Why Do Dogs Run in Circles?

For most dog owners, dogs are endlessly entertaining. They are a joy to own, and each one comes with unique characteristics that make us love them to bits.

Although it might be worrying to see your dog running in circles, it’s nothing to be concerned about more often than not.

Dogs run in circles because they are bored, releasing pent-up energy, or in some rare cases, due to having an underlying medical issue. They may also run in circles to get your attention, especially if this behavior has been rewarded before.

In this article, we will go through all the reasons your dog might be running in circles and will also talk about ways to keep your dog from zooming around unnecessarily. Let’s get started!

What Are Zoomies?

Zoomies is the common name for what, in technical terms, is known as Frenetic Random Activity Periods (or FRAPs for short). Typically they involve a dog running around and around in fast circles.

Here is a great video showing exactly what dog zoomies look like:

 

NOTE – Check this post out if you are interested in reading about why dogs love to walk.

Why Is My Dog Zooming Around in Circles?

If your dog has lots of pent-up energy, it will need to expend it somehow.

It’s natural to feel cooped up if they haven’t left the house all day, especially if they’ve been alone for an extended period.

So it’s perfectly normal for them to get excited and zoom around when you finally get home.

Your dog is zooming because they need to expend energy. Not having enough exercise or being kept in the house for too long might be why. Or they’re just excited to see you. They might also run in circles because they’ve just left a situation that made them nervous.

If you’ve got a very young pup, they might run in circles and zoom around the house all the time, and this is perfectly normal. They just have lots of youthful energy.

However, if you’ve got an older dog, they may only occasionally run around circles. In this case, it’s likely something to do with lack of stimulation or feeling like they need to exhaust themselves to relieve stress.

If they aren’t getting enough exercise or don’t have any toys to play with, this behavior is very likely. Having a dog is a bit like having a child.

You need to ensure they have plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

Finally, a medical condition might be the cause. Although this isn’t very likely unless they are explicitly chasing their tail or targeting their hind legs.

If they have dementia or a similar condition, this kind of behavior is indicative. Don’t panic yet – take your dog to see a veterinarian to do a complete checkup.

Before we look at how to stop this behavior, you might want to watch this short video with some great information about dog zoomies (and some adorable dogs!).

 

NOTE – You might find this post useful, looking at why do dogs get zoomies after a bath.

How To Stop Your Dog Running in Circles

If your dog is running in circles occasionally, and the cause is apparent, such as you getting home from work, don’t try to stop them from running in circles and let them tire themselves out.

Some occasional excitable behaviors are normal for your furry friend, so allow them to express themselves how they wish.

However, if your dog runs in circles every day, this might cause concern. Try to practice patience with your dog when trying to decipher the cause.

To stop your dog from running in circles, pick out one or more of the following solutions and try them out.

If they aren’t responding, it’s time to take them to your local veterinarian to see if it’s a medical condition causing the problem.

NOTE – You might also enjoy this post we wrote about why dogs shake after you pet them.

1. Daily Mental and Physical Stimulation

Your dog needs exercise and playtime every day. That means checking how much exercise your dog needs – usually determined by size and breed – and making sure they get enough to keep them healthy and happy.

It’s important to remember that your dog may suffer from medical conditions in the long term if they aren’t getting enough daily exercise. Exercise is ultimately preventative and keeps them healthy.

Additionally, you can entertain your pooch at home by purchasing toys for them to play with. For example, try to make mealtimes fun by using interactive food dispensers and spend time throwing a ball or play fighting with them.

These games can be great fun for your furry friend. This can help ensure your dog doesn’t have all this pent-up energy.

2. Avert Their Attention to Something Else

If your dog is zooming or running in circles, try to grab their attention using one of their toys. Don’t use treats in this scenario (since this ultimately rewards this behavior), but grab their favorite ball and play fetch with them for a while.

This takes away their attention from zoomies and gets them to focus on something different that is still engaging and entertaining.

3. Always Have a Chew Toy on Hand

Chew toys are miracle workers. You can easily distract your pup from running in circles if you’ve got one.

You can buy chews made from pigskin that they’ll be delighted to chew on for hours, or you can get a Kong toy.

Either way, it serves as a helpful distraction from the undesired behavior and allows them to expend their energy in less chaotic ways.

4. Never Punish Your Dog for Running in Circles

This should go without saying, but punishing your dog for unwanted behaviors is unfair and unhelpful.

The best way to train a dog is to use positive reinforcement to train the dog into doing the desired behavior. It works and is kind to the dog.

Final Thoughts

If your dog has the zoomies and is running around in circles, it’s probably nothing to worry about. Some degree of zooming is perfectly normal.

However, if you think they are running in circles due to mental distress, it’s best to be safe than sorry.

Take them to see a veterinarian to make sure there isn’t something serious going on with your dog.

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