your Pet

When a dog starts to chase its tail, it can be a sign of stress. That’s because dogs often do this when they feel anxious. So the first thing you should do when your dog starts to chase its tail is to take note of any changes in behavior or mood. If your dog starts to exhibit signs of anxiety, such as shaking or shaking their head, moving quickly, or displaying fear-related behaviors like growling, panting, and hiding behind furniture, start looking for ways to help them calm down.


Dogs chase their tails due to a multitude of reasons. Some dogs chase their tails because they are feeling stressed, while others do it to feel more confident. Your dog’s tail is a great place to start when it comes to observing the signs of anxiety in your pet — many tail-chasing dogs have OCD, so keep an eye out for signs like pacing, spinning, and sniffing.

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