4 min read


Why Do Dogs Always Shake Their Heads



4 min read


Why Do Dogs Always Shake Their Heads




Daisy is an intuitive dog that loves to listen. She even shakes her head when she is listening to you, and you find this endearing. But Daisy has, unfortunately, had some serious head-shaking issues too. She has had some issues with her ears in the past, and this resulted in some more frantic head shaking to try to alleviate the pain. You have had to watch Daisy shake that head with vigor in order to get some relief. Because of this, you found out that head shaking can be both good and bad, and you now know that certain types of shakes mean certain things for your beloved Daisy.

The Root of the Behavior

As stated above, a dog’s head shaking can be good, or it can be bad. Some positive reasons that a dog might shake her head is to listen. It is adorable when Daisy cocks her head from side to side when you talk; this is because she is trying to align her ears better to hear you. She also is indicating that she is, in fact, listening to you. Another harmless reason for head shaking is when Daisy gets done with a swim or bath and shakes her head to get rid of the excess water on her fur and in her ears. These are all positive instances when Daisy shakes that noggin. But there are some negative reasons why dogs shake their heads too. A very common one has to do with a dog’s ears. Like people, dogs get ear infections. An ear is a perfect environment for bacteria. It is dark, moist, and has some crevices that bacteria can easily grow in. Ears also produce wax and sometimes dogs can have excess wax that is also uncomfortable. Moreover, dogs can also have inflamed ear canals. Dachshunds and Terriers are breeds in which this occurs more frequently than with others.  Ears can also be enticing homes for parasites, such as ear mites and other insects. A couple other negative reasons for head shaking includes allergies and foreign objecting getting lodged in the vertical part of the eardrum, ouch! Also, dogs may shake their heads sporadically due to seizures. Although there are quite a few negative and scary sounding reasons for dogs to shake their heads, some of these situations are rare, and many of them have common solutions that will get your dog back into good health. Because of the various things that head shaking can mean, It is important, as an owner, to be able to differentiate Daisy’s good shakes from the bad. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

If you see Daisy shaking her head after swimming or a bath, this is obviously no need for concern. Her head nodding when she is listening to you speak is cute and does not need to be addressed. You probably even provide her with positive reinforcement when she nods her head during these moments because it is so darn cute. But if Daisy is shaking her head and seems to be losing her balance and also scratching her ear, then you might have an ear issue at hand. Examine her ear and see if you can see anything lodged inside of it. If there is something, and you can easily take it out then do, but if it is lodged deeper inside, get her to a vet and let them take care of it. Also, observe if the ear is red and/or inflamed. This might be a sign of allergies, and again, a vet can help by recommending a change in diet or some medicine for Daisy’s relief. If you see brown crud in Daisy’s ears, then it might be ear mites, and a vet also has drops that will take care of that. Perhaps the scariest instance of head shaking is when dogs have seizures. If your dog has a seizure, you are not going to try to stop the head shaking, but you are going to try to make Daisy comfortable by getting her to a safe place away a lot of furniture and objects. The seizure may last a couple minutes, and you should wait with her and talk to her in soothing tones until it passes, then take her to the vet to see the underlying cause of the seizure. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

If your dog is a dachshund or terrier be aware that they might be more prone to ear problems. Also, if your dog has large floppy ears, they might be more prone to moisture building up in their ears. This is why owners should check their dog's ears frequently for any signs of inflammation, debris, insects, allergies, etc. Owners should also clean their dog’s ears regularly. You can do so with a cotton swab, damp cloth, and soap, or just make a note of it everytime Daisy takes her bath. Also, be observant for ear discharge and odors, both of which can signal an infection. It is important that if you suspect an infection, you get your dog checked out. If left untreated, ear infections can lead to major illnesses and even deafness. If Daisy is scratching her ear because of an infection, you might also want her to use a cone or Elizabeth collar to prevent her from further injuring herself.


It is true that Daisy’s head shaking can be a result of some negative circumstances, but if you are observant, check your dog’s ears regularly, maintain healthy check-ups and diet, then you are doing everything you can to ensure that Daisy will be just fine. And if Daisy does get an infection, seizure, parasite, etc. you know the signs and steps to take care of it, and for this, she will appreciate your pawesomeness. 

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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