There are a number of reasons a dog may be spinning. Whilst younger pups tend to grow out of this behaviour (including chasing his tail), if it becomes habitual, it can be a real problem.
Any repeated or obsessive behaviours can be detrimental to your dog because the longer it occurs the harder it can be to stop. Particular breeds tend to present spinning more than others.
Ensure your dog has his regular vet checks to make sure there are no physical factors going under the radar. Skin on the tail may be itchy due to e.g. fleas or a skin condition.
Young dogs may begin chasing their tail in play or out of boredom. Some dogs develop the pattern by simply needing to burn off some energy or as an attention seeking behaviour. Extended confinement is not recommended for dogs. Stress and anxiety can also be a trigger because spinning can take avert the attention from the stress to an ‘activity’ (more or less a diversion). For some dogs it is a kind of displacement behaviour much like a human chewing their nails. You may even find the dog begins exercising this routine in certain places or key times such as when you arrive home.
It’s important to examine whether there is a reason you dog might be anxious and attend to that first. Otherwise try increasing your dogs activity program and if you see him spinning do not pay attention either positive or negative because both can be a reward. If you catch him in the act offer a diversion such as a game of fetch. Dog listener Jan Fennel advocates simply taking the dog calmly by the collar without speaking (do not yank) and bringing him to your side, releasing him once he has settled. This may need to be repeated. Please seek professional help if you are concerned for your dog in any way.
Leah & Angela O’Meara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)