You named your loving Dachshund Athena because you treat her more like a goddess than a princess, but she has started to run around aimlessly in circles, and watching her gives you a headache. You also don’t find this behavior very goddess-like and need some wisdom on what causes this strange behavior. Does it have something to do with the fact that Athena is a Dachshund? Could her elongated body contribute in some way? Is it more normal than you think? Should you be worried? You question if it’s all right to laugh as Athena circles around you once again.
The Root of the Behavior
Many times dogs run in circles to rid themselves of energy, align themselves in the perfect pooping position, or because they playfully chase their tails, but there are some other reasons, especially relating to Dachshunds, why Athena might be running in circles. A common Dachshund issue has to do with anal glands - two small sacs located under the skin of your dog’s anus which tightens when Athena has a bowel movement to allow a nasty, fishy smelling liquid to pass through. You read that correctly. Dachshunds are prone to anal gland problems that might cause Athena to run around in circles trying to nip at her butt. You may also notice that her backside emits a foul odor, and she may even scoot along the floor after her circling routine. The term for this common Dachshund issue is anal gland impaction, which means that Athena’s oily anal gland secretions may become very thick and are unable to go through her anal pores. This could make Athena start nipping at her rectal area because of the discomfort. She may even appear to be running in circles.
For many dogs, the two anal sacs function properly and allow the smelly fluid to pass through tiny anal ducts while they poop, but unbeknown to us, Dachshunds have an issue with this more than larger dogs and other breeds. Interestingly, this odd bodily function evolved with Athena’s ancestors. The secreted fluid is designed to go through the dog's pores into the feces as a form of communication for predatory animals. The smelly poop marked the dog’s territory and warned other animals not to mess with the canine's domain. Another possible reason why your Dachshund runs in circles might have to do with her back. Due to Dachshunds’ elongated bodies, they have a lot of stress on their backs. This sometimes leads to ruptured discs. Ouch! If you suspect that Athena has a back problem, take her to the vet as soon as possible. Other serious issues that involve your furry friend running in circles include seizures and ear infections. It’s important to observe how Athena acts, then determine if she is in pain or if she is just trying to get your attention by running in circles.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you think that your Dachshund is running in circles due to a medical problem, then you want to end this behavior by seeking treatment for your beloved pooch. But if your dog runs in circles because she wants to play or craves your attention, then you need to decide if this habit bothers you enough to take action. Some Dachshunds have some very hyper energy and the continuous running around may interfere with you getting anything done, or it just flat out annoys you. If this is the case, praise Athena when she’s calm by feeding her some treats or using a clicker. Soon the positive reinforcement when she’s not running in circles should calm her dizzying ways.
If Athena’s circling behavior continues to bother you, ignore her when she does it. This should only be done if Athena has no medical condition at all and might just be trying to get your attention or let off steam. You also can identify triggers. For example, you might notice that Athena only runs around in circles when you are feeding her. This could be a time to make her sit before giving her her daily meals. Once you find out the root of Athena’s circling behavior, you can decide to either let her be or take the necessary steps to stop it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If Athena is running in circles due to an anal gland problem, there are a few concerns. One smaller issue is that she might be scooting her butt against your carpet and leaving remnants of feces and secretion juice along the way. But most concerning is that this problem can cause discomfort in Athena, and she might even leak some bloody discharge. Good news for Athena; you can take action. Feeding her a diet with probiotics and natural enzymes might help the anal issue resolve itself naturally. You can also put a warm compress on Athena’s caboose to ease the pain. But if it continues, veterinarians and groomers are pros at expressing dog’s anal glands, and you might need to schedule regular appointments for this. Your vet will also make sure that Athena’s anal glands are not infected or leading to other problems. He also may prescribe antibiotics for short-term or long-term use. And, in rare cases, surgery remains an option to remove the glands. Although you feel that Athena displays symptoms of anal gland impaction, you are grateful she can still lead a normal life.
In addition to her circling around, you notice that Athena has been trying to nip at her butt. You decide to take her to the vet where it’s confirmed that her anal glands need some expressing. After the process, Athena’s circle running stops, and she seems much more comfortable. You are glad you delved into this Dachshund phenomenon because, before, you had no idea that anal glands could be such a pain in the butt.
By a Retriever lover Amanda Clark
Published: 04/21/2018, edited: 01/30/2020