Why Do Dogs Shake Themselves?

by Sarah Dray
Shaking away the cleanliness.

Shaking away the cleanliness.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Ever wondered what all that shaking your dog does means? Dogs shake themselves after a bath, when they wake up and even after you hug them or groom them. Although it might seem confusing, all that shaking does serve a purpose. Next time you see Doggie shaking away, think about his wild ancestors, and that might give you a clue about his behavior.

To Dry Themselves

The shaking that takes place right after a bath is not meant to annoy you or to have fun -- it's actually a survival tool. According to researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, staying wet in the wild could be dangerous or even deadly. A soaking wet coat, especially in long-haired dogs, can weigh heavily on the dog, which can make it difficult for him to run and escape from predators. In winter, a wet dog can lose a ton of calories just by sitting there waiting to get dry. Shaking, on the other hand, can get a dog up to 70 percent dry in just a matter of seconds.

To Shake Off an Emotion

Many dogs shake themselves after an emotional moment, whether a good or bad one. For example, they might shake after having an almost-fight with another dog or almost a long, intense hug from you. Don't worry -- he's not trying to tell you he didn't like the hug. According to an article in Modern Dog Magazine, shaking after something intense is just a way of "walking it off" so he can go back to his normal, not-so-intense daily routine.

To Shake Off Imaginary Bugs

This is another example of a bit of the wild remaining in your doggie. Wild dogs slept on the ground, where bugs, fleas and other animals might have crawled on them. Not to mention the dirt and debris that might have fallen on them as they were sleeping. So, wild dogs would shake to release all that from their fur upon waking up, according to experts from Washington University Medical School. Sure, Doggie might be sleeping in a comfy dog bed, or even on your bed, but that wild instinct to shake off bugs still remains.

To Recover After Lots of Invasive Touching

Did you just clean Doggie's ear using some ear cleaning solution and a giant cotton swab? Chances are he'll go into shaking mode as soon as you're done. The same will happen after a long session of grooming or brushing, which you might appreciate but Doggie not so much. In general, any extensive touching, cleaning, pulling or tugging from you will result in some vigorous shaking after you're done.

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About the Author

Sarah Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including "Woman's Day," "Marie Claire," "Adirondack Life" and "Self." She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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