Dogs display a number of unusual behaviors and as a dog owner you have probably experienced some at one point. One of these behaviors is dog barking and chasing tail.
It is quite unsettling to hear your dog barking and chasing their tail, as well as concerning especially if you’re not sure what’s causing the behavior.
We’ll go over the various reasons why a dog barks and chases their tail, tips for addressing this behavior, and when to seek help.
Here’s why dog barking and chasing tail happens
Dog barking and chasing tail happens due to playfulness, anxiety, boredom, attention-seeking behavior, fleas or ticks, and underlying medical problems. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the behavior so that you can then take appropriate action to fix it.
Is it normal for dogs to bark and chase their tail?
It is normal for dogs to bark and chase their tails from time to time, especially when they are young. In some cases, the behavior may be a normal part of play or a way to entertain themselves when they are bored, however, it can also be a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral problem that needs to be addressed.
Reasons Behind Dog Barking And Chasing tail
Playfulness can be cause for a dog to bark and chase their tail as a way of expressing excitement and anticipation. This behavior is often seen in puppies or younger dogs, who are full of energy and enthusiasm.
When a dog is feeling playful, they may start chasing tail as a way of warming up or getting ready to play. .
Playful barking and chasing tail is often a normal and harmless behavior in dogs, however it is important to distinguish it from behavior that is caused by stress or other issues.
Dogs that bark and walk in cirles due to stress or anxiety may show other symptoms, such as panting, pacing, or whining, and may not seem as engaged or excited as dogs who are barking and chasing tail playfully.
Stress and anxiety
A dog chasing tail and barking can be a result of stress. Stress can sometimes cause a dog to bark and chase their tail, which can either be repeatedly in the same direction or in random directions.
Dogs can experience stress due to a variety of factors including changes in their routine, a new environment including a new home, people, pets, or separation anxiety.
One common cause of stress that can lead to barking and chasing tail behavior is separation anxiety. Dogs who are anxious about being left alone may bark and circle as a way of relieving stress and burning off excess energy.
Other behaviors due to stress include pacing, growling, crying or whining, yawning that is unrelated to tiredness, tucked ears and tail, lip licking, and body stiffness.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. When they do not have enrichment activities to serve this purpose, they may act strangely including barking and chasing tail.
Other behaviors due to boredom include crying, destructive behavior such as digging, chewing furniture, books, shoes, and other undesirable behaviors.
Therefore if your dog doesn’t have anything to do and is bored, they may bark and chase their tail as a way to release pent-up energy.
Underlying medical condition
Barking and chasing tail behavior may also be a sign of a medical issue. A dog may bark and circle, including other symptoms, if they are experiencing pain or discomfort from illness.
Dog barking and chasing tail can be signs of discomfort or an attempt to communicate their pain.
Attention seeking behavior
Barking and chasing their tail is also a way for dogs to get their owner’s attention, either for affection or to get something they want, such as food or a toy.
Dogs naturally crave attention from both their owners and when they don’t receive enough of it, they might turn to barking and even chase their tail to get it.
This is especially true for dogs that are left alone for long periods of time and it occurs due to anxiety or loneliness.
External parasites such as fleas or ticks can also cause a dog to become highly uncomfortable and agitated. Fleas and ticks are small parasites that feed on a dog’s blood, causing itchiness, pain, and discomfort.
As the parasites move around on a dog’s skin and fur, they may occasionally come into contact with a dog’s tail. This can cause a sensation that feels like something is biting or crawling on the tail, which can be highly irritating to a dog.
In response, a dog may start to chase its tail in an attempt to catch and bite the offending parasite. This behavior can become compulsive as the dog becomes increasingly frustrated and agitated by the persistent irritating feeling.
Also, excessive scratching or biting at the tail due to the presence of fleas or ticks can cause irritation, inflammation, and even injury to the tail. This can further increase a dog’s discomfort and may increase the tail-chasing behavior.
What to do when your dog is barking and chasing tail
If your dog is healthy with no signs of illness, there is no cause for concern because it is normal for dogs to show this behavior in certain situations. However, it is important to know the meaning behind your dog’s behavior so that you can address the situation.
Find the trigger
First, generally assess the possible reason behind your dog’s behavior, whether it is due to illness, playfulness, or any other cause. Observe their behavior and try to determine the cause.
Is your dog barking and chasing tail repeatedly in a certain situation because they are bored, playful, or sick? Are they barking and chasing tail to get your attention? Are they behaving this way cause of stress?
Overall, it’s important to consider the specific circumstances and situation in which the barking and chasing tail behavior occurs in order to determine the most likely cause.
Once you have a better understanding of their behavior you can act in a way that is appropriate to meet your dog’s needs. This includes:
Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to be healthy and also work off pent up energy. Therefore provide toys for them to play with, activities, or exercise appropriate for their age.
This will help reduce boredom and attention-seeking behaviors.
Stress-related barking and chasing tail behavior may be more likely to occur in situations where a dog feels threatened or uncertain, such as new or unfamiliar environment, loud noises, or new people.
It’s important to try to identify the specific cause of the stress and to address it in order to help reduce your dog’s anxiety and improve their behavior.
If stress is the underlying cause of your dog’s barking and chasing tail, minimize your dog’s exposure to stress triggers and also remove them from these triggers.
This may involve providing your dog with additional socialization, mental or physical stimulation, or training to help them feel more confident and comfortable in different situations.
Let them play
If your dog is barking and chasing its tail due to playfulness, it’s generally nothing to worry about, and you can encourage them by engaging in play or providing plenty of toys and opportunities for exercise.
However, if you notice other symptoms or if the barking and chasing tail behavior seems excessive or unusual, consult your veterinarian.
Regular checks and treatment for external parasites
Regularly check your dog for fleas and ticks, proper grooming, and also proper treatment with the guidance of the veterinarian. Prevention measures also ensures that your dog is not infected with the parasites.
When to seek help
Consult a veterinarian if you are unsure of the cause of your dog’s barking and chasing tail, if you suspect that the behavior may be a sign of a medical issue, or if your dog is distressed.
The veterinarian will assess your dog’s overall health and determine if there are any underlying medical conditions or behavioral problems that need to be addressed.
It is also particularly important to see a veterinarian if your dog’s barking and chasing tail is:
- An excessive and sudden change of behavior: If barking and chasing tail are sudden or unusual, it could be an indication of an underlying medical condition or psychological problem. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your dog, and perform necessary diagnostic tests to identify the reason for the behavior and provide a solution.
- The behavior is accompanied by other symptoms: When barking and chasing tail are accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or other behavior changes could indicate a medical problem that needs to be addressed.
Overall, it’s important to note that every dog is an individual and that barking and chasing tail behavior can be caused by a variety of factors.
A veterinarian can provide the expertise and guidance you need to determine the cause and the most appropriate course of action to help address your dog’s behavior.