Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Go To The Toilet?

Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Go To The Toilet?

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Dogs can exhibit a lot of strange behaviors. One of those behaviors is going around and around in circles in the garden before they use nature as their toilet. We as humans have wondered why dogs do this for a long time, and for a long time, no one really understood why.

Now, however, we have a few ideas why your dog could be doing the dance before doing their business. 

They Want Their Poop to be Visible to Others

In many ways, you can be grateful for this behavior. Your dog could go around in circles to stomp down the grass or leaves in that spot. By doing that, what they leave behind will easily be seen by other animals and, thankfully, humans. This can be a way of marking their territory and is like leaving a poster up somewhere saying that this is your area and trespassers will be prosecuted. 

Dogs that see this might ignore it or avoid it, depending on the dog you have. However, your dog may be in the mindset of simply marking their territory and making sure the whole passing world can see their decree. We can be thankful that they do this in grassy fields where we might otherwise not see their mess and step in it. 

They Might Want a Clean Area to Poop or Pee

Like us, many dogs would prefer to be able to do their business in a place that is clean. Imagine sitting down to do your business, but you do not get the chance to look where you are sitting. Your dog would like to avoid this and preferably not step in another dog’s mess they left behind the day before.

For this reason, the behavior of spinning is something to be grateful for, again. If your dog did not circle and area to check if it was clean, you could end up having to bathe them every time you went for a walk. Nobody has time to wash their dog every day, and your dog is doing all the hard work for you, anyway. 

To Check If There Any Threats in the Area

No one wants to be caught in a vulnerable position with their pants down, and your dog is no different. We have all heard too many horror stories of people sitting down to do their business only to get an uninvited visitor like a snake. Chances are, your dog has heard those too (okay, well this is a natural instinct), and wants to avoid that kind of situation.

Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Go To The Toilet 2

Your dog will turn in circles before doing their business to make sure that there are no dangers in the area. When they are doing their thing, they will be vulnerable, so they will want to ensure their safety.

Because of this, it is also pretty common for your dog to stare at you while they do their business – you make them feel safer, and they could do with that reassurance when they are potentially at risk.

The Magnetic Field Needs to be Just Right

This one may sound weird, but bear with me. Research has been done on the subject, and it has been found that a lot of dogs like to align themselves with the magnetic poles of the Earth. Specifically, the North-South axis.

In a study conducted with 70 dogs, researchers studied the dogs’ behaviors they exhibited when going to the toilet. They learned that, before the dogs in the study pooped, they aligned themselves with the magnetic field. 

With that being said, we do not know if this behavior was conscious or unconscious, so it is a little up in the air. They may naturally align themselves with the North-South axis, or maybe it is a coincidence. It is possible that being aligned with the axis makes them feel better, but again, there is no evidence to support it.

What is interesting, though, is that dogs are not the only ones that like to align themselves with the magnetic poles when going to the toilet. 

Why Dogs Might Not Want to Poop On Walks

Now not everyone wants to talk about their dog’s pooping, but as owners you need to know when your dog is healthy and when they need veterinary attention. You also need to know that you should never rush your dog when you are out on a walk when they are trying to do their business.

If you begin to associate feelings of stress and danger with them doing their business, you could have a lot more problems on your plate before long. You need to give your animal a safe space to do their thing, and they require enough time to make themselves feel comfortable and safe before they get it done.

After all, we have all been in a public bathroom that is not secure when we were desperate to do our own business. You do not want your dog to feel that way. Unless there are extreme weather conditions (like torrential rain, freezing cold or boiling hot temperatures), you need to be patient. If you do not like being in below freezing temperatures, your dog probably doesn’t like it, either. 

If your dog seems very indecisive when trying to pick a spot to poop, figure out why. The street you are on might be too busy and noisy, or maybe the weather is not a great match for it.

If you are in a park, your dog might not want to poop because of other dogs around or because something else is happening in earshot. Some dogs just are not comfortable enough to poop when they are out on walks and will wait until they are home.

Like people, dogs will have different personalities. As a result, dogs that are more nervous are less likely to do their business out in public where there are unknown noises and dangers. They would rather wait until they are in the privacy and comfort of their own backyard before doing what they need to do.

Just because your dog does not want to poop while on a walk does not mean that you do not need to walk them, though. Walking your dog is essential for their health in terms of exercise, and they get the chance to mix with the world around them by seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling different things.

What You Can Do to Help Them?

If you feel like your dog is a little too indecisive on picking a spot to poop, and you cannot figure out why, talk to a trainer.

Why Do Dogs Circle Before They Go To The Toilet

Trainers and other dog professionals will have a lot of inside knowledge about our canine friends that the average person will not know. Talking to them about any possible reasons can help you solve the problem, but you will need to be fully transparent with your dog, their behavior, and even your own. In order to determine what the problem is, the professional will need to know every detail, especially if it is an unusual case. 

You might have the option to train your dog to go to the toilet on command. This can help a lot, but might not always be suitable. You could also try walking a different route and trying various routes to see if that makes a difference. It is possible that your dog simply is not comfortable on a specific route because of a particular smell or animal that lives nearby.

Constipation could also play a role in your dog’s uncertainty. It might look like they are just spinning, but in reality they could be struggling to go in the first place. If this is the case. A visit to the vet might be in order. You need to keep in mind what your dog eats and how much you exercise them, as both these things can have an effect on their ability to poop.

If you buy dog food, check what is in it or try other brands of food. You can even make your own dog food at home – at least that way you know what goes into it! Ultimately, however, you should talk to your vet to decide on the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all the reasons why your dog might be circling before going to the toilet, how do you feel? Like a weight has been lifted off your chest and that one question that has always been  in your mind has been answered? However you feel, now you have all the information you need to help your dog poop in peace. 

If your dog is circling or struggling to do their business, whether on walk or at home, go through each of the points above and see if you can figure out why. Your dog’s health is up to you, and pooping is a big part of that, so always be on the lookout for if anything ever changes with your pet’s habits.

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