The Tail-Chaser

Isn’t it sweet when puppies chase their own tails? Little chicklet teeth gnashing while their tiny, goofy, flexible bodies spin in circles as they try to catch the baby corn stump attached to their behinds? I used to love watching it.

Now, not so much. Mylo is almost 5. He still chases his tail. Over the years it has become more of a battle to the death between his front end and his back end. We will be in the yard, playing ball with the boys and all of a sudden Mylo will stop. His disposition becomes wild, like he is on the hunt. He eyes his tail, watching the long white fur flow in the breeze, as if it were taunting him. Then he launches himself into a spinning mass of doom. He whips around in a lopsided circle until he has his own tail—apparently he does not realize that it is attached to him—in his mouth and he starts to growl ferociously. Moving his jaws up and down until he has a good hold on it. After this comes what we call “donutting”. This is when Mylo gets so into the capture of his own tail that he rolls sideways into a ball. Not laying down, but actually balancing on his thigh with his front legs in the air as if they are trying to catch the clouds overhead. Then the “pinchy-biting” starts. This is when Mylo pinches things between his front teeth with extreme force. His nose curls up like he smells something terrible and he attacks his tail with vigor. The only end to this stage is when he loses balance and topples over.

When he chases his tail in the house, it is even more disturbing. For some reason, he likes to do it between objects. Like walls in the hallway. This means that every time he spins, you can hear his head hit the wall. Two thumps for every spin. The only way to get him to stop is by opening the cheese drawer in the fridge (our dogs have figured out what is in the cheese drawer), or by grabbing hold of him.

He was so obsessed with his tail at one point that it was almost bald. Thankfully it has grown back in since then. We got some odd looks for awhile there. He has never actually damaged himself by drawing blood or anything of the sort, so don’t worry about that. I just don’t understand why he still does it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my husband and I are children at heart. Meaning, one of our summer nights will include a camp out in the living room watching movies. Maybe Mylo is taking after us by trying to prolong his puppyhood. Who knows. We are thinking about getting him a helmet for in the house so that he stops banging his head on the walls. Or maybe we should just give in and line our walls with padding. 😉

Mylo chasing his tail in an open space for once.

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32 thoughts on “The Tail-Chaser

  1. Oh, that is worrying! Have you asked a dog psychologist about ways of reducing the occurrence of these bouts? Sorry we don’t have any experience of this extreme behavior but at least he’s not biting himself raw. Love the idea of a helmet 😉

  2. It makes me wonder what is exactly behind the whole ‘dog chasing his tail’ story that seems to occur in every canine owner’s house! It interests me as to what started this strange “talent” and what continues to drive them! xD

  3. I’ve seen dogs hurt themselves with the tail chasing obsession, but are usually unbalanced dogs, that are abused or mistreated, your dog is clearly not that kind of dog. You are observing and he’s ok, so no need to worry I guess.
    I often think of what kind of things will my dog keep doing when he is no longer a puppy.

    • Yes, I try to remember that he is a dog, and that dogs do strange things that people may not do. He probably thinks that I do crazy things too! They lose a lot of traits, keep a few, and gain many as they age. It’s an interesting process!

  4. Pingback: The Multifarious Mix: June 11 | amandatheatheist

  5. Poor Mylo! Bess chases her tail but I think it’s just because she’s a puppy and it’s nothing obsessive – yet! She does have a fight with her leg though. She’ll start to chew on her paw and then allows her leg to constantly kick her in the head, it gets her angry and she ends up having a full blown battle with it as if it doesn’t belong to her. It’s kinda funny to watch!

    • Hahaha, that sounds like it’s fairly amusing. They do strange things when their pups. Mylo only chases his tail when he’s really excited about something, like supper.

  6. Apparently he enjoys chasing his tail. We have never had a dog that chased his tail but we do have a cat that slaps at and chases her tail now and then. Hugs and nose kisses

  7. This may or may not apply to your situation. But thought I’d mention a couple things.

    I have a little bit of background here coming out of life as a Military Police Officer and shelter volunteer. Military K-9 and shelter dogs exhibit “spinning” and tail chasing at times. As pups it is very common and normal as a means to self entertain or figure out themselves. If it happens very often as adult dogs, however, it can SOMETIMES (I stress SOMETIMES) be an indication of a compulsion disorder triggered by something causing them anxiety, or it could even be something medical needing veterinary attention (neurological, allergies, etc.). This is especially possible if hair is being pulled or they are causing injury to themselves.

    If it is the former, anxiety, it is important to figure out what might be causing them anxiety. For some dogs it is as simple as introducing more exercise or more stimuli. Dog socialization (time with other dogs) and increased activity works wonders with many shelter dogs. For the German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois in the military situations, spinning is almost always from their long-term kennel lifestyle – and increasing their outside and exercise time is helpful. Anxiety in dogs can be triggered by many things, not all obvious.

    It may be worthwhile to look into it further.

    • Although I do appreciate the sentiment, I can assure you that Mylo’s behavior is simply caused by excitement and is exhibited most frequently when we use the “supper” command, and even then not every time. Mylo is sort of a foodie.

  8. Love it! Bailey has no interest in his tail, but has a routine we like to call the “running of the beds” — I think I posted a video once, but I’m not sure. He races between the master and guest bedrooms, sliding across the top of each before leaping down and doing it all over again. His big finishing move is a sort of insane circling (like before napping only FASTER) on top of one of the beds and then suddenly plopping flat on the comforter. Sometimes it’s very funny, and other times, I wonder how much more the comforters can take! It would be okay with me if he stopped as he gets older (I have plenty of footage of it to enjoy forever!)

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