Shake dog shake
September 25, 2006 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Why do dogs shake out?

My dog shakes out in many situations. Obviously, he shakes out when he gets wet and wants to dry off. He also shakes out when he wakes up from sleep, recovers from a small fall, and recovers from rough play. What purpose does shaking out have in the latter situations? I should note that he is a short-hair, so rearranging his hair style is probably not the answer.

I vaguely recall reading in the past that if a dog doesn't shake out when he wakes up, it is a sign of ill health. Is that true? If so, why?
posted by crazycanuck to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I suppose when a dog falls or plays rough, it instinctually shakes out in case it picked up anything accidentally. Bugs, leaves, etc. Same thing with waking up. Who knows what creepy crawlies may have made themselves at home while Fido was napping?
posted by brundlefly at 7:03 PM on September 25, 2006

A dog's skin is more loosely attached to the underlying tissue than is that of a human. I suspect that shaking out ensures that it all gets distributed evenly again.
posted by RMALCOLM at 7:08 PM on September 25, 2006

Not to get all non-sciencey or anything, but I always assumed they did it because it felt good. When not involving getting dry, it always seems to go in conjunction with a stretch.

Many times I've watched my dogs shake and thought: 'crap, I wish I could do that.'

Kinda like watching a cat yawn. It makes you wish your jaw could do that, because you know it feels good.
posted by quin at 7:31 PM on September 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

Echoing quin's post, it's a dog's way to give itself an all-over body massage.
posted by JJ86 at 6:03 AM on September 26, 2006

My one dog only shakes after baths and when it wakes up. He is older, quieter and more docile than our other dog. The other (more dominate one) will shake after rough play and also when she isn't getting the attention she thinks she deserves—in addition to after baths and when she wakes up (shaking out the cobwebs I call it). If she wants me to play with her and I ignore her, she will try and stand up on her back legs to get my attention and then often times shakes in my direction and make a little huffing noise. The bitch.
posted by terrapin at 7:37 AM on September 26, 2006

I've often thought this was akin to any number of behaviors that we humans have that basically mean: "ahh... now on to the next thing." Like snapping fingers or clapping hands, or looking around pointlessly.

I have parrots as pets, and have played with many other birds, and while there are species-specific behaviors that mean various things, they all seem to have a "tail shake" behavior that essentially means "now on to the next thing." Maybe "that last thing was nice" or "this next thing looks good" but always signifying a transition between one activity and the next.
posted by dammitjim at 12:12 PM on September 26, 2006

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