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Canine Body Language: When Taylor Swift Sang "Shake It Off", It Applied To Our Dogs, too!

In the words of Taylor Swift, sometimes you've just got to Shake It Off.

Interestingly enough, did you know that this goes for our dogs, too?

While many of us associate a dog's shake to a wet day at the lake, dry shakes can be points of communication that our dogs give us through body language.

Dry Shakes Can Be Signifiers Of...

Stress & Anxiety

Believe it or not, the act of a dry shake can signify stress and anxiety in our canine companions. You may see your dog dry shake after you leave the vet's office, after the mailman leaves the porch, or after an unknown dog goes out of view.

This Dry Shake or "Flappy Reset" (which I like to affectionately call it) is essentially our dog shaking off the stress from a situation. This type of shake-off is sometimes called an adrenalin flush, since adrenaline is typically the first hormone to be released when a dog experiences stress. Think of this scenario as the dog version of taking a deep breath and moving on from something bothersome.


Dry shakes can also be seen after high energy situations, such as after a play session with other dogs, chasing a squirrel, or even an intense game of fetch. This shake-off works to release the excitement and tension in your dog's muscles.

However, this isn't tied strictly to physical arousal like chasing or playing. These Flappy Resets can also happen after mental excitement, such as catching an unusual scent while on a vigorous sniff session.

Medical Reasons

In some cases, dry shakes can signify that something medical is going on (i.e. ear infections). In these scenarios, your dog will try to shake-off the sense of pain or discomfort. If your dog is shaking regularly with no context (specifically their head), contact a veterinary professional just to make sure that your pooch is feeling themselves.

After Waking Up

While a morning shake is thought to be largely instinctual, Dogs Deciphered also points out that dogs shake when they wake up to "stimulate their body and get ready for the day". A good shake-off gets them up and ready, and gets their blood flowing. Think of this as their first sip of coffee in the morning after a restful nights sleep.

Now that you know a little bit more about Shaking It Off, take a look at your dog's body language in certain scenarios and see if you can catch their resets. Whatever the reason for it, praise that shake! These resets help our dogs move forward from certain scenarios, and promote the action of "moving on".

Sources & Further Readings


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