Have you ever wondered what some of your pup’s behavior means? You may have been perplexed, curious, or even amused by some of the behaviors your dog exhibits. As humans, we must remember that dogs do not communicate through speech, and rely on communicating through body language, not only with their humans but with other dogs. Most of a dog’s behavior serves a deeper purpose than what we might initially think. Like what does it mean when a dog shakes when they are not wet? What about that humorous leg scratching they exhibit after pooping or even quivering for no apparent reason?
In this post, we will take a deeper look into three seemingly strange dog behaviors.
Shaking off when not wet
What does it look like? Shaking off is the movement a dog makes when they shake their entire body from nose to tail.
You’ll most likely recognize it after your pup gets a bath. It makes sense that a dog will shake off their coat after a bath because it serves an obvious purpose: shaking off excess water.
But a dog will also perform this motion while the coat is completely dry. There are a few reasons why a dog may shake off when not wet: after a nap, in a time of stress, after exercise, or after a social interaction. When a dog shakes after waking, it helps wake them up and to stretch their muscles. It is like when humans stretch. In times of stress, a dog may shake off to relieve it. It is their physical equivalent to our “phew,” or taking in a deep breath. A dog may shake off after energetic exercise, shaking off the rush of adrenaline and calming down. Finally, social interaction may also prompt a shake-off. A dog may become stressed, uncomfortable, or cautious in a social interaction, and shaking off is a way of removing tension in the muscles.
It is important to pay attention to context to decipher what the shaking off means for a specific situation.
What does it look like? Movement of a dog’s hind legs in a scratching or pawing motion on the ground.
Ground scratching or ground scraping is the action taken after a dog eliminates. This might look funny, but this behavior actually has a valuable canine purpose: dispersing scent and giving off a visual cue. This behavior is considered to be a marking mechanism. Dogs have scent glands in their paws and when they scratch the ground they leave that scent behind, essentially covering up the scent of their urine or feces and marking that spot. It can also be a visual cue to other dogs and even an expression of feeling good after they finish the deed.
What does it look like? It is a movement in the body that is characterized as shaking, quivering, or trembling such as one might see when they are cold.
Have you ever seen a dog shake, quiver, or tremble? Have you assumed that they were terrified or cold? Well, you would be partially right. There are several reasons why a dog will shiver including being cold, excited, stressed, scared, or in pain.
Quivering caused by being cold or excited is normal. Keep your pup out of frigid temperatures if they are cold. But when your dog is stressed or in fear, it is best to try to comfort your dog and if possible, remove the stressor.
You’ll need to observe your dog and the situation in order to determine if your dog is sick or in pain. Look for other signs of illness if you suspect your dog is in pain and consult your veterinarian.
The next time you see your dog exhibiting strange or even familiar behaviors, remember that a dog’s behavior is communication in their canine world. Dogs rely on body language to communicate to both other canines and humans alike and their behavior serves a valuable purpose. Keep reading New Life K9s blogs every week to learn more about dogs and their behavior!
Help save lives and donate to our cause!
New Life K9s places service dogs with veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to the veterans and first responders.
- Easter, Fanna. “Why Does My Dog Shake When Not Wet Archives.” Dog Training Nation, 13 Nov. 2017
- Blume Share, Jillian, et al. “Why Do Dogs Do Those Random Shake-Offs?” This Dogs Life, 12 January 2020
- The Farmer's Dog, et al. “Why Does My Dog Scratch the Ground?” The Farmer's Dog, 28 Feb. 2021
- “Why Is My Dog Shaking? 6 Common Causes for the Shivers.” Hill's Pet Nutrition,