Why Does My Dog Circle Me?

Why Does My Dog Circle Me?

If you’ve noticed that your dog runs or walks around you in repeated circles, you might be concerned about why they do that and whether you need to do something about it.

Before you can address it, you first need to understand why your dog circles you in the first place. This article will help you understand this dog’s behavior and whether you should be concerned.

Why Does My Dog Circle Me?

The most common reason why dogs circle their owner is excitement. However, they might also be other causes, including attention-seeking, underlying health issues, stress, and a tendency to herd.

Closely observing your dog and your environment during the behavior will help you gather insights about what’s causing it and whether you need to take action.

Common Reasons Why Dogs Circle Their Owner

Different dogs have different motivations for the things they do. Even though there’s no single reason why dogs circle their owners, here are some of the most common triggers:

They’re excited to see you

When your dog circles you, you’ll know it’s because they’re happy to see you when they show signs of excitement. This might include tail wagging, barking, jumping up, or even whining.

You’ll notice their movements are swift and they’re focused on you like they can’t get enough of your attention.

They’re trying to herd you

Circling is a herding technique that comes naturally to herding breeds like German Shepherds and Border Collies.

Dog running in circles outside

For some dogs, the instinct to herd is so strong that they’ll do it to their humans. Apart from circling, some dogs will bump their owners towards a specific direction or even nip at their feet.

They’re anxious

Stressed dogs will go around in circles because they don’t know what to do with themselves. They might do this around your feet in an effort to gain some comfort from your presence.

Dogs that do this out of anxiety might have stiffer movements and may also whine or wail.

They want something from you

If moving in circles around you has given your dog something valuable in the past, they’re more likely to keep doing it. Incentives might include rubs and treats. Additionally, they might simply be trying to get your attention.

Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Circles You?

If your dog circles your feet and it doesn’t bother you, there’s typically nothing to worry about. However, consider these reasons why you might want to address this circling behavior:

If it is unsafe

Having a dog circle your feet could cause you to trip over. In such a situation, both you and your dog could get hurt. Even if they do it for a positive reason, it might be best to curb the behavior.

If it seems rooted in stress

By observing triggers, body language, and other cues, you can often tell if stress is the reason why your dog circles you. If this is the case, redirecting the behavior will help but you’ll also need to determine and address the root of the anxiety.

If it is excessive

Having your dog excitedly run in circles around you might seem touching or even hilarious at first. However, when they do it excessively, it might be a sign of an obsessive-compulsive disorder or another health issue.

Make sure you take it up with your vet to rule out illness or at least catch it early for more effective treatment.

If it is a new behavior

If your dog hasn’t always circled you and you can’t think of a reason why they would suddenly pick up the behavior, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.

For older dogs, this might be a symptom of dementia. This is especially true if they seem distressed or disoriented as they move around you.

How To Address Excessive Circling Behavior

There are several ways to curb unwanted circling behavior in dogs. The most effective method for your dog will depend on why they circle your feet as well as the training techniques that work best for them.

Here are a few methods you might want to try:

Don’t reinforce the circling

Be mindful of your actions when your dog is circling you. You might be doing something that reinforces the behavior.

Don’t pet them or stimulate them further by seeming or sounding excited. The best thing you can do is to stay still until they calm down. Only then should you give them the attention they seek.

Walk away

Walking away is another good technique for curbing this behavior. Instead of giving them the attention they’re after, slowly move away and ignore them until they calm down.

Eventually, they’ll understand that they’ll only get what they want when they’re calm and well behaved.

Redirect the behavior

Making your dog do something else instead of circling your feet could also be a good way to eliminate the behavior. This will teach them acceptable ways by which they can get the attention they want.

For example, if they tend to do this when you come home, you can ask for a sit as soon as they greet you at the door. Don’t give them any attention if they ignore your command but fuss over them and praise them as soon as they follow.

Give your dog plenty of exercise

In many cases, excessive circle and similar obsessive behaviors are caused by an abundance of unused energy. This can be addressed by giving your dog plenty of opportunities to exercise.

This enables them to burn off their excess energy in more productive and acceptable ways.


All dogs have their own quirks, which often make them more endearing to their owners. However, sometimes, odd behaviors are a sign of more serious matters that need to be addressed.

If your dog circles you, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with them. But if it is troubling you, you can take the necessary steps to curb the behavior.

You should also consider consulting with your vet as well as a professional dog trainer.