Why Do Dogs Go Around In Circles



Dogs have all sorts of weird and unusual behaviors that we do not always fully understand. For instance, why do dogs walk in complete circles? Is there really any purpose to this behavior or are they just lost? It almost seems like they are looking for something or maybe they have lost their sense of direction. But we all know that dogs have a great sense of direction and smell. So what is the real reason behind this humorous and quirky behavior? If you dig a little bit into the history and science of a dog you may just find this root cause.

The Root of the Behavior

There are several reasons why this behavior is being exhibited in your dog. For instance, if your dog is walking in circles before he pees, this is because dogs have a great sense of direction and magnetic fields and they prefer to go to the bathroom facing the north-south axis and will line themselves up to do so. Yes, this sounds weird but there are many scientific studies that have proven this. Another reason why your dog may be walking in circles could be due to some type of physical pain. If your dog starts walking in circles out of the blue, it is recommended that you contact your vet. Any kind of pain in the hind legs or tail area can cause this issue. It could even be a parasite like ringworms causing the issue. If neither of the above reasons is what is making your dog prance about in circles, your dog possibly could have some type of neurological problem. Seizures or brain dysfunction may be causing the problem. If he seems to be in a trance and will not stop circling this is something you should get looked at right away.

It can also be a behavior problem such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. If there is no rhyme or reason to it, most likely it is OCD and your pet can be put on some type of anti-anxiety meds that will help ease this problem. Keep an eye out for signs of what may be causing your dog to circle. You will most likely see the root cause and then you will be able to encourage the appropriate behavior or get medical attention if it is needed. Sometimes, this circling is harmless, but other times it can mean a medical issue. So pay close attention to your pup and the answer might reveal itself.

Encouraging the Behavior

If your dog is walking in circles before he pees, this is a perfectly normal instinctual behavior and you should just leave this one alone. However, if your dog is circling and you think it is due to a physical ailment, seizure, or behavioral disorder, it is highly recommended that you talk to your vet and find the right medical solution for your pup. Most of the time, circling is harmless but it is a good idea to get a checkup if you are concerned. If this circling behavior hinders you from walking your pup, you may want to work on a little bit of leash training. Take your dog for a walk and every time he circles, stop the walk, make him sit, and then proceed to walk again. Be sure to be the lead for your dog. Let your dog know you are in charge and that we can not go for walk in circles. Praise your dog for appropriate behavior. Over time, with proper leash training, your dog will understand that he can not walk in circles over and over again because you will not get anywhere. Just be patient and firm with your dog and it will all work out.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Dogs still exhibit some of the behaviors that their wolf ancestors had. If your dog is walking in circles around his bed, that could be due to how wolves packed down their bedding. Don’t let this bother you at all. And sometimes dogs just like to chase their tails because it's fun. There is nothing abnormal with circling for these reasons. However, be sure to keep an eye on newer circling behaviors to make sure there is no medical issue going on. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. As a pet owner we always have to be aware of these newer behavior patterns that are pups may exhibit.


Dogs do have some peculiar behavior patterns and some are just natural instincts while others may be a more serious issue. Walking in circles for a dog is normal behavior most of the time. However, keep an eye on this behavior to make sure there is not an underlying medical issue.