Why Do Dogs Shake When They're Not Wet?

Dogs are expert shakers! As we well know, they shake water off themselves after a bath, but they also do it when they wake up and even after you hug them or groom them. Although it might seem puzzling, 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.

Dryness = Survival

Everyone knows that dogs are eager to get dry after a bath or a swim, but did you know that this is actually an important survival instinct? 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 ├ąget 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.

Too Much 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. For whatever reason, shaking helps dogs "recover" after some less than pleasant contact!

By Tammy Dray

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References

Georgia Tech: Wet Mammals Shake Dry in Milliseconds
Huffington Post: Dogs Shake Dry In Fraction of a Second, New Study Suggests
Modern Dog Magazine: Why Do Dogs Shake?
Washington University Medical School: Why Do Some Dogs Sometimes Shake Their Heads Vigorously After Waking Up?

About the Author
Tammy 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.