Why Do Dogs Circle Before Lying Down?

why do dogs walk in circles before lying down

Before you lie down, the dogs must necessarily circle around the selected place, even if it is familiar to them (their sleeping pillow, kennel or something else). Is it a habit or a necessity? Let’s look at this question in our article.


Many zoologists cite a comparison with wolves, for whom sleeping in the open is unsafe. Therefore, selection of reliable locations, helps the dog to sleep.

Turning in circles before lying down is an act of self-preservation in that the dog might innately know that he needs to position himself in a certain method to fend off an attack in the wild. Circling around allows the wolf to figure out the instructions of the wind so that he can best position himself. With a fast whiff, the wolf understands that he might remain in danger and looks out for a potential attack.

A lot of domestic dogs are pets that oversleep our houses or in another safe, controlled environment. Despite the fact that they aren’t based on attack by wild animals, our canine friends kept this evolutionary protective characteristic. So, like their ancestors, our dogs turn around a few times before lying down.

Wild Canids and Packs

There is another explanation for this circling behavior from biologists. Wild canids, like wolves, foxes, and coyotes, travel in packs that include lots of member of the family, states VCA. The whole group is protective of the members of the pack and is on continuous lookout for laggers. Turning around helps group leaders evaluate the pack and survey the area for members that may have fallen behind.

Turning around 360 degrees also offers a chance to take one last try to find possible predators before bedtime. So, again, this bedtime rotation is in fact a type of self-preservation and security.

Every pack has an established hierarchy. Some members are more dominant while others are submissive. The bedtime turning regimen may likewise become part of a routine that determines a wolf’s place in the chain of command of the pack.

Comfort Issue

Here’s a more basic factor for canine circling. Dogs in the wild do not have the luxury of manufactured doggy beds and pillows. They make their own “beds” in nature. To make their sleeping quarters more comfy, dogs pat down tall grass and move irritable underbrush and stickers prior to lying down. They root out rocks and fallen tree branches. In chillier environments, dogs circle to reposition snow banks. This “nesting” procedure likewise uncovers undesirable inhabitants like snakes or insects. Dogs do not like to share their beds with intruders. Furthermore, changing the format of an area by moving grass, snow, or leaves indicates to other wild dogs in the area that this specific spot is taken for the night.

Circling and Temperature

These are all good reasons for dogs to circle before resting in the wild, but how does this connect to our contemporary, domestic dogs that lead comfy lives within our homes and lawns?

The desire for convenience is inherent, so one description is that our dogs circle before resting to get their beds simply the way they want them. Unlike us, a fast plump of the pillow won’t do. But their bedtime routine is more than that.

Circling and Scratching Before Lying Down

In extreme heat, a dog could collect cool soil to surround himself with, and when it was cold, scratching up and settling into even a shallow hole helped keep body heat.

Additionally, scratching leaves claw marks on the ground that are filled with their aroma from the glands in their paw pads, so it works as a method of marking territory.

Despite having a cushy dog bed inside, those effective dog nesting instincts will lead your pup to act as if he needs to sleep outside.

What if the Circling is Excessive?

While watching our dogs turn around before bedding down is entertaining, it can likewise be a signal that something is incorrect. Dogs that are in pain will circle excessively as they have a hard time to discover a more comfortable position. They may likewise crouch then rise several times before entirely reclining.

If your dog has difficulty settling even after making a number of transformations, consult your veterinarian. Orthopedic conditions like arthritis and neurological conditions like spinal cord or back problems can “turn” the routine nighttime “turning” into a painful experience. With proper evaluation and therapy, bedtime can once again end up being a comforting AND comfortable routine.

Last Word of AetaPet.com

It’s a natural habit that dogs of different breeds, sizes and ages use constantly. In principle, this is a good sign, as it demonstrates that the dog is healthy, and its behavior corresponds to the “right” dog.

References: vcahospitals.com/know-your-pe…, petcentral.chewy.com/why-do-dog…. Image: pixabay.com

References and used sources

Reyus Mammadli

Having engineering and medical education, in recent years actively engaged in the study of the development, reproduction of domestic animals. Special attention is paid to the treatment and prevention of diseases of Pets.

Author of several hundred articles about health and healthy lifestyle. In recent years, he has been treating Pets and birds together with specialists. In their articles on AetaPet.com shares both his knowledge and experience, and, based on reliable sources, methods of primary diagnosis of diseases in Pets and General recommendations for their possible treatment.

Of course, the articles are only informative. In each case, diagnosis and treatment should be carried out and prescribed by a qualified veterinarian.

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