Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dogs: Why They Circle for the Right Spot

Welcome to 9 of 31 posts for the month of March 2010. Today's installment is about...

Why do dogs circle around to find the perfect spot to poo? It's so weird. Due to the fear of Mr. (or Ms.) Fox lurking in the bushes, I've been standing with Bandit while he does his thing every morning. He's so regular: a poo after breakfast and another after dinner. I think it's funny how he circles and circles till he gets the right spot, then he squats and looks over at me whilst he pinches one out.

I look away. I always feel as if I'm invading his privacy.

A similar circling behavior happens when he naps though thankfully sans the poo. Before he settles down for the night he plans out his nest: circle, circle, circle, scratch, scratch, circle, then plunk down in a little ball. A sigh of relief.

I've seen other dogs do the same thing so I know he's not alone. I just find it strange how nature creates these behaviors, apparently instinctive but seemingly unreasoned. What purpose does circling serve? A quick Google search resulted in the following most of which are left over from their days in the wild:
  • Encircling would tamp down the ground and also make sure no snakes and such were in the area.
  • Circling helps them to find the most comfortable position, pawing to uneven the surfaces for they don't like sleeping on things completely flat.
  • To find the spot in which their nose is prevailing in the wind or in some instances to be shielded from the wind
  • As for urinating, they circle to mark their scent in order to return later.
So there you have it: why dogs circle. What do you think?


Michael Rivers said...

That explains why a dog does it. Now can you tell me why I do it?

Cherylann said...

Interesting. Wish someone could tell me why cats need to knead before they lay down :)

Lemuel said...

Quite frankly they do it just to confuse and annoy their their humans! ;) I know all dogs do it, but it drives me crazy - especially when its in the middle of the night in the dead of winter during a storm AND I have to go too! Just DO it already!! :-D

tornwordo said...

Georgie does it more before lying down than pooping. Interesting explanation.