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Question
Posted by: Elli | 2011-08-24

Dog running in circles

Hi there. I''ve got a Jack Russel X Female, approx 9 years old that I adopted from Save a Pet 4 years ago. She has the habit of running in circles. In our previous townhouse with a small garden she ran a circle on the outside of the the grass, so that it looked like a foot path all around the lawn. We have just moved into a property with a bigger yard, but she still found a small enough square to run her circle in. The grass is already dying on that ''path''. When she''s inside the house she''ll start running in circles around the table or in the kitchen. How can I get her to stop. I take her for a walk every afternoon. She''s an only dog. She''s got toys, and she gets chewy stuff once in a while to keep her busy. I really need to get her to stop running in circles because my boyfriend is going to freak when he sees the damage to the grass. He usually comes home after dark, so he misses it, but he is going to notice it this weekend. How can I teach her to stop that?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Elli, its difficult to say why this is happening without more background information, but it really does sound as if this is severe stress related. It sounds as if it is happening both when you are home and out, so may not be seperation anxiety. What I would suggest is to take her to your vet for a check up and explain the situation and see if she can go on some medication such as Clomicalk (or similar, your vet will decide) for a period of time. This behaviour has been in place for a number of years and i do feel that you will need vet assistance in order to change it. He may also recommend the use of a Good Behaviour Pheromone Collar as well.

At the same time you need to get her out for an extra daily walk, even if just 15 minutes. Walking not only supplies the physical stimulation a dog needs as well as mental stimulation by way of all the different smells, but in humans it has been proven that it affects the seratonin levels (the happy hormone) which will further help her to destress. Do try and do a bit in the morning and a walk in the evening.

Also supply a lot of varied chew toys i.e. Kongs stuffed with food, rawhide chews with a little peanut butter put in the bottom and a piece of biltong squashed in etc. Chewing helps a dog to relax and it will give her something else to think about. Vary and mix up the chew toys so that there is variety - this also helps to make them last longer.

I would also put basic House Rules in place which would make her feel more secure i.e.
1. Ignore dog when arriving home completely. When she stops demanding attention and walks away, call her back, ask for a sit and then treat and praise.
2. Ignore all demanding behaviour i.e. pawing, putting objects on your lap, jumping on your lap without being invited, sitting on your foot, barking for attention etc. When she has given up and walked away, then call her back and give her the attention. Attention can be given but ONLY on your terms.
3. Put her on a 'work to earn' regime. In other words no more freebees. She is to sit for attention, sit for food, sit before a game etc.
All these serve in raising you up in the combined human/canine hierarchy and will make the dog feel more secure.

Where the running in circles is concerned you need to distract/call her the SECOND it begins. If you wait longer it will be hard to stop. Call her to you and play ball, give a chew toy, go for a walk etc.

If there is not a significient improvement I really would suggest you get in a professional behaviourist to assist. The behaviour she is exhibiting is extreme and needs to be attended too. Good luck, thanks Scotty

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Our users say:
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011-08-25

Hi Elli, its difficult to say why this is happening without more background information, but it really does sound as if this is severe stress related. It sounds as if it is happening both when you are home and out, so may not be seperation anxiety. What I would suggest is to take her to your vet for a check up and explain the situation and see if she can go on some medication such as Clomicalk (or similar, your vet will decide) for a period of time. This behaviour has been in place for a number of years and i do feel that you will need vet assistance in order to change it. He may also recommend the use of a Good Behaviour Pheromone Collar as well.

At the same time you need to get her out for an extra daily walk, even if just 15 minutes. Walking not only supplies the physical stimulation a dog needs as well as mental stimulation by way of all the different smells, but in humans it has been proven that it affects the seratonin levels (the happy hormone) which will further help her to destress. Do try and do a bit in the morning and a walk in the evening.

Also supply a lot of varied chew toys i.e. Kongs stuffed with food, rawhide chews with a little peanut butter put in the bottom and a piece of biltong squashed in etc. Chewing helps a dog to relax and it will give her something else to think about. Vary and mix up the chew toys so that there is variety - this also helps to make them last longer.

I would also put basic House Rules in place which would make her feel more secure i.e.
1. Ignore dog when arriving home completely. When she stops demanding attention and walks away, call her back, ask for a sit and then treat and praise.
2. Ignore all demanding behaviour i.e. pawing, putting objects on your lap, jumping on your lap without being invited, sitting on your foot, barking for attention etc. When she has given up and walked away, then call her back and give her the attention. Attention can be given but ONLY on your terms.
3. Put her on a 'work to earn' regime. In other words no more freebees. She is to sit for attention, sit for food, sit before a game etc.
All these serve in raising you up in the combined human/canine hierarchy and will make the dog feel more secure.

Where the running in circles is concerned you need to distract/call her the SECOND it begins. If you wait longer it will be hard to stop. Call her to you and play ball, give a chew toy, go for a walk etc.

If there is not a significient improvement I really would suggest you get in a professional behaviourist to assist. The behaviour she is exhibiting is extreme and needs to be attended too. Good luck, thanks Scotty

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