Dogs display a number of unusual behaviors and as a dog owner you have probably experienced some at one point. One of these behaviors is dog barking and circling.
It is quite concerning to hear your dog barking and circling, especially if you’re not sure what’s causing the behavior.
We’ll go over the various reasons why dog barking and circling happens, tips for addressing this behavior, and when to seek help.
Here’s why dog barking and circling happens
Dog barking and circling happens due to stress, boredom, underlying medical condition, playfulness, attention seeking behavior, and senior dog medical problems. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the behavior, so that you can then take appropriate action to fix it.
Is it normal for dogs to bark and circle?
In some situations, barking and circling behavior is normal and even playful in dogs, for example, when a dog circles when they are excited to play or when trying to get your attention. However, it can be a sign of an underlying medical or behavioral problem that needs to be addressed.
It is important to consider the situation in which the barking and circling behavior occurs and to also pay attention to any other changes in your dog so as to determine the cause of the behavior. This will help you provide the support and care that they need.
Related: Dog barking and choking (Explained)
Reasons Behind Dog Barking And Circling
A dog walking in circles and barking can be as a result of stress. Stress can sometimes cause a dog to bark and walk in circles, which can either be repeatedly in the same direction or in random directions.
Dogs can experience stress due to a variety of factors a including change in their routine, a new environment including a new home, people, pets, or separation anxiety.
One common cause of stress that can lead to barking and circling behavior is separation anxiety. Dogs who are anxious about being left alone may bark and circle as a way of relieving stress and burning off excess energy.
Other behaviors due to stress include pacing, growling, crying or whining, yawning that is unrelated to tiredness, tucked ears and tail, lip licking, and body stiffness.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. When they do not have enrichment activities to serve this purpose, they may act strangely including barking and walking in circles.
Other behaviors due to boredom include crying, destructive behavior such as digging, chewing furniture, books, shoes, and other undesirable behaviors.
Therefore if your dog doesn’t have anything to do and is bored, they may bark and walk in circles as a way to release pent-up energy.
Underlying medical condition
Barking and circling behavior may also be a sign of a medical issue. A dog may bark and circle, including other symptoms, if they are experiencing pain or discomfort from illness.
Dog barking and walking in circles can be signs of discomfort or an attempt to communicate their pain.
Playfulness can be cause for a dog to bark and walk in circles as a way of expressing excitement and anticipation. This behavior is often seen in puppies or younger dogs, who are full of energy and enthusiasm.
When a dog is feeling playful, they may start walking in circles as a way of warming up or getting ready to play.
They may also circle around toys or other objects as a way of expressing their excitement or anticipation. This behavior can be a form of self-stimulation or a way of releasing pent-up energy.
Playful barking and circling is often a normal and harmless behavior in dogs, however it is important to distinguish it from behavior that is caused by stress or other issues.
Dogs that bark and walk in circles due to stress or anxiety may show other symptoms, such as panting, pacing, or whining, and may not seem as engaged or excited as dogs who are barking and circling playfully.
Attention seeking behavior
Barking and growling ia also a way for dogs to get their owner’s attention, either for affection or to get something they want, such as food or a toy.
Dogs naturally crave attention from both their owners and when they don’t receive enough of it, they might turn to barking and growling to get it.
This is especially true for dogs that are left alone for long periods of time and it occurs due to anxiety or loneliness.
Senior dog medical problems
In senior dogs, barking and walking in circles can be signs of underlying medical problems. Medical conditions that can cause these symptoms, include canine cognitive dysfunction, pain, hearing or vision loss.
Canine cognitive dysfunction is a condition similar to dementia in humans and can cause confusion, disorientation, and changes in behavior. Barking and walking in circles can be signs of this condition in senior dogs.
Senior dogs may also experience pain or discomfort due to arthritis, dental issues, or other medical conditions. Barking and walking in circles can be signs of discomfort or an attempt to communicate their pain.
Hearing or vision loss in senior dogs can cause confusion and disorientation. Barking and walking in circles are signs of their attempts to navigate their environment and/or communicate their needs.
What to do when your dog is barking and circling
If your dog is healthy with no signs of illness, there is no cause for concern because it is normal for dogs to show this behavior in certain situations. However, it is important to know the meaning behind your dog’s behavior so that you can address the situation.
Find the trigger
First, generally assess the possible reason behind your dog’s behavior, whether it is due to illness, playfulness, or any other cause. Observe their behavior and try to determine the cause.
Is your dog barking and circling repeatedly in a certain situation because they are bored, playful, or sick? Are they barking and circling to get your attention? Are they behaving this way cause of stress?
Overall, it’s important to consider the specific circumstances and situation in which the barking and circling behavior occurs in order to determine the most likely cause.
Once you have a better understanding of their behavior you can act in a way that is appropriate to meet your dog’s needs.
Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to be healthy and also work off pent up energy. Therefore provide toys for them to play with, activities, or exercise appropriate for their age.
This will help reduce boredom and attention-seeking behaviors.
Stress-related barking and circling behavior may be more likely to occur in situations where a dog feels threatened or uncertain, such as new or unfamiliar environment, loud noises, or new people.
It’s important to try to identify the specific cause of the stress and to address it in order to help reduce your dog’s anxiety and improve their behavior.
If stress is the underlying cause of your dog’s barking and circling, minimize your dog’s exposure to stress triggers and also remove them from these triggers.
This may involve providing your dog with additional socialization, mental or physical stimulation, or training to help them feel more confident and comfortable in different situations.
Let them play
If your dog is barking and circling due to playfulness, it’s generally nothing to worry about, and you can encourage them by engaging in play or providing plenty of toys and opportunities for exercise.
However, if you notice other symptoms or if the barking and circling behavior seems excessive or unusual, consult your veterinarian.
When to seek help
Consult a veterinarian if you are unsure of the cause of your dog’s barking and circling, if you suspect that the behavior may be a sign of a medical issue, or if your dog is distressed.
The veterinarian will assess your dog’s overall health and determine if there are any underlying medical conditions or behavioral problems that need to be addressed.
It is also particularly important to see a veterinarian if your dog’s barking and circling is:
- Excessive and a sudden change of behavior: If barking and circling are sudden or unusual, it could be an indication of an underlying medical condition or psychological problem. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your dog, and perform necessary diagnostic tests to identify the reason for the behavior and provide a solution.
- The behavior is accompanied by other symptoms: When barking and circling are accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or other behavior changes could indicate a medical problem that needs to be addressed.
Overall, it’s important to note that every dog is an individual and that barking and circling behavior can be caused by a variety of factors. A veterinarian can provide the expertise and guidance you need to determine the cause and the most appropriate course of action to help address your dog’s behavior.