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Why is My Dog Acting Scared and Shaking? 5 Things You Need to Know

Dogs shake and act scared primarily because of anxiety. If your dog is afraid of something or someone in the house, it can start shaking until the stressor is removed. Other causes include sickness, pain, and a female dog in heat.

Sometimes dogs exhibit behaviors that are incomprehensible to their owners. Dogs usually shake to remove excess water from their coats after a bath. Excessive shaking, along with fear, can be a sign of something serious that requires attention.

If your dog is acting scared, there is something bothering it which should be removed. This can help calm your dog down and stop it from shaking.

This article discusses the various reasons why dogs act scared and shake and provides you with the solutions to stop it.

Why is My Dog Acting Scared and Shaking?

Anxiety is one of the biggest reasons why dogs shake and act scared. To solve it, find the exact cause of the problem and take the necessary actions to calm down your dog.

Dogs can fear many things, such as thunderstorms and loud noises. These can all trigger shaking.

Normal stress responses, such as startling or being alert in the presence of strangers, are healthy for dogs. Occasional shaking and fear are nothing to worry about. 

Things start to get serious when the shaking becomes obsessive. There are several reasons why dogs shake. Some are harmless, while others require proper veterinary care and treatment.

Why is My Dog Acting Scared and Shaking

Dog Shivering During Heat Cycle

Female dogs go into heat every six to seven months. These cycles last anywhere from ten days to more than a month, depending on the breed. Shaking can be a sign of stress in female dogs during their heat cycles.

It is also possible your female dog develops an infection during its heat cycle, which causes extreme pain. Pyometra[1] is a common infection of the womb that occurs due to hormonal changes during heat cycles.

Why is My Dog Shaking and Hiding in a Corner?

There are various reasons why your dog is shaking and hiding in a corner. The most probable reason is fear. 

Here are the most common fear triggers in dogs:

  • Firetruck alarm
  • Thunderstorms
  • New smells
  • Strangers
  • Other animals
  • Past negative experience

Any of these can cause fear in your dog. Identify the root cause of the problem and take the required steps to remove the stressor.

5 Reasons Dogs Act Scared and Shake

Anxiety is the most common reason for shaking in dogs. Past negative experiences or illnesses can also lead to shaking and fear. Female dogs in heat also shake due to excessive stress.

Obsessive shaking and acting scared are not normal behaviors for dogs. This can be the result of an underlying condition in need of attention.

Here are five reasons why dogs act scared and shake:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Sickness
  3. Negative past experiences
  4. Pain
  5. Heat cycles

1. Anxiety

Anxiety Can Cause Shivering

Environmental factors can cause anxiety in dogs, which in turn can cause fear and shaking. Sudden loud sounds or the presence of other animals are common triggers of anxiety.

Separation anxiety[2] is a condition that occurs when dogs are left alone for long periods of time. This is a common anxiety issue in dogs. They become destructive if not trained to handle the separation. 

It is recommended to start training your pooch to stay alone from puppyhood to prevent anxiety-related issues.

2. Sickness

sick dog on vet clinic

Illness can make your dog shake due to discomfort. Dogs cannot communicate their sickness to their owners, who rely on behavioral signs. It’s also possible for dogs to be scared when they’re sick.

Look for signs of sickness in your pooch:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

Take your dog to a vet as soon as possible if you notice signs of sickness.

3. Negative Past Experiences Can Lead to Fear

Fear of the Unknown

Past experiences can haunt dogs for a long time. If you have ever dropped your dog or scolded it, it can lead to trauma and fear. Adopted or rescued dogs often have a past full of abuses which triggers fear and shaking.

Other common fear triggers include:

  • A harsh tone of voice
  • Threatening hand gestures
  • Specific pungent smells

Earn your dog’s trust and calm it down to desensitize it.

4. Pain and Injury

clingy dog in pain

Dogs love running and jumping. Reckless playing can result in injuries. If your dog is injured, it can start shaking due to pain. Some dog also acts scared if the pain is severe.

Check for signs of injuries and tend to any wounds. In case of fractures, take your dog to a veterinarian to provide the proper treatment.

Related: Dog Shaking and Limping

5. Female Dog In Heat

Dog Heatstroke

Female dogs sometimes shake during their heat cycle. This is mainly due to excessive stress and hormonal changes. Male dogs start hanging around female dogs during heat cycles which can frighten them.

Another possibility is an illness in relation to the heat cycle. Urinary tract infections[3] or Pyometra are the results of hormonal changes in female dogs due to their heat cycle. They cause extreme pain, which results in shaking.

How to Stop Dogs from Acting Scared and Shaking

Identify the main cause of shaking and fear in your dog to provide the right treatment. Calm your dog by reassuring it to stop its anxiety. Take it to a veterinarian if the shaking worsens over time.

The first step is to identify the root cause of the problem. If your dog is scared due to an external factor, eliminate it to stop the shaking.

Here are some of the steps you can take to stop your dog from acting scared and shaking.

  • Reassure your dog and gently pat it to calm it down.
  • Start training your pooch for separation anxiety early on in its life.
  • Observe your dog’s behavior and look for signs of illness.
  • Let your dog rest and have a sound sleep.
  • Earn your dog’s trust and make it forget previous bad experiences.
  • Check for signs of injuries on your dog. Cover up any wounds and take your dog to a veterinarian in the case of a fracture or torn tendons.
  • If your female dog is in heat, keep the male dogs away from it till it starts to calm down.

Visit a veterinarian if your dog’s condition worsens or if you are unable to identify the reason for shaking and fear in your dog.


Dogs shake due to various reasons. Shaking and acting scared is not normal among dogs. Check for signs of injuries, illness, or fear in your pooch to provide the necessary care.

Occasional shaking is harmless but if the shaking becomes obsessive, consult a veterinarian to get an idea of how to proceed.


Why is My Dog Shaking on Her Period?

Your dog can be shaking due to stress. Female dogs tend to develop stress when they are on their periods which makes them shake. It is also possible that your dog has developed a disease such as a UTI or Pyometra, which causes extreme pain.

Why is My New Puppy Scared and Shaking?

Getting a new puppy is exciting. Your new puppy can be shaking due to fear of the new place. Puppies do not generally interact with a lot of people in breeding homes. Seeing unfamiliar faces can make your dog scared. The shaking should subdue within a few days as the dog becomes comfortable with the new environment. 

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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