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Dr. Joey
Dr. Joey, Board Certified
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4695
Experience:  15 yrs in practice, specialist canine/feline medicine
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Our Red Heeler Seisia chases her tail whenever we show her

Customer Question

Our Red Heeler Seisia chases her tail whenever we show her affection or sometimes even unexpectedly out of the blue. She snaps viciously at her tail then runs in circles chasing her tail. We are worried about our grandchildren. She is so gentle with them but we are worried if they are in the way when she chases her tail she may accidently bite one of our grandchildren. She thinks she is a real cattle dog and tries hard on the farm helping us. She loves doing anything with us and is generally very well behaved
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Joey replied 10 months ago.

Hello I am Dr. Joey. Thanks for trusting me to help you and your pet today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 16 years of experience. I look forward to working with you.

This is not an uncommon behavior but when to this degree it does indicate there is a problem. It is important to have your veterinarian perform an exam to evaluate for pain in the spine/tail region and evaluate her anal sacs to ensure there is no infection/pain in these locations. In some dogs this can be a seizure-type problem (so more neurological and central brain issue) and in other dogs it is more of an obsessive compulsive disorder. From a behavioral perspective tail chasing often is a response to anxiety and sometimes there are specific triggers when the behavior is new but the dog generalizes over time because the chasing is self rewarding.

The first step is for your veterinarian to do an exam to determine if there is an obvious problem. If not, then sometimes a trial with pain relief medication or anti anxiety medication can be discussed. If not working or no response, then I highly recommend you ask for a referral to see a veterinarian behaviorist (which is a board certified specialist in this area) since these can be very tough situations to work through. For you at home try to reduce any identifiable stressors, teach a relax on cue (may need to work with a trainer to achieve this). The crate could be further enhanced as a relaxation area. Provide predictability by having her settle quietly and be attentive to you for things she values. Sometimes a calming cap could be worth trying, and as mentioned before, sometimes anti-anxiety medication may be useful.

I am at a point I need to know what questions you have. I hope that the information I provided has been helpful.

Please let me know if for any reason you need further clarification, have more questions, or were expecting a different type of answer.

If you received all the information you needed, then kindly submit a rating.