Dogs tremble and shake for lots of different reasons, but context is key to understanding why your dog shakes. Ask yourself: what are all the factors at play when he shakes?

In broad terms, dogs shake when they are cold, scared, excited, in pain, or sick. However, you’ve surely noticed how your dog shakes after he’s been for a swim or come out of his bath. These normal shakes are simply meant to shed his fur of excess water.

The most likely reason your dog shakes before you go for a walk is excitement. For most dogs, going for a walk is a joyful occasion. It means having you all to himself with the stimulation of all kinds of sights, sounds, and smells! When you pull out the leash, he will associate it with all these good things.

Although the causes are not always known, it’s possible that the excitement could trigger your dog to have a seizure, which also causes shaking and trembling. This is a medical issue that requires evaluation and treatment.

Why does my dog shake during a walk?

There are many reasons why your dog may shake while you are walking him. Be alert to your dog’s behaviors to see if you can identify the reason he is shaking. Some of the possible reasons for the shaking include the following:

Cold

A cold dog is a shaking or trembling dog. This is especially true with dogs who have thinner coats, such as Boxers, Dobermans, Greyhounds, Rat Terrier, Miniature Pinschers, Boston Terriers and Chihuahuas. The thin coats on these dogs do not give them the protection they need to stay warm. Because of this, unless they have some covering, some days are just too cold for them to go for a walk.

Sickness or Pain

Dogs can’t tell us when they are hurting or where it hurts, but there are signs of pain such as limping, panting, and yes, shaking. The pain could be from a host of possibilities including inflammation, infection, or trauma.

Some diseases can also cause your dog to shake while walking. Addison’s disease is an endocrine disorder that can cause a dog to shake. Shaking can also be the result of low blood sugar or low blood calcium. Both issues can also cause muscle twitches and seizures. Other diseases that can cause shaking include kidney disease, generalized tremor syndrome, poisoning, and brain diseases.

Old Age

Just like us humans, our old dog friends suffer from joint aches and pains, most often the result of arthritis. Excessive shaking and limping necessitates a trip to the vet.

Stress or Fear

For some dogs, a walk means lions, tigers, and bears, even if they can’t be seen. These dogs are naturally timid and all the sights, sounds and smells on a walk can be overwhelming, resulting in uncontrollable shaking.

Or your dog may indeed see, smell, or hear something specific that elicits stress or fear. Coming across a bigger, clearly aggressive dog could send his muscles into shaking gyrations. Anything that causes your dog fear or stress can result in his shaking.

Why does my dog shake after a walk?

So many things can be the root cause of why your dog shakes after you come home from a walk, but in broad terms, he’s probably tired or in pain.

Tired

Many factors influence how tired your dog may be after a walk, therefore causing him to shake. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How far was the walk?
  2. Was it further than your usual walk?
  3. Did your dog shake during the walk or just when you got home?
  4. Did you walk at the same approximate time of day as usual?
  5. Have you noticed any other unusual behaviors recently?

Pain

Sometimes, dogs won’t show they are in pain during their walk because they are too distracted by everything. They may have been in pain all along, but don’t show or really notice it until they are home and at rest. That’s when the shaking begins.

What to do about my dog shaking when we go for a walk?

Before anything else, you need to find out the probable cause of your dog’s shaking and trembling. Number 1 on the list is a visit to the vet. Then, based on the cause, here are some possible solutions.

Excitement

Excitement can generate more excitement, and therefore, more shaking. Consider working with a trainer to calm your dog before walk-time.

Cold

A trembling, shaking dog needs warmth, which you can provide by blanketing him with a dog coat or sweater. For those icy, frigid days, consider putting a pair of booties on his feet. These will also protect his feet from irritation caused by salt and other road chemicals used to treat snowy roads.

Sickness or Pain

If your dog is sick or in pain, you need to take him to the vet as soon as possible to get him the proper treatment.

Old Age

When your best buddy ages, it’s clear he’s not the same, active and robust self he once was. Your vet can help you develop a game plan to keep him as active as he can be, as well as perhaps prescribe something to make him more comfortable. Some things you can do are take him on shorter walks, or just walk every other day. Take rest breaks during the walk. Head for home when it’s clear to you that he’s had enough.

If sickness is the cause of his shaking, the best approach is to let him rest and take a few days off from his walks.

One of life’s great pleasures is taking a dog for a walk. Shaking before, during and after a walk is not necessarily something worrisome, but do make that visit to the vet to make sure nothing problematic is affecting your pet.

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.