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What is a Shake Off

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Original post What Is A Dog “Shake Off”? by Fanna Easter on Dog Training Nation

The Meaning Behind the Dog “Shake Off”

Dogs communicate through body language every day, but unfortunately many people have a difficult time understanding them. If anyone should take the time to understand canine body language, it should be pet owners. Knowing what your dog wants or needs will keep everyone, including your dog, safe.

Every eye, ear, body or tail twitch means something—and looking at your dog’s entire body will give way to exactly what your dog is saying.

“Shake off” is a dog body movement that is easily seen and has a very clear meaning.

Let’s discuss exactly what a “shake off” looks like, what it means and why it’s a good thing.

What Does a Dog “Shake Off” Look Like?

It’s common to see a dog shake his entire body from nose to tail. It looks like the dog is shaking off water. Dogs will certainly shake their entire body to remove excess water after a swim or bath, but dogs also shake off when their coats are dry. When polling pet owners about shake offs, many are puzzled why their dogs do this behavior, especially when their coat is dry.

What Does It Mean?

When dry dogs “shake off,” they’re doing a few different things. First and foremost, they are shaking off stress. Humans do the same thing after scary or worrisome encounters; they take deep breaths while saying “phew.”

“Shake off” behavior is your dog’s response to dealing with stress. Instead of freaking out and lunging toward something scary, he shakes it off, which is a good thing. Usually, “shake offs” happen once a dog stops playing roughly with another dog, after meeting or seeing another dog, or during any human interaction.

Reward “Shake Offs”

Since dog “shake offs” are a positive way to deal with stress, they should be rewarded. When your dog shakes off, say “nice shake off.” Then, reward him with a treat, a game of “touch,” tug or something else your dog loves.

When dogs aren’t handling their stress well, they become rigid and freeze. If this happens, remove your dog from the situation and reward “shake offs.”

Now, you’ll think of something totally different when listening to Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off”


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