If your Labrador has been pacing or walking in circles you might want to know why and what you can do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
So, why does my Labrador pace or walk in circles? Possible reasons are that it is anxious, someone mistreated it, you might have inadvertently rewarded the behavior or it might be due to a medical condition.
Your Labrador might be doing it for a number of reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can do about it and there are some things to consider when trying to figure out the cause more precisely.
Why your Labrador walks in circles
Below are some common causes and what would make them more likely to be the reason why your Labrador has been doing it.
It could be the case that it has been doing it because something has been causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it started doing it more after a stressful event such as an owner leaving or another pet dying.
It would also be more likely if it does it in certain situations such as when a certain person is around or when you are about to leave which would suggest separation anxiety.
It could be the case that your Labrador has been doing it compulsively which is where it feels an irresistible urge to do it and it can’t stop doing it. This would be more likely if your Labrador has been pacing or walking in circles excessively over the course of weeks or months. You can look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
You have inadvertently rewarded the behavior
A part of the reason could be that it has learned that it gets rewards when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it paces, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to learn to recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its behavior.
Someone has mistreated it
The cause could be that someone mistreated it.
This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter. If you did recently adopt it then it would be likely that it will begin to calm down as it gets comfortable. However, it would help to have a vet check on it and to give it lots of positive attention in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it.
It could also be the case that someone mistreated it recently which would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it tries to avoid a certain person.
It has a medical condition
There are some medical conditions that could be causing it such as dementia (source). This would be more likely if it started acting unusually in other ways as well such as by pulling to one side when on a leash.
If it does seem like your Labrador might have a medical condition then the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your Labrador has been pacing.
When it first started walking in circles or pacing
If your Labrador has not always paced or walked in circles, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
If it started walking in circles suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as being anxious, being mistreated or a medical condition.
If it has always walked in circles or paced it could be due to separation anxiety, getting rewarded when it does it or it could be an obsessive-compulsive behavior.
When it tends to walk in circles or pace
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your Labrador tends to do it.
If it tends to do it more when you are about to leave home it would make it more likely to be because it has separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when a certain person is around it could be that it feels uncomfortable around that person for some reason.
How to get your Labrador to stop walking in circles
Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to stop doing it.
Take it to a vet
If you are not able to figure out the cause, it has been behaving abnormally in other ways or it has been doing it excessively, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador and to hopefully rule out medical causes.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want and to try to recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus on to something else.
Take it for annual checkups
It is also important to take your Labrador for checkups at the vet at least annually. By doing so you will be able to identify and treat diseases before they become problematic.