Why Do Dogs Spin Before They Lie Down?

Spinning before resting is not uncommon in canines.
Correcaminos112/iStock/Getty Images

As adorable and lovable as dogs are, they tend to exhibit some wacky behavioral patterns that have you scratching your head in utter befuddlement. Spinning around before lying down is just one of them. Although seemingly bizarre, the action isn't a random or meaningless one at all.

In Their Blood

A dog spins around before resting as a throwback to his ancestors, according to the ASPCA. Wild dogs in your pet's bloodline used to have to dig around in soil as a means of creating a haven for residence. Once the shelter was established, the canines of many generations back surveyed the spots several times by circling, treading high vegetation and driving out any pest nuisances. Once the area was comfortable and pest-free, the dogs would then retreat to their new comfort zones. If your dog partakes in this spinning behavior, he's just doing what comes naturally to him.


If you observe your precious pooch spinning before lying down when outdoors in your yard, he may be doing so as as a means of temperature control in hot weather conditions, notes the SPCA of Texas. If he spins around a few times, it may help him configure his physique into the optimal position for enjoying the cooler temperatures of the hole he dug out for himself. Your furry friends are savvier than you think!

Other Actions

A dog's spinning before lying down may be accompanied by a variety of other actions, including exhaustively sniffing the designated sleeping place and then positioning himself into a hunched shape. If you combine your dog's circling with the sniffing and hunching over, then you probably are fully aware of what your sweet pet is doing -- being a dog and just making sure that his "den" is as cozy and safe as possible. Nothing more complex than that.

Compulsive Behavior

In some cases, spinning around is a sign of compulsive disorder in canines, indicates the ASPCA. If your pet's spinning around is particularly excessive or isn't at all limited to his pre-resting patterns, consider the possibility of compulsion. Similarly to obsessive barking, pacing and running after shadows, spinning around sometimes indicates inordinate stress and nerve levels in canines, whether due to past neglect and trauma, separation anxiety, lack of exposure to socialization or the simple desire for attention.