As a lifelong dog owner, I have frequently asked the dogs in my life the same question, “What on earth are you doing?”
They never answer me. At least not in words.
That’s one reason this reoccurring blog post exists, in order to provide some insight into our dogs’ most dog-like behaviors. This month, we are covering the topic of why dogs spin around when doing various activities.
Read Part-1 of this series: Why is my dog doing this?
Why Does My Dog Spin Around Before Lying Down?
Dog behavioral experts have hypothesized that dogs walk in circles before lying down because their ancestors – wild dogs and wolves – needed to prepare their beds on their own. Before we brought dogs inside our homes and offered up sofas, our own beds, and fluffy dog beds for their comfort, they were forced to find a place to rest wherever they could. Turning in circles helped them push down tall grasses to make a softer surface for them and also helped get rid of annoyances like snakes, small animals, rocks, and other things that might cause discomfort.
In 2016, one researcher performed a study in which he invited 62 dog owners to bring their dogs to test out the theory of whether or not dogs still do this behavior to make their beds more comfortable. They gave 31 of the dogs a smooth, comfortable piece of carpet as a bed, and gave the others a lumpy, haphazardly placed piece of carpet as a bed. Their results showed, “On the smooth surface, roughly one out of every five dogs (19%) turned at least one full circle before lying down. On the shag-carpeted, uneven surface, more than half of the dogs (55%) turned at least one full circle before they finally rested. That means to say that the dogs were nearly 3 times more likely to circle before lying down on the uneven surface than on the smooth surface. “
The next time you see your dog walking in circles before lying down, you will know that she is just making the bed just right.
Read Part-2 of this series Why is my dog doing this?
Why Does My Dog Chase Her Tail?
Few things are cuter in a puppy’s development than the first time they notice their tail and try to catch it. This behavior can continue into adulthood and be nothing more than a silly game. However, obsessive or frequent tail chasing can be a sign of a problem. Some dogs chase their tails in an obsessive-compulsive way because they are bored and do not receive enough physical and intellectual stimulation. You can often alleviate their tail chasing by taking them on more walks and adventures or taking a class to learn a new canine activity like nose work or obedience. Sometimes obsessive tail chasing can be the sign of a medical problem, so dog owners should consult their veterinarian if adding exercise does not solve the problem.
Read Part-3 of this series Why is my dog doing this?
Why Does My Dog Spin Around Before Pooping?
Similar to the reasons for spinning before lying down, some canine behavioral experts attribute a dog’s pre-poop spinning as a way to flatten tall grass and weeds to keep them out of the way. Others think that it is to get a 360-degree view of their environment and predators before becoming involved in a bowel movement.
One group of researchers, though, did some interesting work that suggests that dogs spin around to align themselves north to south when defecating. They studied 70 dogs and watched them poop 1,800 times, and found that dogs prefer to poop on a north-south axis when magnetic fields were calm, and did not seem to have a preference when the magnetic field was unstable. This indicates that dogs have a connection to the earth’s energy and changes in it, which is pretty cool to even dog owners who are not into the science of it so much as they just think their dogs are awesome and intuitive.