Reasons Dogs Spin In Circles

Posted on July 24, 2015 under Dog Training and Behavior

A Jack Russell Terrier dog spins in circles. Learn reasons dogs spin around.

By Arden Moore, a dog and cat behavior expert and author of 26 best-selling pet books. She hosts the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio and is a writer for Pets Best Pet Health Insurance, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.

Okay, time for a little canine potty talk disclosure. I can predict with 100-percent accuracy when Chipper, my Husky-golden retriever mix, is about to poop. Seconds before, she circles a few times clockwise and may do a couple short hops before getting into the parked position to defecate.

And, when she is really tired or investigating a new doggy bed, I’ve noticed that she also circles her bed before unleashing a sigh and plopping down for a snooze.

All this circling action displayed by our dogs is enough to make a person dizzy watching – and a bit bewildered.

We don’t know for sure, but here are two leading explanations regarding the circle-before-pooping ritual. Your modern-day dog still retains this 360-degree movement that prevailed in her ancestors who lived in the wild. Circling before squatting down was a smart way to survey the surroundings and sniff for possible predators to prevent any surprise attacks while in a vulnerable posture. The second reasonable explanation is that your dog needs to kick start the bowel movement, and circling helps accomplish this.

Now, let’s address the circle-pawing ritual performed by some dogs about to nap. Your dog is cleverly circling to release her scent that serves as an aromatic alert to other dogs that this bed belongs to her, and her alone. And, even though she enjoys a pampered indoor life, she may methodically circle and paw the bed before plopping down to sleep because this behavior has also been passed down for generators. Her ancestors living in the wild would circle and paw at twigs and leaves to create just the right bowl shape to fit their bodies to sleep. This also made them a little harder for potential predators to see.

For most dogs, circling before pooping or sleeping is harmless and even a bit amusing. However, some dogs may circle constantly to the point of ignoring food or sleeping. In these cases, a thorough veterinary examination is required and anti-anxiety medications – coupled with behavior modification – may be warranted.

Finally, let’s “decode” the happy spin. For some love-their-people dogs, the sight of their favorite person walking in the door after being at work or returning from a vacation, puts them in tail spins– literally. They display their excitement by spinning quickly, prancing up and down — and some even let up happy, greeting yelps. Being the recipient of this happy circle can make one feel like a rock star. So enjoy the performance!

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