Why do dogs turn in circles before sleeping?

Dogs have a bedtime ritual of circling around before bedtime. Why this behavior?

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Going around in circles, an act of self-preservation?

Canine behaviorists believe that the dog's need to perform this ritual of turning around before lying down is instinctive and inherited from its distant wild ancestors. Indeed, this behavior was already observed in the wild ancestors of dogs, such as wolves.

Walking in circles before lying down is thought to be an act of self-preservation in that the dog may innately know that he needs to position himself in a certain way to parry to a possible attack during his sleep. Some wildlife biologists believe that wolves sleep "nose to the wind" so they can quickly pick up the scent of a predator or other threat.Turning in circles would therefore allow the canine to determine the direction of the wind in order to best position itself while sleeping.

While most of our domestic dogs today sleep in a safe and controlled environment and are not subject to attack by wild animals, they would still have retained this behavioral trait in their instincts.

It is also believed that going around in circles also gives the animal the opportunity to take a last look at any insects and snakes that may be present in its litter in order to hunt them before bedtime. So, once again, this "rotation" would be the translation of a form of instinct for self-preservation and protection.

Going around in circles to feel comfortable?

Wild canids don't have the luxury of comfy pillows and cushions. They make their own bed in the wild. To make their sleeping quarters more comfortable, these animals circle around to smooth out tall grass and move thorny brush before bedtime.In colder climates, dogs circle to reposition snowbanks.

" This nesting behavior also serves to indicate to other wild canids in the area that this particular location is occupied for the night."

But why do our domestic dogs who lead a comfortable life in our homes bother to reproduce this behavior in their basket or on their soft cushion?

Simply because their desire for comfort is innate and our dogs keep turning to "arrange" their bed in the most comfortable way for them, as we would pat our pillow before us to sleep. But this bedtime ritual is more than that, it is also an instinctive repetition of the gestures their ancestors made before falling asleep under the stars.

Going around in circles to better control their temperature?

In the wild, dogs had no control over weather conditions and had to survive extreme temperature changes. They therefore adapted according to the climate in which they evolved.

In warmer climates, canids scraped the ground to expose the cooler soil just below. Scratching and rolling allowed them to find a more comfortable sleeping temperature.

In the coldest climates, the animals would form a circle to roll themselves up, with the other members of the group, into tight balls in order to conserve their body heat. The ritual of turning at bedtime therefore also had a biological explanation that our current dogs may have retained in their instincts.

What if my dog spins too long?

While it's funny to see our dogs running around in circles sometimes for quite a long time before going to bed, it can also be a sign that something is wrong.

Dogs who turn excessively may do so because they struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position. In some cases, this can be a sign of osteoarthritis or some other orthopedic problem. If necessary, do not hesitate to speak to your veterinarian.

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