How can I stop my 12-month-old dog from chasing his own tail?
This has become such a bad habit that he’s starting to make it
sore when he does catch it. He only seems to do it when we’re there
to watch him – might it be attention-seeking behaviour?

Nick Jones advises…

I would start with a vet inspection to be sure that there is no pain or anything
else untoward with him and then, assuming he gets a clean bill of health, we
can start to think about how to address this.

You may well be right with the attention-seeking point; this may have
stemmed from a behaviour in his puppyhood that was in some way rewarded by
you or others. If it got a laugh, it may have caused a sense of reward as a result.
If the behaviour is only occurring when you’re present, then that in itself
will make your job a little easier, as you can quickly interrupt and redirect his
behaviour. Keep a lead on your dog at all times when you’re present and able
to supervise. Remove the lead when you go out and at night.

As soon as your dog starts to spin, issue some sort of interrupting verbal
cue – such as an “Ah-ah!” – and take hold of the lead and ask your dog to
sit and stay. The immediacy of your interruption is critical so that he stops
before he becomes too excitable. Once he is sitting (you could try the ‘down’
too if that would work), keep him in the position until you think the urge
to spin has passed and then release him again. When you release him, use
a simple word, such as “OK”, drop the lead and walk away, but keep a very
close eye on him should he return to the same behaviour.

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