Why Does My Dog Circle Me?

Why Does My Dog Circle Me?

Have you ever noticed your dog circling around you? It might look like a funny or strange behavior, but there’s actually an important purpose behind it. Dogs have been domesticated for centuries and they still retain many of their instinctive behaviors from their wild ancestors. Circling is one of these behaviors and understanding why your pup does it can help you better bond with them. Read on to find out the reasons why dogs circle around people and what it means when they do this behavior.

Where Do Dogs Learn To Circle?

Circling is a behavior that dogs first learn from their mothers while they are still puppies. Mama dogs will circle around their litter as a way to claim ownership and protect them from harm. This behavior, known as “claiming” or “ancestral marking”, is an important part of how puppies learn boundaries, communication, and pack structure.

As the puppies grow older, they will continue to circle their owners even when they are no longer living with their mother. This is because circling is a way for them to show respect and submission to another dominant figure in their life. Dogs are social animals that need guidance from an alpha leader or authority figure, and so circling is a way for them to demonstrate their loyalty and trust. [1]

Where Do Dogs Learn To Circle?

What Makes Dogs Circle Around Their Owners?

Circling is a common behavior that many dogs exhibit around their owners. It’s often seen as an endearing gesture; however, it can also be a sign of anxiety or insecurity.


One of the most likely explanations for why your dog circles you is that they’re feeling either excited or anxious. Dogs are instinctually pack animals, so when they come into contact with their owners it can trigger a behavior that reminds them of the hierarchy and structure of a pack. This could manifest itself as circling—essentially, a sign of respect and submission. This can be observed when your dog circles you while they’re feeling excited or anxious—perhaps due to the presence of guests in the house, or when they’ve gotten over excited from playing with you.

Pain And Discomfort

Many dogs circle their owners because they are experiencing some degree of pain or discomfort. If your dog circles you and won’t stop, it’s important to make an appointment with the veterinarian right away. Circular motion is one way that injured animals tend to express their pain in the animal kingdom—similar to cats licking a wound.

Genetics And Breeding

It is believed that this circling behavior may be the result of centuries of genetic and selective breeding. Dogs have been bred to perform specific tasks, and this could include guiding their owners or protecting them from danger. For example, herding breeds like border collies are known to circle around livestock in order to keep them together and under control. This circling behavior could have been passed down through generations and is still expressed today.

Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Lay Down?

Circling before lying down is an instinctive behavior in dogs that can be traced back to their wolf ancestors. Wolves often circle and trample grass or leaves before they lay down, creating a soft bedding where they can sleep comfortably. This natural behavior has been passed down to our canine companions over the years, resulting in domestic dogs continuing to circle before they lie down.


Dogs are known to circle before they lay down for a number of reasons, one of the most prominent being scent marking. Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell and by making circles with their body, they can deposit their scent onto the ground which serves to mark their territory, as well as communicate with other dogs or animals in the area.

Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Lay Down


This is a common behavior seen in dogs who are seeking comfort from their owners. By circling around you, your dog is creating a protective barrier of sorts between themselves and the perceived threat or stressor. This can be especially true for rescue animals or those that have had traumatic experiences in the past. A pet that circles around their owner often may be trying to comfort themselves, knowing that the presence of their beloved human will always bring them safety and security.


Regulation It’s also possible that your dog circles you because they are trying to regulate their own body temperature. Dogs naturally seek out cooler surfaces in hot weather, as well as warm ones when it’s cold. Your body may be the ideal temperature for them! If your dog is always circling you, you can try putting a cool or warm (depending on the season) blanket or pillow in a spot where they can access it. This way, they don’t have to resort to circling you! [2]

What Behavioral Issues Cause Circling?

Circling is a common behavior in dogs, but it can also be an indication of underlying behavioral issues.

What Behavioral Issues Cause Circling


When a dog circles, it can be a sign of anxiety or stress. This type of behavior is often seen in rescue dogs who have experienced trauma. It could also mean they are uncomfortable with their surroundings and feel the need to move around more than usual. If your pup is circling because of anxiety, try introducing them to calm environments and making them feel safe.


If your dog circles you out of boredom, it likely means they’re not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. Dogs need an appropriate amount of physical and mental activity to stay healthy and happy, so if your pup is lacking in these areas, they may circle around you as a way to entertain themselves. Make sure your pup is getting daily exercise, either in the form of walks or games, as well as mental stimulation to keep them engaged and out of trouble.

Strong Herding Instincts

One of the primary reasons that dogs may circle their humans is a strong herding instinct. Dogs are descended from wolves, who were great hunters and shepherds. Wolves would hunt in large packs, with one wolf taking on the role of leader. The rest of the pack would follow the leader in a coordinated pursuit to capture their prey. This same instinct can be seen in dogs today, with many herding breeds exhibiting a strong desire to herd and circle their owners. Even non-herding dog breeds may still show signs of herding behavior from time to time, especially when they are excited or feel the need to protect their humans.

