Why Does My Dog Circle Me and How to Stop It

why does my dog circle me

Have you ever noticed your dog circling around you as if playing a game of ring-around-the-rosie? What is the meaning behind this sudden burst of energy and exuberant attention on you? We hope to help clear things up about this odd canine behavior. In this article, we’re going to discuss:

  • Possible reasons behind your dog circling you
  • When a circling behavior could be concerning
  • Patterns that may help you diagnose a reason behind it
  • Actionable steps that you can take to stop it
  • The importance of advocating for your dog

Why Does My Dog Circle

There’s not a single reason why your dog keeps walking in circle around you. Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been circling you.

Excitement

Pure excitement is one of the most common reasons for dogs to circle their owners. If your dog senses that you are doing things like preparing to take them on a walk, getting them a treat, or retrieving their favorite toy, they may circle you out of their excitement for what’s going to happen next.

When excited, circling around you could just be a way for your dog to get some energy out while maintaining its focus on you. Sometimes, if your dog has gone a while without stimulation, such as when you get home from work, they can circle you out of a need for attention and some much-needed activity.

Attention

As mentioned, dogs may seek attention if they’ve received a lack of stimulation for some time. You may also find out that your dog is circling you because it has needs that you haven’t met. If your dog is hungry or needs to go potty, it may circle you to get your attention.  

Dogs may also resort to circling their owners if other methods haven’t worked. If the only way you’ll pay attention to your dog is if they’re directly in your way, your dog is sure to continue circling you because they know it has worked in the past.

Dominance

Have you ever noticed dogs circling around another dog? This trait is often exuded by alpha dogs, and it’s a way for them to show their dominance. If your dog exhibits behaviors of an alpha dog and it likes to circle around you, it may be illustrating its dominance over you by controlling your movement.

An overly dominant dog is obviously not a good situation. You want your dog to be able to trust you and listen to you. To do that, you’ll need to be the dominant figure. It is essential to train your dog immediately if dominance is the reason behind its circling behavior.

Herding

If you have a dog from a herding breed, your dog might be circling you because of its inclination to herd others. A dog that will naturally exude this behavior includes breeds like collies, sheepdogs, and german shepherds.

Should You Be Concerned?

If you notice your dog starting to circle you obsessively, and it hasn’t been a trait that you’ve ever seen before, there may be something else going on. If a dog has a sudden and significant change of behavior, that’s when the circling might be more of a concern. Please reach out to your vet if you’re experiencing this. Reasons to be concerned about circling include:

  • Dementia (your dog may be disoriented and confused)
  • Anxiety (your dog may have trauma and is exuding weird behaviors to cope)
  • Disease (an underlying disease may be causing nerve damage)

Pay Attention to Patterns

To gain more understanding as to why your dog is circling you and possibly diagnose the cause, you’ll want to pay attention to patterns surrounding the circling behavior. Take note of the following:

  • When did the circling behavior start? Try and think back to the first time you noticed your dog circling you and see if you can relate it to anything. Think about if your environment, routine, or your dog’s personality changed at all during that time.
  • When does your dog circle you? Does your dog circle you in the morning when you get up, or every time you get home? Does your dog only circle you at mealtime?
  • Where does your dog circle you? Does your dog circle you when other people are around or when you’re on walks?

How to Fix Dog Circling

Now that you have some clues about the reasons why your dog is circling you. Learn what to do to stop this odd behavior.

Don’t Reinforce the Behavior

It’s important to refrain from negatively enforcing the behavior by giving your dog what it wants when it circles you. For example, if your dog encircles you on walks, try walking in the opposite direction until your dog realizes that you’re the one leading and their circling will not make a difference.

Invest in a Professional Trainer

Sometimes, the best way to train your dog is by hiring a professional. If you’re really at a loss for how to stop this behavior in your dog, seek help from an individual trainer or sign you and your dog up for a training class. Training will give your dog a level of stimulus that it’s not used to, making it easier to catch on to queues and handle things better.

Be Your Dog’s Biggest Advocate

The urge to constantly be circling people is just one of many odd behaviors dogs can attach to, and there could be a variety of reasons behind it. If you need further guidance on this issue, please consult with a trainer. Or if the situation is especially serious, a specialist in animal behavior therapy might your best option.  

Dogs are complex creatures that exhibit a range of different characteristics, some of which may need careful observation and work. To help our dogs thrive, we need to be their biggest advocate. As long as you are willing to give your dog the proper attention and spend consistent time working on their issues, they are sure to respond positively.  

Conclusion

Have you ever experienced your dog circling around you? What kind of tactics have you taken to stop odd behaviors that your dog exhibits? Please comment on your experience and perspective below. 

And if desired, share this article on your favorite social media. Let’s get a conversation going about man’s best friend and discuss how we can make life better for them.