We often view dogs as fun-loving and silly, especially when they’re trying so hard to seek attention. So, when your dog starts chasing his tail, you’re tempted to dismiss it as one of his quirks to expend energy or catch your attention.
Vets, however, advise against being so dismissive with this behavior as it could indicate a serious problem. This repetitive display is called, ‘stereotypy,’ a behavior that is exhibited many times without obvious utility. Repeated pacing and spinning are also classified as stereotypy. Common causes for such include stress, frustration, anxiety, skin irritation, pain, seizures, or neurological problems, with the first two as the top causes.
To determine the reason for stereotypy and the trigger, you’ll need to bring your dog to a vet for consultation. Try to also observe and process what made your dog feel stressed or frustrated, and then, remove him/her from this trigger. If it’s anxiety that’s the cause, ask your vet for the right treatment to prevent it from worsening into a more serious case.
Knowing the cause of stereotypy is important in determining the right management plan. If you still are unable to determine the cause, vets recommend that you anticipate when he/she is about to do it and let him/her do an incompatible activity instead. For example, when your dog starts chasing his tail, order him/her to lie down instead and reward this obedience. This way, you let him/her refocus on doing something else.