What Medical Conditions Cause Circling?

There are certain medical conditions that can cause your dog to circle you or an object. If your pup has been circling more than usual, look out for signs of a possible medical condition like vestibular syndrome or canine cognitive dysfunction.

Vestibular Disease

The most common medical cause of a dog circling is vestibular disease. This nervous disorder affects balance and coordination, resulting in canine vertigo that can manifest itself as head tilting, loss of appetite, nausea, eye movement abnormalities and a wobbly gait. In some cases, dogs may circle to compensate for the dizziness they feel. Depending on the severity of the vestibular disorder, your vet may prescribe anti-nausea medications or antibiotics to help manage symptoms. Vestibular disease is usually a short-term problem and most dogs will recover fully within a few weeks.


One possible reason your dog may be circling you could be due to arthritis. Arthritis is a common chronic condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints, which can make movement difficult and uncomfortable. If your dog is experiencing discomfort while walking or running, they may circle around you as an attempt to provide temporary relief to the sore areas. Often times, a dog may walk in circles to massage the painful area and stretch out their muscles, which can help to reduce inflammation and stiffness. [3]

Why You Might Want To Stop Your Dog From Doing This

Although circling may be an endearing behavior from your pup, it can cause some problems. If your dog circles you for too long, it can lead to conflicts within the household as other pets or family members feel left out. Furthermore, if your dog circles too aggressively or with force, it could become a problem and indicate that your pup is feeling anxious or uncomfortable. Additionally, if your pup circles you for too long, it can lead to unwanted attention from other animals and people who may be in the area. Finally, some experts suggest that a dog’s circling behavior could be a sign of an underlying behavior issue such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Why You Might Want To Stop Your Dog From Doing This

How To Put An End To This Strange Behavior

It may be tempting to try and punish or scold your dog when they start circling you. However, this is not recommended as it will only create more anxiety for them.

Walk In The Opposite Direction To It

One of the easiest ways to put an end to a dog circling behavior is by walking in the opposite direction. This will show your pup that they need to stop and that you’re not interested in playing this game. Make sure you remain calm and try not to scold or punish them for doing it as this can actually encourage them to continue the behavior.

Avoid Negative Reinforcement

It may be tempting to scold your dog for circling you, but this could make the problem worse. Your dog may not understand why you are punishing them and could become anxious or fearful of you as a result. Instead, try to redirect your puppy’s attention away from the action by engaging them in an activity such as fetch or tug of war. If your pup circles you again, simply ignore the behavior and reward them with a treat or praise when they stop. Positive reinforcement can help to teach your dog that circling is not a desirable behavior. It may also be helpful to identify the cause of your pup’s circling behavior in order to create an appropriate response. If you can determine that your pet is circling out of fear or anxiety, try to create a calm and safe environment for them by playing soothing music or offering comfort. With patience and consistency, your pup should learn that the behavior is not rewarded and will eventually stop circling.

Give It Lots Of Training

Training is essential to help your dog feel comfortable and content around you. Teaching obedience commands, such as sit and stay, will help him understand who’s in charge and make him more comfortable when he’s around you. Engage with your pup by playing fetch or other activities that develop his trust in you. With the proper guidance and patience, your pup can learn that you’re a friend. Encourage him with positive reinforcement like treats and verbal praise after every successful command to build his confidence. [4]


Why does my dog pace circles around me?

It’s not uncommon for dog owners to notice their furry friend pacing circles around them. This behavior can be confusing and a bit strange, especially if your pup isn’t displaying any other signs. However, this behavior is quite common among canines and actually has several meanings. One of the most common explanations for why dogs circle their owners is that they are claiming ownership. Dogs have an instinct to claim a territory, and by circling you, they may be showing that you belong to them. It’s also possible that your pup is just trying to get your attention.

Why does my dog pace circles around me

Why does my dog circle my legs?

It’s not uncommon for dogs to circle their owners’ legs or other people as a sign of affection. This behavior is usually accompanied by tail-wagging and other friendly signals. It can also be a way for the dog to mark its territory or establish dominance over its owner. Circling your legs is often seen as a sign that the dog wants to be close and is seeking your attention. It may also indicate that the dog feels anxious or uncomfortable in its environment, as circling can act as a kind of comfort behavior.

Why does my dog spin in circles when he sees me?

This behavior is a sign of excitement, and can be seen in both puppies and adult dogs. It’s often referred to as “circling”, or sometimes as “happy-dancing”. While the exact reasons behind why they do this are unclear, it’s likely related to their wolf ancestry. Wolves have been known to circle around each other in a show of submission or hierarchy. This behavior could suggest that your dog is trying to show you their respect, affection and loyalty.

