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Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16504
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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My dog keeps shaking his body and is not stopping it. Why?

Customer Question

My dog keeps shivering/shaking since yesterday! He hides in the garage, behind items, and in the bathroom! I dont know what to do! Please help me. I try to comfort him by holding him but he wont stop! Please.

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 8 years ago.


Dogs shiver for a variety of reasons.

First and the most obvious to most people is the fact that they are indeed cold. Shivering contracts the muscles to stimulate heat. Since you have already addressed this issue--lets explore other possibilities. The next two are medical and behavior issues:

Medically based:

Trembling and shivering are also indicators that a dog is in pain. If your dog is shivering on a constant basis you should rule out any medical conditions. You need to give your pup a complete body check to see if there are any sensitive or painful areas. Touch the whole body gently and carefully. Run your fingers down the back and legs gently, check under the tail. Check between toes and check the pads of the feet. Look at the face, cup it in your hands and slide your hands down the chest. Check eyes, ears, and mouth. Look on the belly and rub it gently. Even if your pup does not appear to be sensitive to your physical touch, there are still many metabolic problems that could cause pain. Make sure your dog is medically cleared by your veterinarian before assuming that the shivering is not medically based (especially if you notice anything else abnormal--not eating, listless, vomiting, diarrhea, limping, reluctant to run or jump, etc.)

Behavior based:

Good signs that the shivering is behavior based is that it is NOT constant. If your pup doesn't shake when eating, playing, interested in walks or "gets to go for a ride," etc. Shivering can be a symptom of stress, separation anxiety, and or fear. See this site for more info:

Dogs can also use shivering as an attention getting behavior. Remember, dogs will repeat a behavior that gets a positive response. That's the whole premise of positive reward--based dog training. So just like sitting politely (dog's behavior) brings forth a cookie (positive reinforcement), some dogs have found that shivering (dog's behavior) brings forth mom's concern in the form of attention (positive reinforcement).

If you think this may be the problem you will need to determine what initiates this behavior and how you may be unconsciously rewarding the behavior. For example-- if your pup only starts to shiver when you start to leave the house and you notice the shivering and come back to pet and "reassure your dog that its ok" then you are rewarding the shivering behavior. As long as the shivering is rewarded the behavior will continue! To extinguish this behavior you will need to start ignoring the shivering and reward and pay attention to the dog when NOT shivering. You can also try distraction by playing games while working with and reinforcing basic obedience skills. Remember NO positive reinforcement when your pup is shivering!

In short, make sure there are no medical reasons for the shivering and if not, then address the behavior issues. You also might find it helpful to enlist a good trainer to help you with her behavior issues if needed. Just make sure the trainer is a positive, reward based trainer!