Dogs Shaking Behavior: Different Reasons

written by: Chris_A

Dogs have many kinds of behaviors, some well known, others not so much. A very good question that is asked often is, why do dogs shake? The answer might be many fold.

Dogs evolved from domesticated wolves. And wolves were and are wild animals, living in a very dangerous environment. Survival for them is top priority. If you see a dog shake frantically after getting wet, it is because of the fact that he is wet. Being wet in the wilds is very dangerous.

A very wet coat, can increase the dogs weight many times, making it harder to run and escape enemies or hunt prey. If it is cold outside, getting dry can be a real problem and the dog could loose of lot of internal body heat. Thus, shaking can get a dog almost completely dry in a few seconds. A trait domesticated dogs probably inherited from their wolf ancestors.

Another reason dogs shake themselves is to literally shake off emotions. Dogs shake after getting into a fight with another dog, being yelled at, or if you hug and pet them. It is their way to deal with intense emotional moments and a way to cope with them and get back to their normal non emotional routine. Dogs, like humans, are very emotional beings.

Dogs shake to shake of imaginary objects from their coat. This trait is also a remnant of the wild wolf ancestor to modern dogs. In the wild, wolves would normally sleep on the ground, full of dirt, dried leaves, pebbles but also insects and parasites, like bugs and fleas and other animals.

The instinct remains, and after they wake up, dogs shake to get rid of all of these imaginary things. Even if your dog has a cozy dog house or a clean shelter, where he usually sleeps, he still does this.

If you clean or brush your dog much, you might notice that he would shake wildly after. This is also very normal. Dogs do not really enjoy excessive touching or petting or a lot of tugs.

The idea here, is that the skin of dogs is very loose. Much more loose then human skin. This is an advantage for getting dry, because the skin of a dog moves much faster then its backbone, and when dogs shake, they can get very dry very fast because of the free moving loose skin. If you excessively touch and groom your dog, the skin gets into uncomfortable positions around the dogs body, thus, by shaking, the dog just simply puts his skin back to normal.

Of course there are many other reasons as well. A dog could have a skin irritation, or an object stuck to his coat, that he wants to get rid off. He could also just ask for a loving massage.

It is very interesting, though, that among many other behaviors, shaking directly reminds us that dogs were once wild animals, and much of those wild, ancient animal instincts still remain in them.

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