Why Do Dogs Turn in Circles Before They Lie Down?
When dogs turn around in circles before lying down, they do it out of an instinctive habit of making beds for themselves. The ancestors of modern house dogs were wild animals that lived outside.
Before settling down to sleep, they turned around a few times to flatten the grass and make a comfortable bed.
Even though today’s domesticated dog may sleep indoors on a mat, and doesn’t need to make a bed, it is still born with this instinct for making itself a comfortable place to sleep.
Wild dogs still make their beds by turning in circles. They pat down tall grass and underbrush to make a comfortable bed for themselves and their pups.
The easiest way to prepare the sleeping area is by walking around in a circle. The rounding ritual may also have served as a safety precaution.
“In the wild, the circling would flatten grasses or snow and would drive out any snakes or large insects,” said Irvine, a sociologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who specializes in the role of animals in society.
“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,” Irvine said. “Even though our dogs now sleep on cushions, the behavior endures.”