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Canine Behavior/tail chasing

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Question
Hi Jill,  just a quick question,,,,why does my German Shepherd chase his tail? albeit it is comical,,,,it just seems weird,,because he catches it and just holds on and goes in circles.....thanks Nick

Answer
Some times tail chasing is a sign of high stress or extreme boredom.  There are other times when it can be neurological, a symptom.  I suggest you see the veterinarian for a base line neurological test.  I have little information here about the age of the dog, his environment, how long he has been doing this, and what YOU DO when he does it.  

I suggest you see the vet.  Meanwhile, and after the vet visit, when the dog begins this behavior put a leash on him and just keep him casually by your side for a few minutes.  This will interrupt whatever is driving the behavior.  Do not laugh or even smile; no eye contact; calmly attach the leash, and sit for a few minutes.  Do this repeatedly (36 to 50 trials), then, after attaching the leash, walk in a large circle (do not sit down), ask for "sit", release the dog.  Do this repeatedly; counter conditioning.  The dog will then acquire a behavior you can re-direct him to when he begins circling:  "sit" for high value food reward.  Report back using followup feature if needed.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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