Monday, December 7, 2009
When Stumpy is bored, or doesn't get enough exercise she resorts to chasing her tail.
The animal behaviorists at Tufts/Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine say a "...dog may possess the requisite genes for tail chasing..." and "...Behavior is a complex interaction of genetics and environmental input..."
Episodes can be induced with frustration, stress, trauma or seemingly no reason at all. It can be uncontrollable and destructive. Without knowing, some people reward the behavior by providing positive reinforcement (i.e. laughter, petting to calm) exacerbating the activity.
Some breeds are more inclined to chase their tails; German Shepherds and Bull Terriers, for example.
Some animal behaviorists consider it an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those of us with herding type breeds are well aware of the powerful focusing ability of our canine partners. Sometimes I think Stumpy could move food off the counter or a toy across the room with her stare. I KNOW she can force me to play or take her out with her unwavering gaze. Is Stumpy OCD? Sure she is, but not in a bad way. She is easily distracted, when it's necessary.
I don't consider Stumpy's tail chasing destructive, in any way. It doesn't happen frequently, not even weekly. She is easily distracted from it and it seems to provide a release for pent up energy. It makes me laugh! She's a goofball anyways, but add some tail-chasing to her repertoire of silliness and I've got my own one-dog comedy show.