Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Poop?

Have you ever noticed that your dog circles around before they poop? It’s a common behavior among canines, but why do dogs circle before they poop? This article will explore the possible reasons behind this behavior and provide insight into why your pup may be circling before they do their business.

What is the Purpose of Circling?

Circling is a behavior that dogs exhibit before they poop. It is an instinctive behavior that helps them to find the best spot to do their business. Dogs will circle around, sniffing the ground and pawing at it, before they settle on a spot to poop. This behavior is thought to have evolved as a way for dogs to mark their territory and make sure they are in a safe place when they go to the bathroom.

The Role of Instinct

The instinctive nature of circling is thought to be rooted in the wild ancestors of modern-day dogs. Wolves and other wild canids would circle around before pooping in order to mark their territory and make sure that they were safe from predators while doing their business. This instinct has been passed down through generations of domesticated dogs, and it is still seen in many breeds today.

The Role of Comfort

Dogs also circle around before pooping as a way to make sure that they are comfortable with the spot they have chosen. By sniffing around and pawing at the ground, dogs can make sure that there are no potential dangers or surprises lurking beneath the surface. This helps them feel secure when they go to do their business, which can be especially important for puppies or older dogs who may be more vulnerable than adult dogs.

What Does Circling Look Like?

Circling is a behavior that dogs often exhibit before they poop. It usually involves the dog walking in a tight circle, sniffing the ground as they go. This behavior is thought to be instinctual and is believed to help the dog find an ideal spot to relieve themselves.

Types of Circling

Circling can take on many forms, depending on the breed and individual dog:

  • Smaller breeds may only make one or two circles before pooping.
  • Larger breeds may make multiple circles before settling on a spot.
  • Some dogs may even walk in a figure-eight pattern.

No matter what type of circling your dog does, it’s important to remember that this behavior is normal and instinctual.

Common Behaviors During Circling

When circling, dogs typically exhibit certain behaviors:

  • Sniffing
  • : Dogs will use their powerful sense of smell to search for an ideal spot to poop.

  • Pawing
  • : Dogs may paw at the ground as they circle in order to flatten out the area where they plan to go potty.

  • Scratching
  • : Some dogs may also scratch at the ground with their back legs after they have finished pooping in order to cover up their waste with dirt or leaves.

Why Do Some Dogs Not Circle?

Circling before pooping is a common behavior among dogs, but not all dogs do this. The reasons why some dogs don’t circle before pooping can vary, but often it is due to a lack of space or time, or a lack of instinctual urge.

Lack of Space or Time

Dogs may not have the opportunity to circle before pooping if they are in an enclosed area with limited space, such as a small backyard or a dog run. Additionally, if the dog is rushed to go outside and does not have enough time to circle before pooping, they may simply go straight to the task at hand.

Lack of Instinctual Urge

Some dogs may simply lack the instinctual urge to circle before pooping. According to research conducted by the USDA Animal Care, circling behavior is thought to be an instinctive behavior that has been passed down from wild ancestors who needed to protect themselves by creating a scent barrier while defecating in order to avoid predators. Therefore, some domesticated dogs may not feel the need to circle before pooping due to their environment being much safer than that of their wild ancestors.


Is Circling Necessary for Pooping?

Circling before pooping is a common behavior exhibited by many dogs. While the exact reason why dogs circle before they poop is not known, it is believed to be a remnant of their wild ancestors’ behavior. Wild canines would circle around an area to mark their territory and ward off potential predators. This behavior has been passed down through generations and is now seen in domestic dogs as well.

Benefits of Circling Before Pooping

Circling before pooping can be beneficial for both the dog and the owner. For the dog, it serves as a way to mark its territory and make sure that other animals know that this area belongs to them. It also helps them to relax and get into a comfortable position for pooping. For the owner, it can help them keep track of where their dog has gone to do its business, making it easier to clean up afterwards.

Alternatives to Circling Before Pooping

If your dog does not naturally circle before pooping, there are still some alternatives you can try. Taking your dog for regular walks in familiar areas can help them become more comfortable with their surroundings and reduce anxiety when it comes time to do their business. You can also try providing your pup with an area that is designated just for pooping, such as a patch of grass or dirt in your yard. This will give them a safe space where they can go without feeling anxious or threatened by other animals or people in the area. Additionally, providing positive reinforcement when they do go in the right spot can help encourage this behavior in the future.

How Can I Help My Dog Circle Before Pooping?

Dogs often circle before they poop as a way to mark their territory. To help your dog with this natural behavior, there are a few things you can do.

Creating a Routine for Your Dog

Creating a routine for your dog can help them feel more comfortable and secure when it comes time to go potty. Here are some tips to help create a routine:

  • Take your dog out at the same time each day.
  • Choose the same spot for them to go potty.
  • Provide verbal cues such as “go potty” or “go pee” when you take them out.
  • Reward them with treats or praise when they go in the right spot.

Providing a Comfortable Environment

Creating a comfortable environment for your dog is also important. Make sure their area is free of distractions and has plenty of space for them to move around. You can also provide toys or treats that will keep them occupied while they wait to go potty. Additionally, make sure their area is well lit so that they can easily see where they are going. According to the ASPCA, providing an environment that is comfortable and familiar will make it easier for your pup to relax and circle before pooping.


It’s clear that dogs have a variety of reasons for circling before they poop. From instinctual behavior to marking their territory, it’s likely that your pup is engaging in this behavior for one of these reasons. If you’re concerned about why your dog circles before they go to the bathroom, it may be best to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

At A Pet’s Home, we understand how important it is to keep your pup healthy and happy. That’s why we provide helpful resources and tips on how to care for your pet. Visit apetshome.com today to learn more!

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