An Observation of Dogs Chasing Their Tails

A scientific research paper reviewed 400 YouTube videos of dogs chasing their tails. A close look showed that about a third of the dogs observed showed signs of clinical pathology ("neurological, compulsive or other pathological conditions").
Habitual tail-chasers had 6.5+/?2.3 times the odds of being described as ‘Stupid’ than other dogs, and perseverative dogs were 6.8+/?2.1 times more frequently described as ‘Funny’ than distractible ones were. Compared with breed- and age-matched control videos, tail-chasing videos were significantly more often indoors and with a computer/television screen switched on. These findings highlight that tail-chasing is sometimes pathological, but can remain untreated, or even be encouraged, because of an assumption that it is ‘normal’ dog behaviour.

Another takeaway from this study is how YouTube can provide a vast and unsifted resource of behavioral observations to researchers of all kinds. Someday a scientist may be watching your behavior, either on video, in the description, or in the comments! Link

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This is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time.

Not only is there very little science in this, the observer used the passive media experience that he implied contributed to the behavior.
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While I agree that dogs can and do experience psychological problems, including anxiety and OCD behaviors, I have to wonder what effect the dogs' owners have on this tail-chasing behavior. Are more of these tail-chasing dogs filmed indoors with televisions because couch-potato electronics-loving owners are more likely to film this behavior than active outdoors-loving humans? If you argue that the tail-chasing is because the dogs are confined indoors and understimulated, how do you know that dogs who are confined outdoors and understimulated aren't doing the same thing? In the latter case, there's less likelihood that a human with a video camera would be around to observe and film the behavior. I also wonder who is doing the observing, the paper writer or a certified veterinary behavioral specialist? And can you really diagnose any individual's psychological state based on a 2 minute YouTube video, regardless of species?

In any event, one interesting quirk of tail chasing is that any given dog will tend to circle in one direction only. It's pretty rare to find a dog circling in both directions.
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While I agree that dogs can and do experience psychological problems, including anxiety and OCD behaviors, I have to wonder what effect the dogs' owners have on this tail-chasing behavior. Are more of these tail-chasing dogs filmed indoors with televisions because couch-potato electronics-loving owners are more likely to film this behavior than active outdoors-loving humans? If you argue that the tail-chasing is because the dogs are confined indoors and understimulated, how do you know that dogs who are confined outdoors and understimulated aren't doing the same thing? In the latter case, there's less likelihood that a human with a video camera would be around to observe and film the behavior.

In any event, one interesting quirk of tail chasing is that any given dog will tend to circle in one direction only. It's pretty rare to find a dog circling in both directions.
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