Why Does Your Dog Circle Before Lying Down?


Many dog owners ask themselves the same question day in and day out. Why does my dog circle before lying down? Either for a quick nap, or a restful night’s sleep, many dogs walk around an invisible ring before laying down to snooze. 

The majority of researchers believe this is a trait passed down from the history of canines. Wolves in the wild circle the perimeter of their resting area for signs of danger, while also spreading their scent. It helps them to mark their territory, and to ward off potential threats. 

It also serves as a tamping device. While most dogs once lived and slept outdoors, they would want to find a soft place for bedding. Walking in a circle allows them to tamp down the grass or brush that they would rest on, allowing for a softer and more comfortable bed. 

Simply, they are nesting. Similar to how birds create a cozy home, our dogs do the same. 

Circling is also sometimes accompanied with digging. Again this comes from your pup’s ancestors. Digging before sleep would allow wolves to have an element of protection against harsh weather conditions. Even in snow banks it would create an igloo effect, trapping what heat that would radiate off the body and keep them warm. A hole would provide insulation and warmth during the cold winter months, and cooling properties in the summer. It would be difficult to spot a wolf in a hole, and thus make it safer while they slept. 

Some scientists believe that circling and digging allows for optimal wind positioning. By circling they are testing what direction the wind is blowing, and can then know when hazards are on the horizon. 

So when your dog paws at the carpet, or walks in one or several circles, just know that they feel they are safe and sound in your home.