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Canine Behavior/Poodle going in circles


I have an approximately 4 years old male toy poodle (rescue) when we sit down to eat he is at our feet going in circles until he is out of breath. I do not reward this behavior. He does not eat from the table. When I am cooking he throws himself on my legs. He knows there is food on the counters I am preparing. He is otherwise very well behaved and learns quickly. He sits before his meal is put down for him. He Gets in his own bed at night. He potty trained rather quickly. I can't get him to stop
the circle thing though.

Circling indicates a loss of cognition due to an internal drive (in this case, related to food it appears).  It is in some part a conditioned response: not rewarding does not mean you don't pay attention.  Paying even the slightest attention (i.e., saying "Don't do that Rover") is a reward.

I suggest you try this for the next week or so and report back using followup feature.  Purchase a very lightweight leash (cat leash is best) and put it on the dog the moment he begins circling.  Keep him at your side and basically ignore him.  Leash restraint is not just physical, it is also psychological.  This may calm him (counter condition him).  Let's see what happens before we go on to more elaborate measures.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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