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When it comes to communication, dogs are significantly better at interpreting our body language than we are theirs. Humans rely on verbal language more heavily than body language, whereas dogs are just the opposite.

Unfortunately, this often means we are left scratching our heads, wondering what our dogs are trying to tell us. Shaking is one of these potentially confusing behaviors.

Efficient Blow-Dry

You may have wondered why dogs feel the need to shake when they are wet. That shaking, however, is surprisingly efficient. Wet dogs can shake off 70 percent of the water on their fur in just four seconds. That is far more effective than attempts to towel dry our pups — though not as great for our bathrooms.

Shake off the Stress

Dry dogs shake, too. If your dog gives a whole-body shake for no obvious reason, like a bath or a good roll in the dirt, it could be stress related.

Shaking is a classic symptom of stress in dogs. When your dog shakes after hopping off an examination table at the veterinarian’s office or following an encounter with a stranger, he is trying to relieve tension.

You may have even noticed that your dog shakes after a hug. As it turns out, most dogs don’t particularly enjoy hugs, and learning how to identify stress symptoms can help you make your dog more comfortable and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Shivering and Trembling

Shivering and trembling are also used interchangeably with shaking to describe upset pups. Certain toy and small terrier breeds shiver more than others. This kind of shivering can be a sign of anxiety, cold, fear, pain, or even muscle weakness. If your dog has started to shake, and you don’t know why, contact your veterinarian to make sure there isn’t a more serious issue.

Ear Problems

All dog breeds can get ear infections. Owners of breeds that are more prone to ear infections, however, such as Cocker SpanielsBasset Hounds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers, should watch out for excessive head shaking. If your dog had a recent bath or has been swimming and is shaking his head, it’s quite possible that he’s suffering from an ear infection. Owners should always dry their dogs’ ears thoroughly if they’ve been in water.

Dogs with irritated or infected ears often shake their heads to provide temporary relief. This shaking can lead to more problems, for example an ear hematoma (when blood accumulates in the flap of the ear). If your dog is shaking his head more than normal, call your veterinarian and gently take a peek at your canine companion’s ears to see if they appear red, inflamed, or dirty.