View Full Version : Puppy chases her tail - problem? or not?

18th December 2007, 07:47 AM
Hi all -

We went and visited our puppy again (she is now 5 weeks) and while we were playing on the floor with her, she started spinning in circles ad appeared to be chasing her tail. The breeder said she is the only one that does it.

I came home and had a read of my training book and it says that tail chasing is bad behaviour and you should try and distract the dog from doing it.

Is it really a problem?

(If I can upload the video I can show you - I will work on that...)

18th December 2007, 09:09 AM
You want to discourage anything that the dog might get obsessive about, and chasing a tail is one of those things because it is a "toy" that is always there. Every single time that she does it, interrupt it and give her something else to do.

We had a similar problem with tail biting when we brought our girl home. Every time we saw it we took her tail out of her mouth and put a chew stick right where her tail had been and she started chewing on that. Now, at 6 months, she occasionally chews on her tail (maybe once every couple of weeks)--only when she is bored--and we always jump in right away and get her involved in something else.

18th December 2007, 11:25 AM
Some puppies do this for fun and eventually they stop or the behaviour declines -- it is normal for little puppies and just the way they play -- but within some limits. Some dogs do tail chase a lot and the best thing is to distract to something else, but it can be very hard to stop (Jaspar is my occasional tail chaser, which he does rarely as an adult but used to do more often before age one). However tail chasing can actually be a sign of real problems too. When it happens frequently and obsessively, it is usually considered to be due to neurological causes -- an obsessive compulsive disorder or sign of other problems -- and the dog can actually start to self harm (eg chewing the end off its tail or stripping the tail off hair, or spend ages going round and round).

If a puppy is doing this constantly at this very young age, personally I would be wary of taking it -- but it is hard to know whether this is something to be concerned about when you aren't there watching it all the time, and are reliant on someone else, nd not knowing the breeder and their level of expertise. If it is only occasional behaviour, I'd not be concerned. If it continues and is really constant, I'd want the puppy to be vet checked on this particular issue, and possible checked by a neurologist. Is this a professional show breeder who might be familiar with health issues? Has she raised lots of litters? How does this pup's behaviour fit in with other puppies' behaviour of her breeding? A good breeder is the best source of advice and information. :)

The difficulty of trying to stop it is even by trying to distract the dog, you give negative attention (eg saying no or coming in with a toy to distract, is seen as attention and therefore a type of reward). You probably won't get two trainers agreeing on how to manage it.

18th December 2007, 08:17 PM
I'm not certain but could this be a sign of worms? :confused:

18th December 2007, 08:37 PM
No, it is usually just normal puppy behaviour when they are small. Lots of puppies and dogs chase their tails. If the breeder is well experienced and a reputable show breeder and doesn't think there's a problem, then I wouldn't worry. If the puppy is constantly chasing its tail, I would have concerns and would select another puppy or another breeder.

If you are working with a reputable breeder, she should be able to answer all these questions though and offer plenty of good advice. :) Also, a good breeder's puppies won't have worms so severely that it would be showing signs of a significant level of discomfort of any sort -- by this point, a responsible breeder would already be likely to have wormed the puppy once or twice. :thmbsup:

I'd have a good talk with your breeder about your concerns and find out more about this particular puppy.

19th December 2007, 01:36 AM
Thanks for all your replies.

I did some more reading and it doesn't seem to be an issue for young puppies as they are still coming to terms with what is part of them and what is not. I guess she is seeing something flying around in the corner of her eye and wants to play with it.

The breeder did not think it was a problem at this age.

I will keep everyone posted on how she is progressing. :snap:

19th December 2007, 02:43 AM
Jolly chases his tail: http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=14821&highlight=tail

It is really cute. He doesn't do it often, so I don't think he is obsessed. I saw him do it this past weekend and he just turned 18 months old on Saturday.