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Published: Apr 10, 2012

A dog chasing its tail or spinning in circles may be seen as a funny quirk by some pet owners, but this habit can actually be an indicator of medical or behavioral issues, reports VCA Animal Hospitals.

Tail chasing or spinning is officially considered one of many possible compulsive disorders in dogs. These disorders can be relatively harmless on their own or may point to more serious medical problems.  Some breeds of dogs, such as bull terriers, may be genetically predisposed to these disorders and may have other behavioral problems such as aggression.  .

If you've noticed that your dog has begun to chase its tail, a visit to your veterinarian is recommended.  Tail chasing may be a clinical sign of certain seizure disorders, or could indicate that there is a painful problem near the dog's anus that it is trying to address. A veterinarian will be able to accurately diagnose any underlying issues and ensure that there is no other problem with the animal.

Once those issues are ruled out, pet owners should start thinking about why the dog would chase its tail. In some cases, the dog may have been unknowingly trained to do so in the past – for example, if the owner gave the dog a treat or reward shortly after chasing its tail.  It may also be the result of the dog not getting enough exercise or play - it's simply entertaining itself. More interaction and exercise can eliminate the trait in many dogs, reports VCA. Head halters can be useful and allow owners to interrupt the cycle of chasing or spinning and redirect the dog to a more appropriate activity.