Show Details

Nesting Dogs

January 5, 2016

A listener asks why dogs sometimes turn around in circles before lying down.

Transcript

MangoBed4

Video: Many dogs circle before lying down, or even create more elaborate nests, like the producer’s dog Mango. (Susanne C. Bard)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Rotating canines. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Science Update listener Bob Stephenson wrote us with this Why Is It? question: “Why do dogs spin around in a circle before they lie down?” We consulted University of British Columbia psychologist Stanley Coren, who says the circling is likely an evolutionary holdout from when dogs – and their wolf ancestors – lived out in the wild.

STANLEY COREN (University of British Columbia):

Turning around was really of sort of trampling down the grass and making the area where the dog wanted to lie down a little bit smoother and more comfortable.

HIRSHON:

In support of the hypothesis, an unusual study showed that dogs will spin around more on shaggy carpets than smooth ones before lying down. And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. That’s 1-800-949-4748. Or write to us on our website at www.scienceupdate.com/contact-us/. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.