What are the warning signs your dog is crying for help?

When your dog circles you, it may be a warning sign that they are feeling anxious or stressed. Some of the more common signs to watch out for include: pacing, panting, trembling, lip licking, yawning and tail tucking. If these behaviors become excessive or frequent, it could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Additionally, some dogs may bark at their owner or strangers as a way to express their anxiety. If this behavior persists even after positive reinforcement training and other forms of distraction, it could point to an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Why do dogs put their heads on you?

Dogs can be very affectionate and often show their love for their owners by placing their heads on them. This behavior is called head-leaning or nuzzling, and there are several possible explanations as to why dogs do it. One possibility is that it’s a way of asking for attention, affection or comfort. Dogs may also lean on their owners to show submission or as a sign of trust. Alternatively, it could be a way of claiming ownership and marking their territory by using scent glands in their head. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that dogs enjoy being close to their favorite humans and will often seek out physical contact.

Why do dogs look where you point?

Dogs are natural imitators. They take cues from their owners as to how they should behave, and if you point in a certain direction, your dog may look in that same direction out of curiosity or familiarity. Dogs also understand the concept of pointing to indicate something specific – whether it’s an object or another person – and when you point, your dog may look in the direction you are indicating as a sign of understanding.

Why do dogs look where you point

Why do dogs put their head down when you pet them?

There is a common behavior among dogs that can appear strange at first, such as when your pup puts his head down while you are petting him. This action is known as the “head down” or “hugging” position and it typically indicates that your dog is feeling comfortable and relaxed in your presence. The behavior is usually seen when your pup wants to show that he trusts you and isn’t afraid to be around you. He may also lean into you as a way of requesting more attention, or simply because he enjoys the contact. When done in combination with circling your feet or body, it could also be an indication that he feels secure and content. Taking the time to provide your pup with regular affection can help him to feel calmer and more secure in his surroundings, which may lead to less anxious behavior.

Why do dogs stare at you when you’re not looking?

Dogs often stare at their owners when they’re not looking because of an instinctive behavior known as “eye contact.” Eye contact is a form of communication used by dogs to show affection, express curiosity, and establish dominance. Dogs sometimes make direct eye contact with their owners for extended periods of time in order to get attention or demand something from them. This behavior can be seen as either a sign of affection or an attempt to dominate the owner, depending on the situation and the context.

Why does my dog circle around me before lying down?

It is a behavior that is seen most commonly in puppies, but can occur with all dogs. Your pup may be using the circling behavior to show affection or establish dominance over you. This kind of behavior is often seen when a dog is feeling stressed or threatened by something and needs some reassurance from their owner. It could also be an instinctive behavior from the ‘pack’ days of their ancestors, where circling around you would indicate that you were part of their pack. Alternatively, your pup may just like to feel close to you and enjoy being close when it comes time for rest.

Why do dogs put their paws together and move them up and down?

This is usually seen as a sign of respect and submission, sometimes referred to as the ‘prayer position.’ Dogs may do this in order to show obedience or ask for something from their owners. It’s also a way for them to express excitement or joy, especially when they are greeting you after being away for some time. In some cases, the dog may be seeking attention from you, trying to get you to pet it or acknowledge it in some way. Some dogs will even circle their owners as part of a ritual before going for a walk.

The act of circling can also be seen as an instinctive behavior, such as when dogs are playing tag. In this instance, the dog may be trying to identify where their ‘prey’ is located. On the other hand, some dogs may circle their owners as an act of dominance, or to protect them from being approached by strangers. Regardless of the reason why a dog circles its owner, it’s important to remember that this behavior should not be seen as a sign of dominance or aggression, and should always be respected. In any case, it’s best to provide a positive response when your dog circles you, while remaining calm and patient. Showing affection and praise can also help reinforce this behavior in your pet.

Useful Video: Why Does My German Shepherd Circle Me?


It’s easy to understand why your pup circles you when it comes down to the basics: she loves you and wants your attention. It’s her way of expressing affection, asking for belly rubs, or just coming up with a new way to have fun. Not to mention that circling is an instinctive behavior from her wild ancestor’s days.

So, the next time your pup circles you, take a deep breath and savor the moment because it’ll be gone before you know it. Enjoy the endless tail wagging and all the love your furry friend brings. After all, isn’t that why we have pets in our lives? To make us happy and remind us to savor the little things. It’s a wonderful reminder to take time out of each day and just be in the moment with our furry friends.


  1. https://dogleashpro.com/dog-care/dog-health/why-dog-walk-in-circles-around-me/#where_do_dogs_learn_to_circle
  2. https://doggysaurus.com/why-does-my-dog-walk-in-circles-around-me/
  3. https://stayyy.com/why-does-my-dog-walk-around-me-in-circles/
  4. https://petdogowner.com/why-does-my-dog-circle-me/