Warning sign for Pug spinning

Do you know why your Pug spins?

Haylo Puggies,

In my opinion, the Pug spin is one of their most endearing qualities. It definitely made me feel like the most loved person in the world when Winston and Charles would greet me at the door with their uniquely choreographed Pug spinning ballet. Unfortunately, in reality their dinner bowls also got the same performance, possibly on a more regular schedule than my own overture, but I will continue to stick to the delusion of my being the greater love regardless.
Luckily for me, all of my Pug’s have spoilt me rotten over the years with their affectionate performances, but did you know there are occasions when spinning is their way of telling us something, or that it is something that their ancestors have been doing for centuries?

 Interestingly, I have seen the wording 'circling' associated with behaviours that others use 'spinning' for. In my mind, circling is different to spinning but there is no real consensus on what is spinning versus circling behaviour so I’m including circling for completeness; notwithstanding the fact that Charles displays some of the circling behaviour himself but my other boys, Louis and Winston, did not. 

Circling prior to going to the toilet is something that has lasted the ages with all dog’s ancestors circling the area prior to “going to the loo” to ensure they couldn’t see or smell a predator; I think we can all agree that we are kinda vulnerable at that point and no-one likes to be disturbed!
Another theory in regard to the toilet circling is that the Pug uses it as a way of letting the system know its show-time; for Charles this has always been the more likely explanation for his circling. We know as soon as we see him stop, sniff and then circle a few times that it’s time to get the bag out ready. Yes, there have been times when he’s done the “poopy dance” as we like to call it and as soon as he sees the bag out ready to go he walks off like “not really feeling it right now mum and I might go check that spot out instead” …. Yes, I too have suffered from Pug-manipulation on more than one occasion.
The other circling habit for Charles is when he’s had enough of the day and is going to bed; it’s his equivalent to the “do not disturb” sign at the hotel. His brother Winston knew that if Charles got to the bean bag first that all bets were off, and the beans will have been properly positioned for maximum Charles comfort. This situation has resulted in Pug stand-offs over the years, including one of them storming off to the bean bag in my office to sleep alone in silent Pug protest.
Similar to the toilet circling, bed circling and re-positioning has been passed down the generations as the dog’s way of creating the pawfect dirt and undergrowth bed; it was also used to keep cool on hot days as well as make themselves less conspicuous to predators whilst they took a nap. I don’t about you, but I have been on the end of “the look” when I’ve woken one of my boys when they have not wanted to be woken and I am surprised I am still walking let alone alive!


 Worryingly, Pug spinning can also mean that something is not right; either environmentally or medically. A dog will circle/spin if they are feeling anxious or threatened and noting that Pugs are naturally an intuitive breed, I think you’ll pick up quickly if their spinning is not typical for them or if the environment is what is causing them to behave differently. The obvious immediate action is to remove them from the environment causing the anxiety, but if it continues you may need to visit your Vet who may prescribe medication. 
Unfortunately, in Senior Pugs erratic spinning or circling may be a sign of something more serious, such as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) also known as doggie dementia or canine compulsion which is the dog version of OCD in humans.
Early signs of CCD (other than the circling or spinning) is the loss of balance as well as confusion or ‘spacing out’ for long periods of time which can cause your Pug a lot of distress when they come out of it. Similarly, common signs of canine compulsion (other than the circling or spinning) include excessive chewing, toy sucking and excessive licking as a way to deal with the stressor that is driving them to do the action. If unsure, keep any eye on your Pug, take notice of the environment and events surrounding the action so that you can advise your Vet on what you believe has influenced the behaviour so they can make an assessment on the best course of action.  
Thankfully, nine times out of ten you’re more than likely receiving your own Pug ballet and it is as wonderful as the performance I receive when I come home … or walk out of the kitchen with dinner! But if unsure, err on the side of caution and contact your Vet with your concerns; it can’t hurt!
Do you have a Pug that spins when you come home, serve dinner or just ‘cause you called their name? We’d love to snuffle with you about it, so please add a comment below and share with us stories of your Pug’s performances.
Until next time Puggies, have a wonderful week and look forward to snuffling with you soon.
From Donna and Charles

Founder of Pug Parties and Pug Supermodel
P.S. if you have a Pug that loves to spin and dig at their bed to get it just right, you might like to get them a bean bag; it's the pawfect bed for burrowing down in once the beans have been positioned just right.

Pop over and have a look at our bean bags, we have multiple colours and with the inner bean holder you can pop the outer bag in the wash to keep it smelling pawfect https://pugparties.com.au/collections/bean-bags

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Other articles in the Pug Life series:
What is your Puggies super-power? https://pugparties.com.au/blogs/grumble-news/Pugtastic-the-one-thing-that-makes-your-pug-fantastic
Websites/articles referenced or researched for this blog post:

Gif source: 157ofgemma via Giphy

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Our 10 month old pug Dexter spins like a top and barks at the sight and smell of cheese, at the title music of Parks & Recreation and when he interacts with the neighbour’s dogs over the fence.

Paul B.

My puggy actually keeps circling through the greetings pats she gets, in a kind of twirling ecstasy 😃

Rachael Drake

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