“Before lying down my dog circles and circles. Why?” Many of the Newton Falls Public Library staff members own dogs and have noticed their pets exhibiting this same behavior.
We began our search by looking at some of the numerous library books about dogs, specifically dog behavior. Closely examining Dogs: a startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior, and evolution by Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger, The truth about dogs: an inquiry into the ancestry, social conventions, mental habits, and moral fiber of Canis familiaris by Stephen Budiansky and Wild discovery guide to your dog: understanding and caring for the wolf within, we found many interesting facts about why they do many of the things they do. Budiansky’s book has a very readable chapter entitled Odd, but (Mostly) Normal Behavior. While very intriguing, it didn’t address our patron’s question.
Continuing the search online, we found there seems to be a general consensus of reasons on many of the websites. The behavior is possibly genetic, stemming from wild ancestors who circled their sleeping areas before lying down. It ensured grassy or snow covered areas were flattened and clear. It also gave an opportunity to examine the area to see if there were any dangerous things such as snakes or poisonous insects which needed driven away. As a pack animal, it also marked this sleeping area as theirs.