Why do dogs walk in circles?

Why do dogs walk in circles?

Even though dogs nowadays have their own beds and soft cushions where they can safely take a nap, it was not the case in ancient times. In times when dogs had to depend on their survival instincts to be safe and sound in the wild environments of jungles, they developed the habit to whirl around in circles to build a safe territory where they can sleep safely. 

Even though living organisms evolve, some of the prehistoric characteristics are still retained in their DNA. Walking in circles is one of them. Dogs literally had to make their own beds to spend the night in prehistoric ages. And yes, circling around was the way they chose for the purpose. It had the following benefits:

  1. Circling around would press and expose the ground underneath. This would lure out any hidden snakes or big insects hiding in the grass or snow on the ground. That way, dogs could ensure a safe night stay for themselves and their pups. 
  2. Circling around made a “territorial mark” on the ground. It depicted that the marked territory is already taken by a dog and is not available for others. That way, other dogs wouldn’t bother them in their sleep. 

Although dogs don’t have to go through the same, intense survival process in the 21st century, this behavior still retains in their ancestral instincts.

Why do blind dogs walk in circles?

The behaviour of walking in circles is common in healthy and blind dogs alike. In some cases, blind dogs are more likely to follow this instinct of theirs before laying down for sleep. Moreover, circling is more common in mother dogs, especially blind mother dogs, who have to ensure their pups’ safety before taking a nap. 

Blind dogs work it out by creating a safety “circle” or “nest” around them. After they complete their circling, they essentially have created a map of the safe zone in their mind. Mother dogs then lay down, keeping their backs to the outer side of the circle, and their pups on the inner side of the circle. That way, no trouble would reach the pups without getting noticed by the mother. Moreover, by keeping all pups on the inner side of the circle and it’s back on the outer side, the mother has a clear idea of the position of all the pups during sleep. That way, the mother doesn’t accidentally step on one of the puppies and hurt them.

Why do dogs walk in circles before they poop?

There are numerous theories for why dogs walk in circles before doing their business. One of them is the obvious one we walked through earlier, i.e., they do so to lure out any troublesome creature from the grass underneath. It’s also believed that dogs do it to flatten out the grass underneath. That way, their private materials don’t get stuck on the strands of tall grass and make things dirty (yuck). 

However, the latest theory about this behavior states that dogs do it to find directions. Earth has a magnetic field around it. And it so happens that dogs have a strong “compass” in them, i.e., they can sense earth’s poles by circling around. Scientists believe that dogs circle around to mark their potty spot in case they want to come back to it later on.
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