Why Does My German Shepherd Spin Around? (5 Reasons)

  • By: Justin
  • Date: November 5, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Do you have a German Shepherd who seems to spend excessive time spinning around? 

If so, you’re not alone. Many owners of this breed are curious about why their DGS does this. 

So why does your German Shepherd spin around in circles?

German Shepherds are genetically predisposed to spin around in circles. However, there are a few possible explanations for this behavior like: neurological problems, anxiety, or excitement, among other things. 

Read on for a complete breakdown of why your German Shepherd might be spinning around in circles.

Why Does My German Shepherd Spin Around

Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Spins Around

Here are 9 potential reasons why your GSD spins around:

1. Genetic predisposition

GSD and Bull Terriers are the only two breeds of dogs known to be genetically predisposed to spinning. 

So if your GSD is spinning in circles, and doesn’t show any symptoms of discomfort or pain. it’s most likely due to genetics and not anything else.

2. Anxiety

If your German Shepherd mainly spins around when left alone or in new environments. It could be feeling anxious.

If you think your GSD is spinning due to anxiety, talk to your vet about possible solutions, such as anti-anxiety medication or behavior modification training.

3. Excitement

Suppose your GSD is wiggling its tail and spinning around whenever it sees you or someone it loves. Your German Shepherd may be spinning out of excitement.

It’s not unlikely to see Your GSD also spinning around in circles after being rewarded with a treat or toy.

If excitement is the cause of your dog’s spinning, there’s no need to be concerned. Because it just means it is happy. However, too much excitement could lead to anxiety.

4. Abuse of past trauma

Research has shown that any abused dog tends to act afraid and finds difficulty trusting anyone. So it is not unlikely to see an abused GSD just spinning in circles around you.

For example: Say you come home, and GDS wants to greet you but instead circles you; this could be a sign of abuse or trauma.

Suppose your GSD is showing signs of fear while being petted or touched. In this case, it is best to seek professional help so your dog can learn to trust people again.

5. Neurological conditions

There could also be a neurological reason for your dog’s spinning. 

Suppose your GSD is older and suddenly starts to spin. In that case, it could be a sign of canine cognitive dysfunction, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

If you think your dog might have a neurological condition, take him to the vet for an evaluation.

6. Canine Dementia

Senior German Shepherds may start to spin due to canine dementia. This cognitive disorder can occur in older dogs.

If your GSD is showing signs of dementia, such as:

  • Spinning around.
  • Looking disoriented.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Loss of interest in activities he used to enjoy. 

Its recommended that you take him to the vet for an evaluation.

7. Problems in the hindquarters or tail area

There could also be a physical reason for your dog’s spinning. If your GSD has problems with his hindquarters or the tail area, such as pain or an injury, he may start to spin to relieve the discomfort.

It could also be due to worms or impacted anal glands making him uncomfortable, so he spins around to try to get rid of the discomfort.

8. Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Your GSD could be spinning because of an obsessive disorder. Boredom, stress, or anxiety are a type of compulsive behavior.

If you think your dog’s spinning is due to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Talk to your vet about possible treatment options, such as behavior modification training or medication.

9. They are just being playful

Sometimes, dogs will spin around just for the fun of it.

If your GSD is spinning and seems to be enjoying himself, there’s no need to be concerned. 

Just make sure that he has plenty of toys and playtime to burn off all that energy.

What Is It Called When A Dog Spins In Circles?

Frenetic Random Activity Periods or Zoomies (FRAPs). FRAPs refer to those occasional and unmistakable explosions of high-energy dogs experience. 

FRAPs often feature repetitive and frantic behavior such as:

  • Running in circles 
  • Leaping and bounding
  • Running back and forth along a straight line

Dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes can be prone to the occasional FRAP.

However, it seems most commonly exhibited by puppies and young dogs.

FRAPs typically happen when a dog is feeling good – happy, healthy, and full of energy. 

And while a FRAP can be rather amusing to watch (especially if you’re not the one having to chase after your dog), they serve an essential purpose for dogs.

Many pet parents report their dog running in circles at high speeds, often accompanied by frantic barks or yips. 

While the behavior might appear erratic, it is pretty standard for dogs.

Think of it as your dog’s version of a human coffee break or power nap – a brief burst of energy to help them re-energize.

check out this related article: Can a German Shepherd Go On A Plane?

How Do You Get Your German Shepherd To Stop Spinning In Circles?

