My goal with this blog is for you to enjoy your time here. Most of the posts talk about my experiences raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, some are just for fun, and others share the best dog related information and products I have found.

Use the tabs above for quick navigation. I have imbedded links for as much as possible so that you can find the resources easily from this blog. The links in the side bar are for websites that have been helpful to me. I hope that you find them useful for you and your canine "family member"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The "Shake Off" - Why dogs sometimes shake for no apparent reason.

There are several blog feeds that I enjoy reading on a regular basis. One of them you can find in my sidebar - Pappy's Dog Blog. The most recent post titled"Hippy Hippy Shake" made me realize how much I've learned about my dogs communication without realizing it.

In her book Canine Body Language: A photographic Guide, Brenda Aloff offers one explanation for this behavior. She points out that the "Shake Off" is something dogs will do that "indicates that the dog is coming down off adrenaline" . . . and "is moving into a Thinking or Responding state and out of a Reactive and unpredictable state." She goes on to explain more about this particular behavior and how this behavior is played out in dog/dog interactions. She has great pictures to go with her explanation that show various breeds of dogs demonstrating this behavior.

I can attest to the accuracy of this explanation with my own dear Shelby a prime example of a Reactive Dog. If he is in a "reactive" (or hind brain) mode and is trying to self calm or refocus he will shake from head to tail. It mainly starts with his head being most vigorously shaken but can go all the way to his tail sometimes. As he gets excited when he sees new people or if other dogs approach our gate I often see him try to shake off his "reactivity" if I give him an anchoring command like "leave it", "sit", "heal" etc. I'm asking him to refocus and it his way of trying to comply as quickly as possible. Sometimes it will happen without my intervention or redirection but after he has gone a bit "reactive" i.e. seeing a squirrel, bird close by.

I'm sure there are other reasons why dogs shake. I can tell you however that knowing as much as possible about why my dogs may do something gives me such an invaluable understanding of what my dog may be telling me. I highly recommend Brenda Aloff's book. Reading her book is similar to when you've gone to visit a foreign country and all you here is gibberish then all of a sudden someone comes along and starts translating the gibberish into meaningful words and phrases. Your whole world changes. That's what this book did for me and my ability to understand my dogs. It was a beautiful thing!!!

Side note:
For those of you who come regularly and have been wondering where I've been, sorry I've been MIA. A friend has just brought his mom home on hospice and I've been helping out. This was a nice break from where my energy has been focused recently. I hope you find the information interesting and hopefully helpful.


Karen Shanley said...

"I can tell you however that knowing as much as possible about why my dogs may do something gives me such an invaluable understanding of what my dog may be telling me."

Perfectly said! And sorry to hear about your friend's mom. Sending her good thoughts.

Pappy's Fella said...

Whew, comments are finally fixed on blogger. Thanks for the insights, Sunshine.

Pappy's fella