Can Dogs Fake Shiver?

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Introduction

Are dogs capable of faking a shiver? Have you ever witnessed a dog fake a shiver? One pet owner recalls her experience. She had a Pit Bull Terrior who was quite a chubby little girl and she hated the cold. More importantly, she hated exercise. 

Every time the lead was picked, she would immediately shiver and collapse. Initially, the owner thought something was terribly wrong, but over time it became obvious that she was faking it. 

So the poignant question is, are dogs capable of faking their shivers and why do they do that? Let’s find out.

Signs Your Dog is Fake Shivering

During winter it may be difficult to assess whether the cold is getting to your animal. However, if they demonstrate a shiver during the warmer months and you have checked with the vet there is nothing wrong (Yes, it makes sense to check with the Vet) then there are a couple of signs that attribute to this faking. Some dogs learn to love the attention they get whenever they shiver. 

And that’s the point really. If you can rule out the weather, rule out a bath, and rule out any physical attributes, it is likely your dog’s way of gaining that extra bit of attention and love. So if you have a dog that shivers or fakes it and you know there is nothing wrong with them, think of how you react to that. You may realize that you melt every time your dog shivers and they may just love the fun and games that ensues.

This may not be a physical affliction as in your environment, but your dog may suffer from anxiety and stress, particularly if their home life is not good. Maybe you work long hours and they are uneasy about being left alone. Maybe they have been abused in the past before they have come into your possession. 

Just like us, dogs can feel stress and depression and if they are generally unwell, then shivering can be a release and may be the only way to to tell you something is wrong. In these sad cases, they may need some sort of medication to help them through. Speak with your vet if you suspect this is the case. Dogs can be very sensitive and affected by their environments and may be there is a little conflict or unease in their living conditions.

Body Language

Some signs that your pooch is fake shivering are:
  • Staring
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Body freezing

Other Signs

More signs that indicate you have a faker are:

  • Drooping Tail
  • Shivering in warm months
  • Getting excited when you give them attention

History of Dogs Shivering

As long as dogs have been our companion animals and our best friends, there has been evidence in a very individualistic way (not studies) that dogs can fake injuries, pain, and shivering. It is assumed that dogs receive some sort of benefits. 

Maybe the owner will soothe them, shower them with love and attention, or give them a treat. This all makes it sound like dogs are great manipulators. And indeed that is true. But dogs generally assess a situation and do this to receive GOOD benefits. 

Like humans, dogs really do understand that certain actions have reactions or consequences. In some cases, the dogs may completely ignore the consequences, but lap up healthy and loving attention. It is very much a learned behavior. And it is taught by us, the humans. 

Dogs are very clever; they are able to distinguish what actions get what and they purposely do things to get that reaction. 

Science of Dogs Faking a Shiver

As we have previously mentioned, aside from a serious medical or psychophysiological reason, your dog may fake a shiver to receive the attention they are so lovingly addicted to. It is always impertinent to get your dog assessed in order to eradicate medical reasons but once your vet has ruled out something more sinister, you can safely assume your dog is loving their rewards of faking a shiver from giving your time and your company to your best friend. 

Like children, they can play up, have you on, and fake all sorts of things to get that very loving attention. You could say our dogs are award winning actors and actresses. And generally they are hilarious to witness

Training a Dog to Fake Shiver

If you really want your pooch to start shivering on command, you are going to have to do some rigorous positive behavior reinforcing. Observe your pooch when they are most likely to break out into a shiver. When they finally do this, go crazy with the praise and treats so that they know you approve of their actions.

It will probably take quite a bit of time to get this trick down, but after you have rewarded the behavior many times, you can start to add the command word (likely "shiver"). 

Continue to work on this and over time you just may find yourself with a shivering pooch! What a hoot!

How to React When Your Dog Fake Shivers:

  • Make sure there isn't an underlying health reason for the shiver.
  • Ensure that your dog is warm.
  • Do not give your dog attention if you do not wish to reinforce the behavior.

We Want to Hear About Your Dog Fake Shivering!