Have you ever noticed that your German Shepherd dog circles around you when you’re in the same room? If so, then you’re not alone. It’s a behavior that many owners of this breed have observed and wondered about.
It can be quite disconcerting if your pet is standing there staring at you while turning slowly in circles! But why does it happen? Is your German Shepherd trying to tell you something or express something with its circling behavior?
This blog post will explore possible explanations for why your German Shepherd may circle you.
So, what is the secret of German Shepherds circling?
German Shepherds are intelligent, and loyal dogs often considered the ideal family pet breed. German Shepherds will circle their owners to express their adoration as part of their loyal and loving nature. This circling behavior is a type of body language they use to communicate their feelings of devotion and protectiveness towards their owners.
Circling can signal nervousness or insecurity in your German Shepherd, as they may feel anxious or scared around unfamiliar people or animals. This circling behavior could be their way of creating a protective barrier between themselves and the outside world.
Also, circling could be an instinctual response in German Shepherds, as they are traditionally used to herd animals and protect livestock. This herding behavior can also be seen in their circling of humans, as they may do this to take charge or show dominance in the household.
Reasons why German Shepherds circle their owners
Understanding body language is one of the most important skills you must develop as a German Shepherd dog owner.
Learning dog body language if you have a German Shepherd is important because it helps you understand why they are doing certain behaviors.
For example, your dog might circle you to show that they love and care for you, or it may circle you when they feel scared or anxious. There is a huge difference between these two situations; learning their body language will help you understand them better and know how to care for them better.
Here are the 10 most common reasons why German Shepherds circle their owners:
1. To show devotion and loyalty
2. To express feelings of adoration
3. To create a protective barrier
4. Out of instinctual herding behavior
5. As an attempt to take charge or assert dominance
6. When feeling anxious or insecure around new people/animals
7. As a way to show affection for their owners
8. In response to physical proximity from their owners
9. When needing attention from their owners
10. To follow a scent or trail
To show devotion and loyalty
German Shepherds will circle to show their owners' devotion and loyalty. This is a common behavior seen in many breeds, especially German Shepherds. This circling behavior can express affection or protectiveness towards their owners.
German Shepherds' herding instinct is particularly strong, which can cause circling behavior as they try to herd their owners. Moreover, this circling behavior can also indicate a strong bond between the dog and its owner.
Therefore, if your German Shepherd circles around you, it may be their way of expressing their devotion and loyalty towards you.
To express feelings of adoration
German Shepherds also may circle you to express feelings of adoration. This behavior is a sign of devotion, loyalty, and an expression of love and affection towards their owners.
German Shepherds display this behavior to communicate their feelings and show that they care for their owners.
They will usually circle when they feel comfortable in the presence of their owners, as this circling behavior is a sign of contentment and happiness in the relationship. If your German Shepherd circles you, it may be their way of expressing adoration for you.
To create a protective barrier
German Shepherds may circle their owners when anxious or scared around unfamiliar people or animals. This circling behavior could be their way of creating a protective barrier between themselves and the outside world.
This defensive behavior is common in German Shepherds, naturally protective and loyal breeds. Furthermore, this instinctual reaction can help them feel secure around unfamiliar people or animals.
Out of instinctual herding behavior
German Shepherds' herding instinct is particularly strong, which can cause circling behavior as they try to herd their owners. This behavior may come from the breed’s history of being used for herding and protecting livestock.
Circling could be an instinctual response in German Shepherds, as they are traditionally used to guide, herd, and protect other animals.
As an attempt to take charge or assert dominance
Your German Shepherd may also circle you to take charge or show domestic dominance. This is usually seen when your dog feels threatened by another person or animal, and they try to establish its authority over the situation.
It is important to remember that dominance does not necessarily mean aggression. If your German Shepherd circles to show dominance, it could be their way of protecting you and asserting themselves in a situation.
When feeling anxious or insecure around new people/animals
Your German Shepherd may also circle when they feel uncomfortable or anxious in unfamiliar situations. This circling behavior is usually seen when they are around new people or animals.
This behavior could be your German Shepherd's way of seeking security and comfort from their owners in unfamiliar situations.
As a way to show affection for their owners
Circling can also signify that your German Shepherd loves you and wants to show affection for you. This is usually seen when they are comfortable in their owner's presence and want to express their devotion.
German Shepherds often circle their owners to show loyalty and affection towards them. If your German Shepherd circles you, it could be their way of expressing love and adoration for you.
In response to physical proximity from their owners
German Shepherds may also express their affection through circling, a response to physical closeness with their owners. This behavior can be seen when your dog is close to you and seeks comfort and security by circling you.
Your German Shepherd may also follow you around the house or yard as they seek reassurance from your presence. Circling can signify their love and dependence on you, expressing their trust in the relationship.
When needing attention from their owners
German Shepherds may also circle to get your attention to communicate their needs and desires. They could ask for food, water, exercise, or want to play with you.
