Learn Why Dogs Walk in a Circle Before Lying Down

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Dogs do a lot of things that seem strange to people (enjoying a delightful afternoon snack of poop, for example), but if you remember that our domesticated pets are descended from wolves and once had entirely different, feral lives, many of those behaviors can begin to make sense.

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Take, for example, how dogs turn around and around in circles before seeming to find the perfect spot to settle in for a nice nap or snuggle down for the night. It seems odd, since we buy them beds that look more comfortable than our own, but according to University of Colorado-Boulder sociologist Leslie Irvine, the behavior is hard-wired and dates back to the days when our dogs’ ancestors had to build a safe nest.

She explains further in her book, If You Tame Me: Understanding Our Connection With Animals, that wild dogs had to pat down tall grass and underbrush to make a comfortable bed for themselves and their young. They prepared the area by walking in a circle over and over.

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“In the wild, the circling would flatten grasses or snow and would drive out any snakes or large insects. I have also heard that circling the area and thus flattening it leaves a visible sign to other dogs that this territory has been claimed.”

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Even though our pups are safe and sound and comfortable in our homes, the behavior continues. It’s part of their dogginess, so let them be – it makes them feel even better about snoozing safely at our side.