Why Do Dogs Spin In Circles And Pant?

Our dogs are endlessly fascinating creatures who engage in a wide variety of behaviours and play which can be incredibly entertaining, fascinating, and sometimes worrying. 

I have written an article that discusses why dogs spin in circles whilst sitting on their bottom but in this article I want to look at why dogs spin in circles and pant at the same time.

And to my mind, there are four main reasons for this.  

Four main causes for dogs to spin in circles and pant

If your dog is spinning in circles and panting, there may be several different reasons. 

As detailed below these may be perfectly natural expressions of excitement, heat regulation, or settling before they sleep. 

However, if they are panting and spinning compulsively and in a state of discomfort, there are several different possible causes. 

They are ill or in pain

Walking around in a circle and panting may be a sign that your pet is in pain or feels ill.

Check your dog for external injuries and check to see if their appetite or any other habits are affected.

If you think your pet is ill or in pain, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. 

Your dog may have an ear Infection

If your dog is spinning, panting, and scratching at their ears a lot they may be experiencing pain or discomfort due to an ear infection.

The circling may either be an expression of discomfort or could be due to balance issues they are having due to the infection. 

They are having cognitive problems

If your older dog is panting and spinning in circles, they may be feeling confused or suffering from cognitive issues such as dementia. 

Do they need to be checked for a stroke?

Just like people, dogs can suffer from strokes, and walking around in circles and panting can be a symptom that you should look out for.

As with the above cases, you should make sure your dog gets medical attention as quickly as possible. 

If you believe that your pet is spinning in circles and panting from pain, illness or confusion, contacting your vet should be your first point of action.

The sooner a problem is treated, the sooner your pet’s pain can be relieved. 

There are also plenty of natural reasons a dog may be spinning and/or panting which are not causes for worry.

It is usually only when this behaviour seems excessive or compulsive that you should begin to be concerned.

Scroll down below to discover more reasons you dog may paint and spin in circles. 

Why do dogs spin in circles?

Dogs will spin around before they lay down or poop in order to secure the area around them.

They will also pad down the floor as they turn to make an area comfortable before they settle down to sleep.

Your pet will also spin around in circles to play, expel excess energy and to chase its tail.

Puppies, in particular, will engage in this behaviour a lot. 

More worrying causes for your dog spinning can include boredom and anxiety, medical issues and cognitive disorders.

If your animal is engaged in spinning compulsively and at strange times, you should consult your vets to check if there is anything physically or emotionally wrong with your pet. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of these reasons.

Six reasons that dogs spin in circles

Why do dogs spin before they lay down?

You will notice that your dog may often turn in circles several times while preparing to lay down and sleep.

This behaviour is a habit that dogs developed before domestication. In the wild turning round several times before laying down is a way for canines to make sure the area is safe and secure before they settle. 

During the process, they would be smelling for predators and would also be marking the area with their own scent.

Wild dogs will also be padding down on the ground while circling to push down leaves, twigs and earth to make a comfortable surface to lay down on.

Although now there is much less need, dogs will still instinctively engage in this behaviour when preparing to settle.

You will find they may also do the same when preparing to poop. They need to make sure that the area is safe before they engage in such vulnerable positioning which may leave them open to attack. 

Why do dogs spin when they are excited?

Another instance you may notice your dog spinning around is when they are excited; perhaps they are greeting you when you come home, thrilled about going for a walk, happily anticipating feeding time, or greeting another dog.

In all cases you may find that along with happy yelping, jumping and running around, your dog will spin around in circles to express their happiness and excited feelings. 

This behaviour is a perfectly normal expression of your dog’s emotions, so you can enjoy their excited spinning without worry, as long as the behaviour does not become compulsive.

If they engage in spinning around at strange moments, in slower, unsteady movements and over and over again repeatedly, this may be something to contact a professional about. 

Why is your dog spinning compulsively?

In some rare cases, you may begin to notice that your dog is spinning in a manner which seems compulsive and that they may even ignore eating and sleeping in favour of this movement.

In this case, you should make sure to contact your vets as soon as possible, as this may be caused by anxiety, stress or some other emotional or physical issue that your pet is struggling with. 

