Many mammals, including dogs, with fur shake when they’re wet. Fur can keep an animal warm, and if it retains too much water, it can also keep them too cool. Without shaking most of the water off their bodies, they would spend a considerable amount of their calories each day trying to get warm and dry again throughout the day.

Why does my dog shake after a bath?

Dogs shake during and after a bath because they sense there is too much moisture in their fur and near their skin. They don’t always mind being wet during a bath, but you’ll notice the second the water stops running over their body, they shake.

Their fur can be pretty thick, and depending on the breed, it can be even thicker the closer it gets to their skin. It can be heavy with that much water soaking in it and may even cause pain from hair pulling down the skin.

What to do if your dog shakes after a bath?

Shaking after the bath removes around 70% of the saturation in their fur in mere seconds. This effect provides them with welcome relief. At this point, they are eagerly looking at you to remove much of the rest of it.

Apply a thick warm towel over their body and begin to mop up as much water as you can. Gently remove it from their face and only squeeze the ears gently. Be extremely careful about the inner hind legs, as this part of the dog is very sensitive. If you grab it too hard, even to try and get the water off, it may cause them pain.

Keep rubbing the towel over their body as much as they will allow. You want to get the dog as dry as possible. The dog may continue to shake one or two more times during this process.

What to do when your dog heads straight for furniture or dirt after a bath?

When the dog thinks you’ve done your job well enough, they bolt out of your presence and usually head for one of four places: furniture, the clean clothes pile, grass, or a dirt patch. You’ll notice before you can catch them, they’ve already begun rubbing their face and body on this object or in the outdoor area. They are simply trying to get dry as fast as possible.

It’s helpful to redirect the dog back to your towels and your hands. When they realize you’re there to get the water off, they will usually oblige. On warmer days, allow them to finish drying in the sun. On less warm days, finish drying them off with a hairdryer.

Using a hairdryer might be necessary for all dogs who have thick undercoats next to their skin. Be extremely careful to keep the hot dryer at least eight inches from their body and only keep the heat on any one given area for a second or two at a time to avoid burns.

Why is my dog shaking before taking a bath? 

Bathing can make a dog feel uncertain about what is happening to it. Combine this with a slippery surface in a bathtub and the sound of roaring water (to dogs who already have sensitive hearing), the bath can be a bit extra scary for them. Most dogs do not enjoy being bathed, and almost all of them are happy when bath time is finally over.

You can comfort your dog by speaking kindly to it and maybe even offering it small treats while you’re preparing the bath and while they are in the tub to help soothe their nerves. Try placing a towel or a non-skid mat on the floor before putting the dog in the bath. The traction makes it easier for your fur friend to stand, and they won’t be as nervous being in the tub.

Do dogs get cold after a bath?

Yes. Dogs can get cold after a bath, especially if you live in a windy or drafty environment or if the daytime temperatures are not very high. Wet dogs should be permitted access to warmth as soon as possible following their bath. You should towel them off and bring them indoors as soon as you can.

Smaller breeds who don’t have a lot of hair and breeds who have thick undercoats will need to be dried as soon as possible in winter conditions as they have the highest risk of suffering from hypothermia if they are not dried well enough.

Just because the top of the fur is dry doesn’t mean that it’s dry underneath. For dogs known to have undercoats, run your fingers over their body (make it fun for them) and find the still wet spots next to the skin. You’ll usually find more than one damp area that still needs drying. Spend more time drying these areas to keep your furry companion as comfortable as possible.

How often should a dog have a bath?

Each dog will have different needs based on whether they are an outdoor working dog or a small indoor lapdog. On average, a dog should be bathed and have its nails trimmed every month.

Dogs shouldn’t be bathed more than once every two weeks unless they get into things that are particularly smelly or offensive. You should always seek to clean them at least once every three months. If you wait that long, make sure they get their nails trimmed monthly no matter what.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.