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why do dogs go in circles before they lay down

Have you ever noticed your dog performing a few strategic spins before settling down for a snooze? This behavior, while quirky, is deeply rooted in their primal instincts and has both historical and practical explanations.

A Glimpse Into Their Ancestral Past

This circling habit can be traced back to when dogs were wild and roamed freely. In the absence of cozy dog beds, they had to craft their own sleeping quarters in nature. Circling helped flatten grass, leaves, or snow, creating a comfortable, even surface. This action ensured the ground was free from sharp objects or creatures that could disrupt their sleep.

Scent Marking: Claiming Their Space

Dogs possess scent glands in their paws, and circling activates these glands. This behavior serves as a way for them to mark their territory, signaling to other animals that the chosen spot is taken. It's their way of saying, "This is my spot for rest!"

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Safety Checks: A Survival Instinct

The ancestors of today's domestic dogs always had to be vigilant about predators. Circling before lying down allowed them to survey their surroundings for any potential threats, ensuring a safe environment for relaxation.

Seeking Comfort and Warmth

Just as humans adjust their pillows for comfort, dogs circle to make their resting area just right. They may move aside debris or scoop up the earth slightly to create a nest-like space that retains body heat and offers security.

An Enduring Instinct

Although domestic dogs no longer need to prepare outdoor beds, the instinct to circle remains. Many behaviors remain ingrained long after the original need has disappeared, and for many dogs, circling before lying down is as instinctual as wagging their tail.

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When to Be Concerned

While circling is typically normal, excessive spinning or apparent difficulty in settling down might indicate discomfort, such as joint pain, especially in older dogs. If your dog's circling is accompanied by other unusual behaviors, consider consulting a vet to ensure they are comfortable and healthy.


Next time you witness your dog's pre-sleep routine, remember that they are engaging in a practice that dates back to their wild ancestors. This blend of instinctual behavior, comfort-seeking, and safety assurance is not just practical—it's a poignant reminder of the journey dogs have made from wild animals to beloved pets.

Understanding these aspects of canine behavior enhances our appreciation of our furry friends, strengthening the bond we share with them and providing insights into their unique ways of communicating and existing in our shared spaces.

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Give Back The Love

Show your love to your pets with our high-
quality, delicious and healthy meals!