Why Do Dogs Shake Their Heads?

Dogs do some weird things sometimes. I should know since I am one. We eat things we’re not meant to. We like to pee on every tree we walk past. We chew everything.

Sometimes we do these things for no particular reason. However, there are other times where there could be hidden reasons behind the reasons we do things.

In this article, I am going to be taking you through some of the reasons why your dog is shaking their head. We all know it looks super cute when your dog is doing a little head bob or full of ear-flapping shake.

But could this be a signal that something is wrong? Or are they just doing it for fun?

Keep on reading to find out what the reasons could be…

dog running mud

What does it mean if your dog is shaking his head?

Your dog could be shaking their head for a whole host of reasons. It is typically normal behavior and no cause for concern.

Think of it this way – unlike you humans, we dogs have no fingers and thumbs. This means that we can’t scratch our heads and ears easily when we get a little itch. Shaking our heads vigorously is the only way to fix this!

You may also notice that we shake our heads when we get wet. This is the best way to get water out of our eyes and any excess water off our fur!

Likewise, if we have any dust, pollen, or any other thing that we find annoying on us, we will shake our heads to get it off!

If you notice that your dog shakes their head once or twice and you can trace it to an irritant such as water that has annoyed your pooch, then there is typically no reason to be worried.

However, be aware of your dog starting to become distressed and shaking its head constantly. This may signify an issue that needs your veterinarian’s attention such as an infection, skin condition, ear mites, and even illness.

It may also mean that there is something lodged in your pooch’s ear canal.

What to do if your dog keeps shaking their head?

If you notice that your dog is persistently shaking their head, then, as we said in the section above, it could signify a problem. It is important not to panic.

If your dog will let you, see if you can check their ears as best you can to look for any signs of trauma such as bleeding or something lodged in the ear canal.

It is important that you do not try and retrieve anything, especially without the advice of your veterinarian. This could cause further damage.

If you cannot see any trauma check to see if the skin looks sore or irritated. This may indicate a skin condition or infection.

Give your vet a call as soon as you notice this persistent head shaking and get your pooch booked in for a check-up. Ensure you explain how often the shaking is happening, and whether you have identified any issues yourself.

Just because you cannot see any issues yourself, doesn’t mean that your dog is fine. Any persistent shaking could indicate something troublesome, and the best person to diagnose and treat this will always be a vet, even if you cannot see anything wrong yourself.

Why do dogs shake their head when they get up?

Just like humans, we dogs need to stretch and shake our bodies out when we wake up from a nap!

The best way for us to do this is to give our whole bodies a vigorous shake – including our heads!

Anyone who has ever been slapped by the flapping ears of a dog shaking their head can attest to the fact that when we shake, we mean business!

Most of the time, a dog having a big shake when they wake up is nothing at all to be worried about – just remember that they are having their stretch and shaking out any stiff areas after their nap!

However, if you do notice that your dog seems to be persistently shaking its heads after a nap, it could indicate one of the issues that we discussed earlier in the article such as an infection, skin irritation, ear mites, or something in the ear canal.

As well as this, a dog’s ear canal is often a warm and moist place. As gross as it sounds, they present an ideal home for bugs!

It is not uncommon for an insect to fly into your dog’s ear while they are asleep and still and decide to set up camp. This can result in a waking dog feeling the bug and shaking it out!

How do you know if your dog has ear mites?

Ear mites are a super common ailment for dogs (and cats), and so it is likely that your beloved pooch will experience them at some point in their life.

They are so small that humans cannot see them with the naked eye.

For this reason, diagnosis of them usually requires the dog’s ear canal to be seen under a microscope.

Now, there are not many humans out there who happen to have a microscope lying around, and so typically you need to get your pooch along to the vets to confirm the presence of ear mites.

That being said, there are some telltale signs that you can look out for from your pooch that may indicate that they are experiencing ear mites. You guessed it!

Head shaking is the main one. Ear mites are incredibly itchy, and so your dog will be shaking their head constantly!


There you have it! My expert guide on the reasons why your dog is shaking their head! As you can see, it could be down to many reasons, and it is not an immediate cause for concern.

However, if you do notice that your pooch is shaking its head constantly it may be worth taking a little trip to the vets just to see if there is anything else going on like an infection or pests.