Why Do Dogs Shake Their Bodies?

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Canine behaviors are an open book -- as long as you know how to interpret the many signs. Although dogs aren't too mysterious, a lot of their actions have several meanings, which can sometimes be rather confusing. Shaking, for instance, can be a sign of both mental unease and numerous health ailments.

Cold or Dampness

Dogs frequently shake their bodies when they're wet -- a means of wringing out all of the annoying, uncomfortable dampness and getting dry again. They also often shake as a natural reaction to uncomfortably cold weather, just as a person might tremble while standing outside in the middle of a chilly February morning.

Emotional Shaking

Shaking isn't exclusive to wet or cold pooches. Shaking in dogs also can signify frustration, nervousness and unsettled feelings, whether because of a ride in the car or the presence of a strange guest dog in the household. Dogs sometimes even shake when they're extremely giddy or enthusiastic about something. If your dog is waiting on you to open his can and feed him, for example, you might notice the cutie's entire body trembling with pure, unadulterated joy -- aww. Shaking can also be a canine response to handling uncertainty. If a dog feels torn and distressed about something, he might shake his body as a way of turning the page -- and therefore "exiting" a decidedly unpleasant or troubling situation.

Health Issues

Shaking and trembling often can point to health problems in canines, and because of that, it is crucial to never ever brush them off. If your dog shakes excessively and you can't figure out why, an immediate trip to the veterinarian is in order. Some of the possible causes of canine shaking include generalized tremor syndrome and canine distemper. Shaking is also common in elderly canines, particularly due to tremors of the back limbs. For doggies, trembling generally isn't a hypothermia symptom.


If your dog doesn't seem to be sleeping peacefully, but instead is shaking his body conspicuously, he could be intensely wrapped up in whatever is going on in his current dream -- whether it involves something frightening or pleasant.