Yorkshire terrier. the hostess walks her pet in the park on a summer day.

Why Do Terriers Shake? We Explain


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Cold, excited … or something else? Why do terriers shake? Jack Russell or Fox Terrier, Yorkie or Staffie – terriers are adorable and energetic canine companions known for their lively and spirited personalities. But if you’re a terrier parent, you may have noticed your furry friend shaking from time to time. While it can be concerning, a dog shaking is often a natural response to various factors.

Below, we delve into the reasons behind why terriers shake, exploring both common and potential medical causes. Understanding these reasons can help you give them the right care and comfort when they get the shakes.

Cute purebred terrier puppy indoors. Why do terriers shake?

Why do terriers shake? Is it due to cold or discomfort?

Yes, one common reason terriers shake is because they’re cold! Terriers have relatively short coats, which can leave them more prone to feeling cold. When exposed to chilly weather or wet conditions, their natural response is to shake to generate body heat and warm up.

Similarly, if your terrier is in pain, discomfort, or irritated, shaking can be a reflexive attempt to get rid of those sensations. It’s important to make sure your terrier has access to a warm and comfortable environment and address any potential sources of discomfort promptly.

Read our tips on how to keep your pet warm.

What about excitement or anticipation?

Terriers are known for their lively and exuberant nature, and shaking can be an expression of that. Whether it’s the prospect of playtime, going for a walk, or simply receiving attention from their favourite human, the surge of excitement can show up as trembling or shaking.

This behaviour is typically harmless and is often accompanied by wagging tails and joyful expressions. Embrace your terrier’s zest for life and engage in activities that channel their energy positively.

A dog hiding under a bed due to the Diwali fireworks. Make sure to read up on dogs and fireworks this Diwali 2022

Do terriers shake because of anxiety or fear?

Just like humans, terriers can get anxious or scared in certain situations. Loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks, unfamiliar environments, separation from their pet parents, or encounters with other animals can make them anxious.

When confronted with these stressors, they make shake as a physical display of their emotional state. It’s essential to provide a safe and calm environment for your pup, especially during stressful events. Gradual desensitisation techniques, behavioural training, and comforting reassurance can help bring down their anxiety and reduce shaking.

Read more: Separation Anxiety in Pets: How to Help Them.

Nervousness or stresscan they really make terriers shake?

As above, terriers may shake when they feel nervous or stressed. Vet visits, grooming sessions, or crowded environments can overwhelm them and cause them to shake.

You can help control their nervousness and stress through patient and gradual exposure to triggering situations, positive reinforcement, and creating a sense of security for your pup. Calming aids, like pheromone diffusers or anxiety wraps, may bring down their stress.

A medical condition can also make terriers shake

In some cases, a dog shaking may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Issues such as pain, tremors, seizures, or neurological disorders can make terriers shake.

If their shaking is ongoing and you see other symptoms like not eating, lethargy, or changes in behaviour, it’s important to go to your vet. They can conduct a thorough exam, do relevant tests, and provide a proper diagnosis. Early detection and the right treatment of medical conditions can help lessen your pup’s discomfort and improve their overall wellbeing.

Not to mention, it will reassure you that nothing serious is causing the trembles. Or put you and your pet on the path to treating whatever conditions is causing it.

Tips to help them to stop shaking

If your terrier dog is shaking and it’s causing you concern and them discomfort, here are some tips to help lessen or prevent shaking episodes:

#1 Provide a warm and comfortable environment

Ensure that they have a cozy and warm space to relax. Provide a soft and comfortable bed or blankie in a draft-free area. If the weather is cold, consider using dog sweaters or coats to help keep them warm when they’re outside. Check out these awesome dog winter jackets and warmers to get, ASAP!

Just make sure your terrier is comfortable wearing them and keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t overheat.

#2 See what’s making them uncomfortable

Maybe your dog is shaking because there’s something physical that’s making them uncomfortable. Look for signs of injury, skin irritations, or other issues. See your vet if you suspect any underlying health problems that could be making them shake.

#3 Minimize anxiety and fear triggers

It’s a good idea to pinpoint situations or stimuli that trigger anxiety or fear in your pup and work on minimising exposure to that. Gradual desensitisation techniques, positive reinforcement training, and creating a calm and secure environment can be helpful. See a professional dog trainer or behaviourist for guidance if you need.

#4 Provide mental and physical stimulation

Terriers are energetic breeds that need mental and physical exercise to channel their energy positively. Sometimes terriers shake because they haven’t had enough stimulation. Play with them regularly, provide them with toys, and incorporate daily walks or other forms of exercise to help release excess energy and lessen anxiety.

Check out this article: Dog Breed Exercise Requirements to make sure your pup is getting enough stimulation.

Young man with his dog, Jack Russell Terrier, on the city street in spring time.

#5 Consider calming supplements or therapies

Natural calming supplements, such as chamomile or lavender, may help reduce anxiety in some dogs. You may also want to research alternative therapies like aromatherapy or massage.

Also, certain types of pet food now include calming ingredients. Check out our Pet Food Insights with Royal Canin and Purina article to find out more.

Importantly, always chat to your vet before introducing any supplements or medications.

#6 Maintain a consistent routine

All dogs thrive on routine, as it gives them with a sense of stability and predictability. Stick to a regular feeding schedule, exercise routine, and consistent sleep and wake-up times. This will help make your pup feel safe and a lot less stressed.

#7 See a vet

Some terriers shake despite our best efforts. If your pup’s tremors are excessive, persistent, or there are other concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult with a vet. They can assess your pup’s health, do the necessary tests, and give professional advice specific to your dog.

Remember, each terrier is unique! It may take some time and patience to find the underlying cause and the best strategies to lessen their shaking. Be observant of their behaviour and seek professional help if you need to.

More about breeds

Find out more about terriers and some other favourite NZ breeds below:

Shake it off with the best pet insurance

So now you know some reasons why terriers shake. Regardless of whether your dog shakes or not, accident and illnesses can happen unexpectedly. Vet check-ups, medication and other pet health care costs can rack up hefty bills. This is why we’ve tail-ored three affordable dog insurance plans to help you cover costs.

Check them out and get a quote today.

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