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Is Your Dog Pacing and Circling? You Might Be Surprised By What It Means

by Craig Fields 12 Jun 2024
Is Your Dog Pacing and Circling? You Might Be Surprised By What It Means

What to Do if Your Dog Won't Lay Down and Keeps Pacing?

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because your normally calm dog is suddenly restless? Instead of sleeping on their bed, your dog is pacing in circles, leaving you confused and worried. Even though you try to calm him down, he keeps moving around. Sometimes, he might even whine, making you more concerned.

We'll explore why dogs act this way to help you and your dog return to peaceful nights. We'll look at the possible reasons for your dog's dog circling and pacing and give tips to help him settle down. Let's solve this mystery together and bring back quiet, restful nights for everyone!

What is Pacing and Circling in dogs?



Dog pacing and circling can be normal for dogs, often related to activities like sniffing or investigating. However, if your dog does this frequently without an apparent reason, it might be a sign of a more serious issue. This behavior could indicate pain, neurological problems, or even canine dementia. If you notice unusual pacing and circling, visiting your vet to check for any underlying health problems is a good idea.

Symptoms of Pacing and Dog Circling

The symptoms of compulsive behaviors in dogs can vary. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Your dog keeps circling, even when you try to distract them with a game or walk.
  • Confusion or disorientation.
  • Aimless wandering.
  • Changes in sleeping habits.
  • Changes in how they walk.
  • Changes in house training habits.
  • Changes in appetite, either eating more or less.
  • Other compulsive behaviors like spinning, tail chasing, snapping at invisible flies, excessive licking, fixation on toys, or excessive barking.

Types Of Canine Circling

Pacing and dog circling in can happen for different reasons:

  • Environmental factors or external influences
  • General health issues
  • Neurological or cancer-related problems

While it might seem cute or funny when your dog chases its tail or paces for hours, this behavior could signal a severe problem. It's not just to get your attention; it might mean something more profound is wrong. It's essential to have it checked and treated by a vet as soon as possible.

Causes of dogs pacing in circles

Some pacing and circling can be normal for dogs, especially if they can be easily distracted and don't do it too much. This usually isn't a cause for concern. However, if your dog is pacing and circling without any apparent reason, or if the behavior is increasing and happening all the time, it could be a sign of a problem. Here are some possible causes for these compulsive behaviors:

Anxiety or Anxiety Disorder 

Here are some possible causes of your dog's pacing and circling:

  • Fear of loud noises like fireworks
  • Not enough space to move around
  • Lack of mental or physical activity
  • Genetic tendency to be anxious (common in some breeds)
  • Pain from an injury or other condition
  • Remembering a past traumatic event
  • Canine-compulsive disorder, similar to human OCD, causes repetitive behavior

Liver Disease or Abnormality

  • A diseased or damaged liver can cause neurological issues, leading to pacing, circling, head pressing, and behavior changes.
  • Hepatitis and some parasitic infections can also lead to neurological problems.
  • A liver shunt happens when a blood vessel bypasses the liver, preventing it from cleaning out toxins.
  • When blood bypasses the liver, toxins build up in the bloodstream and kidneys, causing neurological damage.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Doggy Dementia: This condition causes brain changes similar to those in humans, leading to symptoms like pacing, restlessness, and more barking or whining.

Brain Tumor: As a tumor grows, it puts pressure on the brain, causing neurologic changes that result in pacing, circling, and other repetitive behaviors.

Ear Infections: Infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites can affect a dog's balance, leading to circling, head tilting, and restlessness.

Idiopathic Vestibular Disease: Common in older dogs, this condition usually improves within a few days but can sometimes cause lasting effects like a mild head tilt.

Diagnosis of Pacing and Circling Dogs

Diagnosing the causes of pacing and circling in dogs isn't simple and can't be done with a quick blood test. Your vet will need a detailed history, including your dog's diet, living arrangements, exercise routine, past injuries or health issues, and the symptoms you've observed. You'll also need to describe how long the symptoms have lasted, whether they appeared gradually or suddenly, and how severe they are.

Your vet will perform a physical exam and may need to order tests like blood, urine, fecal analysis, and X-rays, CT scans, or MRI imaging to check for any masses causing your pet's symptoms. Once the test results are in and evaluated, your vet will create and start a treatment plan for your dog.

Treatment of Pacing and Circling in Dogs


Your vet will choose treatment based on what's causing your pet's pacing, circling, and other behaviors.

  • If it's a health issue, treatment could include medication, surgery for tumors, or changes to their diet.
  • If it's a behavioral issue, your vet might suggest training and changes to your pet's environment to reduce stress.
  • If tests show nothing wrong, your vet might refer you to an animal behaviorist for help.
  • Canine dementia can't be cured, but your vet may recommend changes to their environment, a special diet, and supplements to manage it.

Exploring CBD Oil for Managing Pacing and Circling Dogs

Some pet owners are trying CBD oil as a possible solution for their dogs' pacing in circles. CBD oil works with the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate mood, sleep, and pain. It might help with the issues causing your dog's behavior. However, research on CBD oil for specific dog behaviors is still ongoing.

Before using CBD oil, talk to your vet. They can determine why your dog is pacing and decide if CBD oil is safe. They can also recommend the proper dosage and reliable sources for CBD products made for dogs. Always consult your vet to ensure the best care for your furry friend.

Recovery of Pacing and Circling in Dogs

The prognosis for your dog's recovery from pacing and circling depends on what your vet finds as the cause. Some conditions might need ongoing or occasional treatment throughout your dog's life. Other issues could have simpler solutions, like giving your dog more exercise, playtime, mental stimulation, or a diet change. Regardless of the cause, giving your dog pacing in circles lots of affection, affirmation, and attention will always be essential.

You May Like: Can CBD Help With Dog Aggression?



Why is my dog pacing and acting weird?

Pacing and unusual behavior in dogs can be caused by various factors, including anxiety, stress, physical discomfort, or underlying medical conditions. Observing any other symptoms and consulting your vet to determine the cause is essential.

Why does my dog keep getting up and moving around?

Your dog may get up and move around due to discomfort, restlessness, anxiety, or boredom. It could also indicate a need for more exercise, mental stimulation, or an underlying health issue that needs attention from your vet.

Why does my dog pace back and forth?

Dogs often pace back and forth when anxious, stressed, or excited. It can also be a sign of pain, a need for more exercise, or an underlying medical condition. Monitoring your dog's behavior and consulting a vet can help determine the cause.

Why does my dog pace so much?

Excessive pacing in dogs can result from anxiety, stress, pain, or health problems such as cognitive dysfunction, neurological issues, or infections. Ensuring your dog gets enough physical and mental exercise and consulting a vet can help address the issue.

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