Why do dogs walk in circles before lying down?

Why do dogs walk in circles before lying down?

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If you are a pet parent, there is a 99% chance that you have seen your dog walk in circles before lying down at least one in your life. Each pup has its own little ritual before going to bed, but a common denominator in most of them is turning around before actually lying down. 

Have you ever wondered why this happens? If this cute behavior actually has a meaning or if there’s no way of explaining why dogs do this? Well, if you have, then this is the article for you. And if you haven’t, we encourage you to keep reading too, because you might be surprised with what you find out. 

Since the article is titled “why do dogs walk in circles before lying down”, it’s become pretty obvious that there is a reason behind this behavior. What comes next is finding it out.

For starters, you need to know that there isn’t just one specific reason why dogs turn around before going to sleep, there actually are 4 possible reasons that explain this behavior. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

Reasons why dogs turn around before lying down

Although we said there isn’t only one reason why dogs circle around before lying down (and it’s true), there is one big cause that covers them all: dogs descend from wolves. 

Dogs inherited this behavior from their ancestors, wild wolves. That’s right, this is just one of the many habits dogs inherited from wolves, such as kneading and howling at sirens.

Now, we can dive into the different reasons why wolves and our pets walk in circles before lying down. 


Our doggies have a safe home, a comfortable bed and their own little space, but wolves that live in the wild don’t count with those amenities. They don’t have anyone guarding their backs, that’s why they need to always be on the lookout for any possible threats, even when they’re sleeping. 

By walking in circles before lying down on their resting spot, wolves take one last look of their surroundings and make sure there’s no predator around them. 

They also turn around in their place to give one last check to their pack, they make sure everyone’s around and that they are safe and sound. How cute is it that our pooch might be making sure we’re safe and sound by their side?

There’s one more way wolves use walking around in circles as a way of self-preservation. It helps them determine the direction of the wind, but why do they need to know this? Well, once they spot which direction wind is coming from after circling around, they sit in a way their nose is facing the wind. By doing so, they can easily smell predators coming their way. 

We all know our pets don’t face any type of dangers when they are at home, except the potential attack of the snuggle monster, nevertheless, they inherited this behavior from their ancestors anyway. 

Temperature check

Our adorable dogs live in a controlled environment in which they don’t have to suffer from extreme temperatures. If it is too cold, they have a nice warm bed and blanket that will keep them warm. If it is too hot, you’ll probably turn the AC or a fan that will keep you both from melting.

But wolves that live in the wild, well, they don’t have an AC or a warm blanket. That’s why they have to find their own ways to regulate their temperature before going to sleep. 

If they live somewhere that’s cold, wolves walk in circles to curl up in a ball, just as our dogs do. They hide their snout under their paws and make a super tight roll to be as warm as possible. If there’s snow, wolves can also walk in circles to make a little hole where they can rest in. 

If a wolve faces the heat, it uses walking in circles, kneading and scratching the ground, to find the coldest place possible. By doing so, they remove the top layer of soil that’s too hot and remain with a colder one. 

Find comfort

This probably is the most common reason why our pets have this adorable habit before going to sleep: they’re just trying to find a comfortable spot. 

Picture this: you go camping and before installing your tent, you check for sticks, rocks or any annoying lumps you might find on the floor and take them away. Well, wolves do the same. They tap the floor with their paws before going to sleep to make sure the spot they choose is as smooth and comfy as possible.

Our pets inherited this habit from them, and also put it into practice nowadays. Although they are not going to find any pointy sticks on their bed, they might want to create a more cozy hole with their circle walking. 

Is walking in circles before lying down bad for dogs?

As every responsible pet parent does, you might be concerned about certain habits your dog displays, but is this one of them?

The truth is that walking in circles before lying down represents absolutely no danger for your pup. It is just a cute habit they inherited from their ancestors. Nevertheless, there is a case in which you should be worried.

If your pup is constantly walking in circles before lying down and does it for a quite long period of time, this means taking more than two or three laps, they might be suffering joint pain caused by a condition such as arthritis. They circle too much because they find it hard to lie down comfortably. 

If this is the case of your pooch, you should definitely take them to the vet to confirm the diagnosis. One of the best things to do to ease joint pain caused by arthritis or even by daily activity is giving joint supplements to your dog. 

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