Circling can be seen as an instinctual response in German Shepherds that seek attention and affection from their owners. If your German Shepherd circles you, it could be their way of asking for your attention and care.
German Shepherds (aka. velcro dogs) are extremely social dogs; you must give them much attention.
To follow a scent or trail
Another possible reason your German Shepherd is circling you is that they follow a scent or trail. This behavior can often be seen in high-energy dogs that love to explore their surroundings.
Your German Shepherd may circle if it finds something interesting, like another animal or an enticing smell. This instinctual behavior allows them to follow the scent and explore their environment.
7 behavioral issues that cause circling
Several behavioral issues could cause your German Shepherd to circle you. These include:
1. Separation anxiety
3. Lack of exercise
4. Fear or aggression
5. Compulsive disorders
6. Emotional trauma
7. Ancestral instincts
Circling due to separation anxiety is a sign that your German Shepherd may be overly stressed and struggling to cope with feeling alone. This can create excessive stress and lead to destructive behavior, such as digging, chewing, barking, or pacing.
Over time, this anxiety can cause physical issues like digestive problems, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and other health concerns. If left untreated, separation anxiety in dogs can worsen over time and manifest into even more serious behavioral issues.
Therefore it is important to recognize when your dog's circling behavior is caused by separation anxiety so you can get them the proper help they need.
Related blog post: German Shepherd separation anxiety - Learn how to beat it
Boredom in dogs can cause them to engage in destructive behaviors, including circles. If your German Shepherd is bored, they may circle you out of a lack of stimulation and activity.
This behavior is usually due to a lack of mental or physical exercise, which can lead to boredom and restlessness. Give your dog plenty of opportunities to exercise and explore to prevent boredom-related circling.
Lack of Exercise
If your German Shepherd isn't getting enough exercise, it may start circling out of pent-up energy. This usually happens when a dog doesn't have the opportunity to release their natural energy through physical activity or playtime.
Regular walks, run, and trips to the dog park can help your German Shepherd release energy healthily. Adding mental stimulation to your dog's routine, like puzzle toys or agility training, can provide them with much-needed mental stimulation.
German Shepherds are dog breeds with a high energy level, and you need to exercise with your GSD for at least 60-90 minutes daily. We prepared a list of the best things you can do with your German Shepherd.
Related blog post: The best things to do with your German Shepherd
Fear or Aggression
If your German Shepherd is circling you out of fear or aggression, seeking professional help is important. An experienced trainer or veterinarian can provide valuable advice on how to handle the situation and assess your dog's behavior and health.
If your German Shepherd has a compulsive disorder, it may circle due to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. This could be caused by anything from an underlying physical issue to a neurological disorder.
In these situations, it is important to ensure your German Shepherd receives the proper medical care and attention needed. An experienced vet can diagnose and treat any underlying physical or mental issues your dog may have.
If your German Shepherd has suffered from emotional trauma, it may circle as a way to cope. This could be due to a traumatic event or experience in the past, such as abuse or abandonment.
Again, professional help should be sought if you suspect your German Shepherd is struggling with emotional trauma. A qualified vet can provide treatment and support to help address the issue and provide the necessary comfort they need.
Sometimes, your German Shepherd may circle due to their ancestral instincts. These dogs were bred as herding and guard animals, so they may feel the urge to circle to protect their family or herd animals.
7 medical conditions that cause circling
Some German Shepherds may circle due to an underlying medical condition. In these cases, it is important to seek professional help from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Common medical conditions that can cause circling in German Shepherds include:
1. Vestibular disease
4. Bladder infections
5. Ear infections
7. Neurological disorders
A veterinarian can diagnose and treat any underlying medical issues causing your German Shepherd to circle. You should be able to reduce or eliminate circling behavior with proper treatment.
So, if you notice any storage and unusual behavior in your German Shepherd dog, please talk to your vet.
Let's now see when these diseases occur and how to treat them.
Your German Shepherd may be circling because of vestibular disease. Vestibular disease is a disorder that affects the balance and movement of the head and body. It is often caused by an infection or inflammation in the inner ear or brainstem. Symptoms can include dizziness, loss of coordination, falling to one side, circling behavior, and head tilt.
Treatment for this disorder typically involves supportive care such as rest, fluids, and medication to reduce nausea. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics or steroids if an infection is present.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that can cause circling behavior in German Shepherds. This disorder can be caused by a virus, bacterial infection, or other factors. Symptoms of encephalitis can include seizures, circling behavior, confusion, and loss of coordination.
Treatment for this disorder may involve supportive care such as fluids and rest. Your vet may also prescribe medications to reduce inflammation in the brain or antibiotics if an infection is present.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause circling behavior in German Shepherds. This disorder is often caused by a sudden drop in glucose levels. Symptoms may include weakness, confusion, seizures, and excessive licking or circling.
Treatment for this disorder typically involves providing your dog with food to increase its glucose levels. Your vet may also prescribe medications to stabilize your dog's blood sugar.
