When Sparky chases his tail, you might laugh and think your puppy is spinning out of control. What you don't know is that you're reinforcing his behavior. Sure, he might just be curious about that wiggly thing emerging from his bottom, but sometimes his behavior is triggered by something else.
Sparky's consistent spinning might just be a cry for attention. When was the last time you played with your puppy or took him on a long, adventurous walk? Your pet companion might have noticed that each time he chases his tail, you laugh and encourage him to keep spinning. Even if you yell at him to stop, if this is what it takes to get your attention, Sparky will surely keep doing it. Eventually, his behavior can reach the point where it's hard to stop.
If you're confining Sparky to a small space and are allowing him to get bored, realize that you're asking for trouble. A bored dog is bound to look for entertainment in all the wrong places. He might start chasing his tail to keep himself busy and to release pent-up energy. Provide your pup with plenty of toys to play with so he doesn't resort to tail-chasing. Take him on frequent walks, play games, such as fetch and tug-of-war, and practice obedience training. Stimulate him mentally and physically so he doesn't get bored.
If your puppy suddenly starts chasing his tail obsessively and you can't figure out why, a visit to the vet might provide answers. Although some breeds are believed to be genetically more susceptible to the behavior, sometimes medical conditions can be to blame for your puppy's constant twirling. Sparky might have a skin irritation, a neurological disorder or maybe he has an injury that you're unaware of. A veterinarian can examine your puppy and determine what the best medical or behavioral treatment is.
If your puppy starts chasing his tail, it's essential to nip his behavior in the bud early on to prevent it from getting worse. His tail-chasing might be a sign of a beginning canine compulsive disorder. During this rare condition your pet companion might circle and chase his tail to the point where he injures his foot pads or loses significant weight. As he spins, Sparky might even resort to biting his tail and hurting himself.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.