Five ways to stop your German Shepherd from spinning in circles:

1. Please bring them to the vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions. 

As I mentioned earlier, spinning around can indicate an underlying medical condition.

If you’re concerned that your dog’s spinning might be due to a health issue, take them to the vet for an evaluation.

2. Provide plenty of exercises and mental stimulation

If your GSD is spinning because he’s bored or has too much energy, make sure to provide him with plenty of activities and mental stimulation. 

Take him on long walks, runs, or hikes, and make sure he has plenty of toys to keep him occupied.

3. Provide entertainment and comfort

You want to ensure your GSD has plenty of things to keep him entertained and comfortable.

Things like:

  • Chew toys
  • Kongs stuffed with treats 
  • Comfy beds or blankets

4. Minimize periods of confinement

The amount of time your GSD spends in his crate or confined to a small space can also contribute to spinning. 

If possible, try to minimize the amount of time he spends in these areas.

5. Talk to your vet about behavior modification training or medication

Talk to your vet about behavior modification training or medication if your GSD’s spinning is due to a compulsive disorder. These can help to reduce or eliminate the behavior.

Health Reasons Your German Shepherd Might Be Circling

Here are five health-related reasons your GSD might be circling:

1. Inner ear infection

An inner ear infection is a common cause of vertigo in humans and can also affect dogs. If your dog is suddenly dizzy or unsteady on his feet, he could have an inner ear infection. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Head shaking 
  • Pawing at the ear
  • Loss of balance
  • Discharge in the ear

2. Vestibular disease

Vestibular disease is responsible for maintaining balance. And is a condition that affects the vestibular system.

Dogs with vestibular disease often circle to one side and may tilt their heads or fall over. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Loss of appetite

3. Neurological disorders

Several neurological disorders can cause dogs to circle. 

For example:

  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain)
  • Head trauma

Suppose your dog is circling and has any other neurological disorder symptoms. In that case, you should see a vet as soon as possible.

4. Cognitive dysfunction

Cognitive dysfunction is a condition that affects the brain. And can cause several symptoms in dogs, including spinning around in circles. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Disorientation
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in behavior

5. Health issues at the hindquarters

Things like impacted anal glands, arthritis, and hip dysplasia can cause a dog to spin in circles. 

If your dog is spinning in circles and has other symptoms like:

  • Stiffness
  • Lameness
  • Pain

Talk to your dog’s vet for possible treatment.

If your wondering why does German a Shepherd Lays Down to Eat? Then check out this post.

Why Is My German Shepherd Pacing Back And Forth?

Seeing your GSD pacing back and forth could make you uncomfortable or concerned.

So, here are some reasons why this could be happening:

Your GSD could be having a FRAPs episode (Frenetic Random Activity Periods) 

FRAPs are periods of high-energy activity caused by excitement, fear, or stress. 

However, suppose he’s pacing and in pain or discomfort. In that case, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition, and you should take him to the vet for an evaluation.

Why Does My DGS Walk In Circles Before Peeing?

A GSD spinning in Circles before peeing is a way of readying their digestive and urinary systems for elimination.

It also allows them to check their surroundings for potential threats. So if your GSD is circling before he pees, there’s no need to be concerned.

Also Read: Why does a german shepherd put his paw on me?

Why Does My DGS Walks In Circles Before Laying Down?

In prehistoric times, dogs in the wild had to make their bedding. They would walk in circles to trample down the grass or leaves, creating a soft spot to lay down. 

While your GSD doesn’t need to worry about making its bed, the behavior is still instinctual.

So if you see your GSD walking in circles before it lies down, there’s no need to be concerned. It’s just something instincts are telling it to do.

Final Thoughts- Why Does My German Shepherd Walk Around In Circles?

There are many reasons why your GSD might be walking in circles. If doing it for no apparent reason, there’s probably no cause for concern. 

However, suppose he’s circling and showing other signs of discomfort or illness. In that case, it’s best to take him to the vet for an evaluation.

In most cases, though, your GSD is just following its instincts. So there’s no need to worry if you see it walking in circles from time to time. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why your German shepherd does this behavior.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help.

Justin- Writer & Chief Editor of Bestwatchdogs.com


Justin is a protection dog enthusiast. He has years of experience teaching and training dogs. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned. Read More

Why Does My German Shepherd Yawn So Much?

Previous Post

Why Does My German Shepherd Yawn So Much? (7 Reasons)

Next Post

Can A German Shepherd Go On A Plane? (Policies & Prices)

Can a German Shepherd Go On A Plane