A bladder infection, or cystitis, can cause circling behavior in German Shepherds. This disorder is caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and bladder. Symptoms of a bladder infection include straining to urinate, increased thirst and urination, and circling behavior.
Treatment for this disorder typically involves antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Your vet may also recommend a special diet and medications to help reduce inflammation in your dog's bladder.
An ear infection, or otitis media, can cause circling behavior in German Shepherds. This disorder is often caused by bacteria or fungi entering the ears. Symptoms of an ear infection can include pain, itching, head shaking, and circling behavior.
Treatment for this disorder typically involves treating the underlying infection with antibiotics or anti-fungal medications. Your vet may also recommend using a special ear-cleaning solution to remove debris from your dog's ears.
Anemia, or a lack of red blood cells in the body, can cause circling behavior in German Shepherds. This disorder is often caused by an underlying medical condition, such as bleeding or parasites. Symptoms of anemia can include pale gums, weakness, and excessive licking or circling behavior.
Treatment for this disorder typically involves providing your dog with supplements to increase its red blood cell count. Your vet may also prescribe medications to treat the underlying medical condition causing the anemia.
7 things dog owners can do when your German Shepherd circles you
1. Visit your vet for a thorough check-up: Have your German Shepherd examined by a professional to rule out any underlying medical problems.
2. Provide mental stimulation: Make sure your German Shepherd gets plenty of exercise, playtime, and bonding time with you to help reduce stress and boredom.
3. Use positive reinforcement: Give your German Shepherd rewards when it follows commands and ignores the circling behavior.
4. Create a calm environment: Provide a quiet, comfortable space for your German Shepherd to rest in to help reduce anxiety or stress.
5. Address underlying medical issues: If you suspect an infection or other medical problem is causing the circling behavior, take your German Shepherd to the vet for an examination and treatment.
6. Provide plenty of food and water: Ensure your German Shepherd has access to fresh food and water throughout the day to help regulate glucose levels.
7. Monitor behavior changes: Pay close attention to any changes in your dog’s behavior so that you can identify potential triggers and address them early on.
In this video, Victoria Stilwell discovered why a dog named Rocky was constantly spinning in circles.
This video is a perfect example of why you should always take care of your dog and always provide him with enough mental and physical exercise.
Why do German Shepherds circle before they lay down?
German Shepherds may circle before lying down for various reasons. They may do so as a form of self-grooming, as it helps remove any dirt or debris from their fur that could make them uncomfortable when they lie down.
In some cases, they may also be using their circling behavior to create a comfortable surface to sleep on. Additionally, circling may signal anxiety or stress in your German Shepherd. If you notice your dog exhibiting this behavior more frequently, it’s important to pay attention to other changes in its behavior and address any underlying causes contributing to the issue.
Why do German Shepherds run in circles?
Your German Shepherd may be running in circles for a variety of reasons. It could be a form of self-grooming, as they may use the motion to remove dirt and debris from their fur before lying down. Additionally, your German Shepherd may circle to create a comfortable surface to rest on - this can also help them warm up before they settle in for a nap.
In some cases, circling behavior may also indicate anxiety or stress. If you notice your German Shepherd exhibiting this behavior more frequently, it’s important to pay attention to other changes in its behavior and address any underlying causes contributing to the issue.
German Shepherds are loyal, loving companions and can be a great addition to any family. However, paying attention to their behaviors is important to ensure they remain happy and healthy.
Some common behaviors, such as circling before lying down or running in circles, may signal anxiety or stress - if you notice these signs more frequently, promptly address any underlying causes contributing to the issue promptly.
In a situation like this, the most important skill that you can master is dog body language. If you understand a dog's body language, you can easily determine if your German Shepherd is circling because of happiness, stress, or health issue.
Frequently asked questions
Do you still have questions? Check our FAQ section, and you can find your answer here!
❓Why does my German Shepherd always want to be around me?
The breed is known for its loyalty, so your pup may just be trying to show their affection and devotion to you. Additionally, they could be seeking comfort and security in an unfamiliar setting or situation.
❓Why does my German Shepherd lick me all the time?
This could be a sign of affection but also indicate anxiety or stress. If your pup’s licking seems excessive or they are excessively licking themselves, you should consult your vet to rule out any underlying medical issues.
❓Why do german shepherds turn on their owners?
German Shepherds turning on their owners is very rare. If your pup does display aggressive behavior towards you or other people, it could be a sign of anxiety or fear-based aggression.
Contact your vet to ensure there are no medical issues contributing to the issue, and get professional help from an animal behaviorist if needed.
Suggestion: Can a German Shepherd attack its owner?
❓How do you know if a German Shepherd likes you?
A German Shepherd’s affection is usually quite obvious. Your pup will likely greet you enthusiastically when you come home, follow you around the house, and rest near you whenever possible.
You may also notice them displaying signs of contentment, such as wagging their tail and licking your face or hands.