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Why do dogs circle before they lie down?

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Have you ever noticed that your dog circles around a bit before lying down?

It’s not just an odd habit; there’s actually a reason why dogs do this.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the meaning behind this behaviour and what it means for your dog.

Circling is an instinctive behaviour for dogs and it is thought that they do this to determine wind direction. By facing into the wind they will be able to detect the scent of any predators in the area while they are asleep.

Why do dogs circle before they lie down?
Circling before lying down is instinctive behaviour in dogs

Circling is a safety mechanism for a dog

It is also thought circling provides the dog with an opportunity to check their surroundings for potential hazards.

By scoping out the area before lying down, dogs can ensure they are not in any danger.

There is also a theory that dogs circle to create a false sense of safety.

It is thought that by circling an area, dogs are able to create a physical and psychological barrier between themselves and any potential threats.

Dogs circle before lying down to get comfortable

Why do dogs circle before they lie down?
Dogs circle to get comfortable

Another reason dogs may circle before lying down is to create a comfortable nest for themselves.

Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their sleeping area clean and free of debris, which is why they will often circle an area before settling down.

This behaviour is most often seen in dogs who do not have a regular sleeping area, such as those who are in shelters or rescue centres.

Circling can help a dog regulate their temperature

In a hot environment the dog may circle to remove ground cover that has been in the sun all day and to expose the cooler earth underneath, providing a more comfortable surface to lie on.

Why do dogs circle before they lie down?
It is used as a means of temperature control

In cold areas dogs curl up tightly to keep warm and the act of circling may help the dog to curl himself into a nice, tight warm position.

Why do pet dogs circle before lying down?

While the above reasons are all possible explanations for why dogs circle before lying down, it is also worth noting that this behaviour is often seen in pet dogs who have a regular sleeping area.

In these cases, it is thought that the dog may be circling simply to create a comfortable spot for himself.

This behaviour is often seen in dogs who are particularly fussy about their sleeping arrangements.

Why do dogs circle before they lie down?
Pet dogs circle to get their beds comfortable too

So, if you see your dog circling around before lying down, don’t worry – it’s just his way of getting comfortable, it’s a bit like you adjusting your pillows before you settle down.

What if my dog circles a lot?

If you notice your dog is circling more than usual, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

For example, if your dog is normally well-behaved but starts circling obsessively, it could be a sign of anxiety or stress.

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It could also mean that he has an injury and is struggling to get comfortable due to pain.

If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, it is always best to speak to a vet for advice.

They will be able to assess your dog and provide you with more information about what may be causing the behaviour.

Final words

Dogs have been circling before lying down for centuries, and it is a behaviour that is thought to serve a number of purposes.

From safety to comfort, dogs have evolved this behaviour to help them in different ways.

If you notice your dog circling before lying down, there is no need to worry – he is just getting himself into a comfortable position.

However, if you notice your dog is circling more than usual, it could be a sign that something is wrong and you should speak to a vet for advice.

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