Why do dogs spin and chase their tail?

Your pet may often spin in circles, chasing its own tail.

This is generally a way for them to expend energy and have fun when they are bored.

You may find that puppies, in particular, engage in this act, as they are still learning about their bodies and may not even realise that their tail is a part of themselves!

As dogs get older, they will engage in this behaviour less often, but it is still perfectly normal in most cases. 

Why do puppies spin in circles?

Puppies will spin in circles for many of the same reasons detailed above, but they may also do this when they are bored.

Remember that puppies need plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

If a puppy’s pent-up energy isn’t being expended in lots of play, walks and engagement with their owner, they may engage in circling to release the pent-up energy they feel.

This can be accompanied by running around, chasing their tails, and rolling around on the floor. 

This is generally nothing to worry about, but you should keep an eye on your pet to make sure this behaviour doesn’t become a compulsive coping mechanism as your dog grows. 

Why do old dogs spin in circles?

Although this behaviour may be a perfectly normal expression of excitement, playfulness or inherited behaviour when preparing to lie down or poop; if an older dog is spinning around a lot, it can be a symptom of a medical issue.

Older dogs may spin around if they are suffering from confusion, balance and sight issues or cognitive disorders.

If you believe this to be the case, you should take your pet to the vet. 

Five reasons that dogs pant

Animals will pant to regulate their temperature and to express excitement and happiness, both of these are perfectly normal behaviours which should prove no cause for worry.

Panting can also be an expression of stress, fear or anxiety in your pet, and you will need to take steps to comfort them, if so. 

Finally, panting can be a symptom of your dog’s illness or pain, if you believe this to be the case, you should make sure to check for other symptoms your pet may be expressing and contact your vet as soon as possible. 

Below you will find a detailed breakdown of the reasons your dog may be panting and spinning in circles, including the potential causes and what you should look out for if you are worried. 

Dogs pant when they are hot?

One common reason for your dog to pant is that they feel hot.

Panting is part of your pet’s cooling system; they will lower their body temperature by evaporating the moisture on their tongue and mouth.

They will also be exchanging the warm air inside them with cooler gulps of the colder air around them. Dogs don’t have sweat glands, so this is part of how they regulate their heat levels.

This is why you will often see your dog panting if the weather is hot. 

Why is my dog panting and wheezing?

Although in many cases, panting is perfectly normal behaviour, there can be cases where it is a symptom of a medical issue.

If your dog’s panting is accompanied by strained sounds such as gasping, wheezing or whining, you should check to see if your pet’s windpipe is blocked and contact your vet. 

Dogs pant when they are excited

You may ask yourself “Why is my dog panting?” if they seem happy and excited.

If this is the case, the panting will often be accompanied by other indicators of a happy mood such as spinning, jumping, zooming and licking.

Your dog’s eyes will be bright and engaged and their body language will be relaxed.

The panting will subside as your dog calms down. 

Do dogs pant when they are stressed?

Dog panting may also be a sign of a more worrying extreme emotion. A lot of dogs will start panting if they are feeling stressed, anxious, or fearful.

You may notice your dog starts panting during car rides, visits to unfamiliar places or if there are fireworks outside.

If this happens, you should try to lower your dog’s stress levels by removing them from the situation as soon as possible, engaging in comforting sounds and petting and taking care to protect them from these events in the future whenever possible. 

Dogs pant when they are uncomfortable or in pain

If your dog is ill or in pain, it may begin panting.

This can often be accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of appetite, lack of energy and vomiting.

You should contact your vet as soon as possible if you believe that your animal is ill or in pain. If your pet has a raised temperature due to illness, they may pant to cool themselves down.

They may also start panting if they have a bloated or full stomach; if the panting is accompanied by dry heaving or vomiting you should take your pet to the veterinary surgery as soon as possible. 

There are also medical conditions such as laryngeal paralysis and Cushing’s disease which can cause excessive panting, the panting will often be accompanied by wheezing sounds if this is the case.

There are also certain medications your dog may receive from the vet which may increase panting and respiration in your pet. 

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!