If your Golden Retriever has been chasing its tail you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my Golden Retriever chase its tail? Possible reasons are that it is bored, it is a compulsive behavior, it has fleas or allergies, anxiety or it might have just been playing at the time.

There are a number of things to consider when trying to figure out why your Golden Retriever has been doing it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do about it.

Why your Golden Retriever chases its tail

Below are common reasons why they do it and what you can do to get yours to stop doing it.

Compulsive behavior

It could be the case that it chases its tail because it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that it has developed. This is where your Golden Retriever has an irresistible urge to repeat a certain action. This would be more likely if your Golden Retriever has been chasing its tail excessively multiple times per day. If it does seem to be doing it compulsively, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.

Fleas

The reason that your Golden Retriever has been chasing its tail might be that it has fleas. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, you have found fleas around the house and if it has also been scratching itself a lot.

If fleas are causing your Golden Retriever to chase its tail, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees. There are oral treatments that they can recommend that can be very effective in getting rid of fleas. There are also sprays and combs that you can buy.

It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by:

  • Washing the bedding with hot soapy water
  • Vacuuming the carpets and throwing the bad
  • Applying an environmental flee control
  • Applying a spray, pellet or non-toxic treatment for the yard
  • Treating your Golden Retriever with a monthly preventative

Allergies

Allergies or a rash could also be causing your Golden Retriever to chase its tail. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source). Allergies would be more likely to be the cause if your Golden Retriever started doing it suddenly, it started when you changed its shampoo and if it has also been scratching itself.

Boredom

Golden Retrievers are a breed that is meant to get daily exercise. The reason why your Golden Retriever chases its tail could be that it is trying to entertain itself and to get rid of excess energy.

Generally, it is recommended for Golden Retrievers to get at least an hour of exercise daily when they are healthy adults. If your Golden Retriever is not getting that much, it would help to make sure that it does.

Anxiety

It could be the case that it does it due to being anxious. This would be more likely if it does it in situations such as when there is thunder and lightning, someone is around that it does not like or if it has started doing it suddenly after moving homes.

Nature or play

If it just did it once or twice, the reason could be that it was just playing at the time. However, this would be less likely if it has been doing it repeatedly.

Consider

Below are some things to consider in order to help you figure out why your Golden Retriever has been chasing its tail.

How old it is

It would help to consider the age of your Golden Retriever.

If it is just a puppy then it would make it more likely that it was just playing at the time. However, if it has been doing it repeatedly then it would make it more likely that there is something else that is causing it.

If it is older then it would make it less likely that it was just playing and it will be important to figure out the cause if it has been doing it repeatedly.

How often your Golden Retriever chases its tail

It would also help to consider how often it has been doing it.

If it just did it once or twice, it could be the case that it was just feeling energetic at the time. Whereas, if it has been doing it a lot, it would be more likely to be due to one of the other reasons mentioned above.

When your Golden Retriever chases its tail

The timing of when it chases its tail would also be something to consider.

If it seems to be doing it at certain times, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as anxiety or allergies. It would help to consider what is different at around the same time that it starts doing it.

Whereas, if it does it at random times, it would be more likely to be due to things such as fleas, boredom or compulsive behavior.

When it started doing it

It would also help to consider what happened when it started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that occurred that caused it to start.

For example, if it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as allergies or fleas. This would be especially likely if it does it after you shampoo it or you have found fleas around.

How to stop your Golden Retriever from chasing its tail

Below are a number of things that you can do about your Golden Retriever chasing its tail.

Take it to a vet

If it has been chasing its tail excessively on a daily basis, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get an expert opinion tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever and to rule out medical causes.

Train it to do other things

One option you have is to recognize when it is about to start chasing its tail and to redirect its focus onto doing something else such as rolling over. By doing so you could be able to break it out of the habit of chasing its tail.

Avoid negative reinforcement

It could be the case that you have been inadvertently encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or attention when it chases its tail.

Instead, try to reward it when it is well behaved and to redirect its focus when it is about to chase its tail.

Give it exercise

As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that your Golden Retriever is getting exercise on a daily basis. You can give your Golden Retriever exercise by walking it or by getting a dog walker to do it for you. It is advised for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

Give it other toys to play with

In addition to doing the above, it would also help to give it lots of things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to start chasing its tail. Things that you could give it would include puzzle games or toys that it can roll around or chew on.

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Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.