Dog On the Couch

2015-09-17 06:00

Hi Susan, Please tell me why my dog chases its tail.

H.F.

Some dogs think their tail is following them around, annoying and taunting them, and so try to chase it away. Often stress from boredom and frustration are the most common causes of this bizarre behaviour. The dog finds this a way to exercise and entertain itself. This is a displacement behaviour caused by emotional conflict. These types of repetitive behaviour (often occurring in zoo animals lacking stimulation) are the means the animal uses to relieve the tension they are feeling and may become compulsive due to their self-rewarding nature. The dog can go into a type of trance and owners can be bitten if they attempt to physically interrupt the behaviour. Behavioural adjustment training should help the dog find other avenues to replace this habit.

Do not punish the dog as this will increase anxiety. Make sure there is a calm area for the dog to retreat to, or introduce calm areas for the dog. Try to redirect its attention with something positive. Clicker training is a good means of diversion for dogs as it has been shown to increase the production of Dopamine, a feel good chemical. Reward the dog when it is calm and relaxed and find an outlet for its energy requirements. Some dogs will need to have veterinary medical attention to stop this behaviour because it can result in self-mutilation and could be a reaction to itching or pain in the area.

- Susan Henderson (accredited animal behaviourist), send questions to: info@dogbox trainingschool.co.za

Often stress from boredom and frustration are the most common causes of this bizarre behaviour

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