• March 9th, 2022
    Written by: Kimberly

    Watching your dog turn a few circles before snuggling down for a nap never stops being adorable. But if you have ever wondered why dogs do this - and why some dogs do not - we have some insight into this behavior.

    Science Behind Pre-Nap Circles

    Like many dog behaviors, we do not have a specific answer for why many dogs walk in a circle before they lie down, but veterinarians and scientists do have some guesses. These include:

    • Exhibiting Pack Behavior - In the wild, dogs may do one last turn to scope out their surroundings for any predators and to make sure that all members of the pack are nearby before they go to sleep.
    • Getting Comfortable - In the same way that you might fluff your pillows or arrange the blankets before you drop off, your dog might be using her paws to make the bed more comfortable.
    • Getting Warm - Dogs who have lower body temperatures or live in cooler environments will often sleep curled into a ball to keep warm throughout their nap. By turning in circles, your dog shapes her body into a curled posture for an easy transition into her favorite sleeping position.

    The good news is that turning before lying down is a natural behavior for most dogs, so you can simply enjoy how cute it looks most of the time. But there are a few instances where spinning behavior can indicate a problem, and it is worth being aware of the signs to make sure that you can keep your dog comfortable.

    If your dog is spinning more than a few times, this could be a sign of stress or another health problem. Dogs that spin and lie down, but then quickly get up again may have a hard time becoming settled. This could be a sign of discomfort or that your dog's bed may not provide the cushioning she needs, especially if she's older. Alternatively, she may have pain somewhere in her body that prevents her from becoming comfortable. 

    In general, your best indication of a problem is if something about behavior is out of the ordinary for your dog, in which case it is helpful to contact your vet to take any necessary steps to keep your dog happy and healthy.