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The Canine Quiver: Unravelling the Mystery Behind Why Dogs Shake

Dogs are fascinating creatures with a myriad of behaviours that can both amuse and perplex their human companions. One such behaviour that often captures our attention is the characteristic shake or shiver that dogs exhibit. Whether it's a full-body shake or a gentle tremor, this behaviour is not only endearing but also serves essential purposes in a dog's life.

Natural Instincts

Dogs are descendants of wolves, and many of their behaviours can be traced back to their wild ancestors. The shake is one such instinctual behaviour that has been retained over generations.

In the wild, wolves shake their bodies to remove excess water or to dislodge dirt and debris from their fur after a hunt. Domestic dogs may not be hunting for survival, but the instinct to shake remains deeply ingrained.

Drying Off

One of the most common reasons why dogs shake is to dry off.

After a swim or a bath, dogs shake vigorously to rid their fur of excess water. This behaviour is an efficient way for them to maintain their insulation and prevent discomfort caused by wet fur. In this context, shaking serves a practical purpose, ensuring that a dog's coat stays in optimal condition.


Dogs are masters of non-verbal communication, and their body language is a key component of this skill.

A good shake can be a form of communication, signalling various emotions and intentions. For example, after a stressful situation or an exciting encounter, a dog might shake to release tension or express excitement. Understanding the context and accompanying body language can provide insights into a dog's emotional state.

Stretching and Relaxation

Shaking is not always a response to external stimuli.

Dogs may also shake as part of a stretching routine or to relax their muscles. This behaviour is akin to a human stretching or yawning to release tension and promote physical well-being. Observing a dog's overall body language can help distinguish between a shake prompted by external factors and one that is a part of a self-soothing routine.

Insect Repellent

Another interesting aspect of why dogs shake is related to their innate ability to ward off pests.

Dogs, particularly those with longer fur, might shake to dislodge irritating insects like fleas and ticks. This is a form of self-grooming that helps them stay comfortable and free from unwanted hitchhikers.

Clinical sign

Dogs can also shake when they feel under the weather. Just like in humans, it is not uncommon for dogs with fever to shake.

The shake can also be a more subtle way of our pet to tell us he is uncomfortable or in pain.

If you suspect your dog is unwell, please contact your vet.

The reasons why dogs shake are diverse and multifaceted.

From instinctual behaviours inherited from their wild ancestors to practical functions like drying off and pest control, shaking is a versatile and purposeful action for our canine companions.

Understanding the motivations behind this behaviour not only deepens our connection with our furry friends but also allows us to better meet their needs and ensure their well-being. So, next time you witness your dog doing the shake, remember that it's more than just a cute quirk—it's a fascinating glimpse into the rich tapestry of canine behaviour.

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