4 Unexpected Reasons Dogs Shake Off Their Bodies

Your furry friend is letting you know how they feel.

wet dog shaking off Tadeusz Lakota / Pexels

Dog owners know just how expressive their furry best friends can be. They whimper when they want something. They sneeze when they're excited. They wag those perfect tails when they're happy.

You may have noticed that your dog also goes through one very particular motion at different points in the day: Shaking off, almost like they're shuddering. Dogs shake off for a variety of reasons, some positive and some negative, all of which are methods of doggie self-care.


Here are 4 unexpected reasons dogs shake off their bodies.

1. They’re taking care of their fur.

If you’ve ever been around a dog that’s just finished a bath, you know what comes next: A full-body, head-to-tail shake-off. Dogs’ coats repel water, but if they’ve been completely submerged underwater, their fur can become waterlogged. 

4 Unexpected Reasons Dogs Shake Off Their BodiesPhoto: Gabe / Pexels


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A cold, wet dog can be at risk for hypothermia. Shaking their bodies is the most efficient way for dogs to dry off. According to a 2012 study published in The Journal of Royal Society, “By rapidly oscillating their bodies, through a process similar to shivering, furry mammals can dry themselves within seconds." 

Within one to four seconds of shaking off, dogs become 70% dry.  

Dogs sometimes shake when they’re already dry, which can be a way for them to get rid of dirt, grass, or anything else that’s accumulated in their fur. Shaking their bodies is one way that dogs groom themselves, making sure they look their very best.


2. They’re excited.

Maybe you’ve noticed that your furry friend shakes off when the two of you are reunited after some time spent apart. Dogs also shake off when they’re excited or happy. Sometimes, they shake off to show you they’re ready to play.



A great way to harness your pup’s excited energy is to play fetch, play chase, or just play in whatever way makes your dog happiest!

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3. They’re releasing stress. 

Shaking off can literally be a dog’s way to shake off stress, tension, or anxiety. It’s the canine version of taking deep breaths to relax. It works like an instant reset for them, something that helps them calm down right away.

A study called “The Dog Field Study” tracked various dogs’ pulse rates during walks. The study revealed that dogs shake off after they experience a significant spike in their pulse rates, which could be due to excitement or stress. 



After shaking off, the dogs’ pulse rates dropped, showing that shaking is their way of letting it all out. 


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4. They’re winding down or waking up.

After a big transition, like a super fun walk or a really sweet nap, you might catch your dog shaking off. Sometimes, they’ll shake off after a nice cuddle session. It’s their way of saying, “That was great, what’s next?”



There can also be medical reasons your dog is shaking off, including pain, low blood sugar, or canine distemper, which is a disease that can cause tremors in dogs. If your dog exhibits behavior outside of the range of their normal behavior when they shake off, it could mean they need some kind of evaluation from your vet.


Otherwise, shaking off is nothing at all to worry about! The shake-off is your dog’s way of expressing itself. It's one in a long list of habits they use to tell you, the world's most perfect pet parent, exactly what they're feeling. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.