Why dogs walk in circles before lying down

If you are wondering why dogs walk in circles before lying down, the truth is that you are not alone in this pondering. This morning I received a phone call from a new dog owner who wanted to know why it is that dogs often turn in circles before lying down. This is such a commonly observed behavior in dogs that we should have expected that there would be a reasonable amount of scientific literature which explains this behavior.

Unfortunately, my quest for published research revealed no studies that specifically address this spinning behavior in dogs. It appears that the absence of actual facts doesn't stop people from speculating about why this turning behavior appears.

Some folks have suggested that it is an evolutionary holdover, where the dog is doing this for security. In essence, the dog is checking out the surrounding area to make sure there are no threats before settling down. Another Speculation is that this circling behavior is done to chase away any possible pests that might be hanging around or perhaps to expose any random stones or prickly twigs that might make this sleeping area less comfortable.

Walking in circles before lying down is believed to have something to do with the wild and primitive ancestry of the dogs. Dog’s behavior of walking around in circles before lying down is considered to be an evolutionary holdover.

 Primitive dogs that have to sleep in the snow, under the stars, and on the leaf-covered forest floor would need to make their "nest" as comfortable as possible. They must trample the underbrush, to make the snow formation comfortable for their bodies.

Another reason is self-preservation. Dogs walk in circles before lying down to make sure that they are safe from predators as well as from small animals, snakes, spiders, and scorpions that can harm them while sleeping. Walking in circles is an indication that the dog is about to poop. Owners should immediately take the dog outside to avoid accident inside the house. The puppy walks in circles before pooping to evade pooping in the area marked by the scent of other dogs.

A dog suddenly walking in circles without lying down or without pooping can be caused by a medical concern. Ear mite infestation would cause the dog to favor the irritated and infected ear thus walking in circles. Infection on the inner ear, one of the balance centers of the body would cause the dog to lose its balance. The dog may tilt the head, keel over or walk in circles. Although a medical concern, infection from ear mite infestation can be easily treated.

A dog that walks in circles may be afflicted with a canine distemper, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), neosporosis, brain tumor and neurological problems. These are serious medical conditions that would need immediate medical attention. The cerebellum is the area of the brain that controls the motor ability. Once a tumor develops in this area, the pet will e confused and walk in circles.

Neosporosis, the disease caused by parasites in raw meat affects the spinal cord and the muscles. The infected dog would walk in circles with the head hanging on one side. Neosporosis is a serious disease, one that can cause brain damage and death of the pet.

One of the symptoms of SLE is walking in circles. These degenerative diseases that cause arthritis and muscle weakness are most common in German shepherd, poodle, beagle, and sheepdogs.

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