Cleaning & Grooming

How To Teach Your Dog To Do A Full Body ‘Shake’

Our dog, Destin, rolling in the grass, while puppy Tenor looks on.We taught our dogs to “shake” (their fur) on command. This is great whenever they’re wet after a bath or a walk in the rain, or after a doggie roll on the ground where his fur has collected bits of everything that was in the grass. Here’s how we taught our dogs to “shake”…

Have you ever had a wet dog on your hands (after a bath, or a walk outside in the rain) and just wished he would “shake” his fur on command? You know, to knock most of the wet dripping water off.

Or, what about when your dog rolls on the ground and collects bits of leaves, grass and who-knows-what-else in his fur? If only he would knock much of that debris out with a good “shake” first. Then you’d feel better about him jumping in the car or entering the house, right?

We taught our dogs to “shake” (their fur) on command.

Here’s how…


Bathtub Etiquette

To get our dogs to “shake” on command, we started in the bathtub.

Our mission was simply to not let them get out of the tub UNTIL they shook!


Shaking Wet Fur Is A Natural Behavior

This is Jersey, our American Eskimo dog moments after he 'shook' soap suds all over Destin, who was waiting in line for the next bath! Fortunately, it’s pretty much a natural reaction for any dog that’s wet to want to shake their fur dry. So, during the bath, any time they would shake, we would immediately hoot & holler “GOOD SHAKE!”

Of course, at first, they didn’t have a clue what we were so excited about. But this reaction paid off for us in the long run.

Usually, each dog would feel the urge to “shake” at least twice during their bath — on their own. So that gave us two times to praise them for performing such behavior — without us even asking for it!


Shaking On Command Isn’t

The harder part was getting them to “shake” at the end of the bath, and on command.

How’d we do that?…

Our dog, Destin, who seemed clueless about 'shaking' on command on this day. We simply stood there and waited. Sometimes, it seemed like forever. But, no matter what, they were never allowed to get out of the tub until they would “shake” first. (Even if they were no longer “dripping wet” at this point!)

Naturally, I was right there coaxing them… “Shake…Shake…” all the while, staring impatiently at them while they looked completely bewildered.

Eventually, however, they would instinctively feel the urge to do just one more shake — which got them lots of praise and a free pass out of the bathtub!

That’s pretty much how we did it.


Extending “Shake” Outside of the Bath

Our dog, Tenor, shaking while running outside. One thing that sped the process up a bit, was the fact that we constantly looked for opportunities to praise the dogs for “shaking” — either on command or not.

For example, any time the dogs would be in the backyard or playing indoors and they would “shake” (after roughhousing, or rolling in the grass for example), we would immediately praise them: “Good Shake!”

Eventually, they began to put together the words “Good Shake” with the behavior, and they would do it on command — for praise and/or a treat.


Final Thoughts

I’d say it took about 3 baths, before each of our dogs was “shaking” on command.

Of course, the earlier you start teaching “shake” to your dog, the better. We started with this command from Day One — because their first day in our house was also the day they got their first bath.

Bear in mind… since it takes dogs a little longer to actually “work up” the energy to perform a good full body shake, you’ll have to be patient and give him enough time — both mentally and physically — to go through the motions of shaking on command.

Perhaps the hardest part is those times, during the bath, when your dog is loaded up with soap suds and gallons of dripping water and he THEN decided to do the “shake”! Just remember… don’t scold him or discourage him in any way — even though you’ve just received a free shower.

Now, they’ll pretty much “shake” on command anywhere, anytime. (…after looking at you for a second or two like, “Are you serious? You really want me to go through this whole ‘shake’ thing? Cuz I’m not really feeling the urge to ‘shake’ right now.”)


Why This Is A Great Dog Trick

This particular command (or dog trick) has been valuable to us at the following times:

Our dog, Destin, after he's just rolled on the ground and is now covered in snow.

  • when they’re dripping wet from a bath — indoors or outside
  • when their fur is full of freshly fallen snow
  • after they’ve just been bathed, and there’s a lot of loose fur that’s fallen out
  • when they’ve just rolled in something
  • after they’ve just been brushed, and there are a bunch of loose flyaway hairs