If your German Shepherd has been spinning around a lot, this post will show you why it might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd spin around? Possible reasons are that it is anxious, has obsessive-compulsive disorder, you have inadvertently rewarded it, someone has mistreated it, it has a medical condition or that it just does it to be comfortable when laying down.
There are a number of nuances that you can consider when trying to figure out why your GSD does it. Once you have a good idea of the cause it will become easier for you to get it to stop.
Why your German Shepherd spins around
There will, likely, be some clues that come with each of the different reasons that your GSD does it. Below, I will mention a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely.
The cause of your German Shepherd spinning around a lot could be that it is anxious. It could be anxious due to things such as having separation anxiety, someone mistreating it or recently having moved homes.
This would be more likely if it suddenly started spinning around a lot after an event occurred that might cause it to become anxious such as someone mistreating it.
If it does seem like your German Shepherd is anxious then I have written more about why it might be the case here.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is doing it compulsively. This is where your German Shepherd has an irresistible urge to repeat the behavior. This would be more likely to be the case if your German Shepherd has been spinning in circles repeatedly over the course of weeks or months.
It would also be more likely if it started doing it excessively when something happened that would cause it to develop behavioral issues.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
You have inadvertently rewarded the behavior
It might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to do it. If you tend to give it things that it likes when it does it such as attention, toys or treats then it will learn that spinning around will get it things that it wants so it does it more.
Instead of rewarding it when it does it, try to reward it when it is well behaved and to avoid giving it attention when it starts spinning around and to follow the steps below.
Someone has mistreated it
It might be the case that it has been doing it because someone mistreated it. This would be more likely if you know that someone mistreated it at around the same time that it started doing it. However, it could also be the case that someone mistreated it without you knowing or that previous owners mistreated it. This would be more likely if your GSD is adopted.
If it does seem like it might be due to mistreatment then it would help to keep it away from anyone that might mistreat it and to give it lots of positive attention in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it.
It has a medical condition
It might be the case that there is a medical condition that is causing it. This would be more likely if your GSD started doing it suddenly and if it has been acting unusually in other ways such as by pulling to the side when on walks.
If it does seem like something might be wrong medically then the best option would be to take it to a vet.
It wants to be comfortable
If your GSD only does it in certain situations then it could be the case that it is doing it for a specific reason.
For example, if it tends to spin around more when it is about to lay down then it would be likely that it is doing it to be comfortable. This would be normal behavior in a dog and not something to be overly concerned with.
It was just being playful
If your GSD only did it on one occasion then it could be the case that it was just doing it to be playful. This would be more likely if it did it when it was excited or when you were playing with it.
Things to consider
There are many things to consider that could help you in figuring out why your GSD does it. Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider.
When it started doing it
It would help to consider when your GSD first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that triggered it to start doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly then it would be more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated, developing a medical condition or because you inadvertently rewarded it.
Whereas, if it has always done it then it could be due to things such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, separation anxiety or you might have inadvertently trained it to do it when it was young.
When it does it more
It would also help to consider if there is a time that it tends to spin around more.
For example, if you notice that it tends to spin around more when a certain person is around then it would be more likely that it is due to being anxious. Whereas, if it does it more when it is about to lay down then it would be likely that it is just doing it to be comfortable.
How much it has done it
It would also help to consider how often it has been spinning around.
If it has been doing it constantly then it would be more likely to be due to things such as obsessive-compulsive behavior. Whereas, if it has only done it a few times then it would be more likely to be due to things such as over excitement.
What to do about your German Shepherd chasing its tail
Below are a number of options that you have when getting your GSD to stop doing it. The best option for your GSD will depend on the cause of why it is doing it.
Take it to a vet
If you are unsure of why your GSD is spinning around in circles, it has started doing it suddenly or it has been showing signs of being ill or injured then it would be the best option to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to rule out a medical condition and get expert advice tailored towards your GSD.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been inadvertently training it to do it. Instead of giving it things that it wants when it does it, try to reward it when it is well behaved and to avoid giving it attention when it spins unless it is necessary.
Take measures to reduce its anxiety
Since anxiety could be the cause it would help to take measures to reduce how anxious it is. You can do this by training it to be more comfortable without you, removing things that might be making it anxious and by giving it positive attention in the form of exercise, training and play.
I have written more about what you can do about your GSD’s anxiety here.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you are unable to get your GSD to stop spinning or it seems to be doing it compulsively then it would help to get the advice of a dog behaviorist in your area. A dog behaviorist should be able to show you exactly what to do with your particular GSD.
If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd Handbook