Researchers at the University of Helsinki believe that tail chasing may be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs.
Like humans suffering from OCD, the behavior starts early in life. Tail chasing dogs are more likely to demonstrate other compulsive behaviors like compulsive licking. Among other findings, tail chasers were shyer and had been separated from their mothers earlier than the control group. Dogs that received vitamins and minerals expressed less tail chasing compared to dogs that did not receive any supplements.
Yes, there are people who have spent a great deal of their time studying dogs chasing their tails and compiling graphs. And, yes, I think it would be a fun job too, but it isn’t as frivolous as it might seem.
The more we understand about genetic and environmental causes of dog behavior, the more we can understand human behavior. Besides, college professors must publish results of research or they might find themselves actually having to teach students.
I’ve been around a few dogs who loved to chase their tails. I thought they were just trying to get attention. Now I feel kind of bad about laughing at them.
You can read the whole study here.