University of Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences researchers are looking to uncover the mystery of why dogs chase their tails. The Dogs Trust charity is funding this two-year Bristol Spinning Dog Project and are hoping to figure out how to stop the behavior from happening.
“We hope to be able to identify dogs that are starting to spin and stop it from developing to the point where they are doing it almost to the complete exclusion of other, more normal types of behavior,” says Beth Loftus, one of the lead researchers of the project. “We think this behavior develops because of personality and genetics, as well as the environment during a dog’s first 16 weeks and learning throughout life. But we don’t really know what it means for dogs’ welfare.”
Tail-chasing is an abnormal behavior that usually happens for a variety of reasons including boredom, excitement and anticipation for an event, to gain attention and even playing. Some owners become concerned with the amount their dog spins and can find it a nuisance and distressing.
The project researchers have been spending time with dogs that chase their tails and are now looking to move on to the non-chasing group. They are currently looking to visit 50 homes of non-spinning dogs in order to collect samples as well as observing three training tasks so they can asses the dogs ability to learn and their behavior.
If you are in the Bristol area and would like to take part, the project is seeking any healthy breed of dog and any age or sex, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page.