Watching your Doberman shake and act nervous is unsettling for most owners, as we immediately think “what’s wrong?”. There are several reasons why Dobermans may shake, tremble and act anxious which I’ll explain further below. I’ll also highlight the best ways to resolve this behavior.
Anticipation, boredom & frustration, and being cold are the most common reasons why Dobermans shake. Additional reasons include stress and anxiety, excitement, age, or feeling uncomfortable in their environment.
7 Reasons Why Your Doberman Is Shaking
As I get this question a lot, not only from Doberman owners but from owners of all different breeds, I decided to speak to my local veterinarians and dog behaviorists to get some official answers. On top of that, I spoke to Dobie owners who have successfully dealt with this issue in the past. Here are the main seven reasons why your Doberman is shaking…
1. Anticipation of daily events
Waiting for routine events is perhaps the most common cause of shaking and trembling.
Dobermans quickly get accustomed to their routine and will automatically know when certain events are coming up.
Events like dinner time, when you typically take him for a walk, train him, come home from work, and more… Any event that usually happens at the same time, your Dobie will start anticipating it.
Just before these events happen it’s not uncommon for Dobies to shake with excitement and general nerves. This isn’t really anything to worry about and is a normal response from most sensitive breeds.
2. Boredom & frustration
Another cause of shaking and nerves is being bored, understimulated, and frustrated (all lumped into one).
Although shaking isn’t exactly a typical reaction to being bored and frustrated, it’s actually more common than I thought. This is particularly true when boredom progresses into frustration…
Dobermans are highly active and crave both physical and mental stimulation to release their large tank of energy. While most owners get the physical exercise part right, many admittedly slack with mental stimulation. Providing your Dobie with sufficient mental stimulation is the secret to a calm, relaxed, well-behaved Doberman.
Dobermans that are sufficiently stimulated will not have a sense of boredom or frustration.
Related article: When do Dobermans calm down? (the truth)
3. Being cold
Despite their muscular build, Dobermans feel the cold easily.
Dobermans have a short single layered coat (apart from around their necks) and therefore struggle to keep themselves warm during winter and cold spells.
Shaking/shivering is an automatic response whereby the muscle fibers rapidly contract and relax in order to generate kinetic heat for the body.
If you live in a cold region then this could very well be the cause… If you’re reading from southern California, likely not!
4. Stress & anxiety
Heightened levels of stress and anxiety are another very common cause of shaking and trembling. Unfortunately, just like us, our canine buddies are easily vulnerable to stress, and it can be caused by a wide range of things.
If your Dobie’s shaking seems very constant and unexplainable (after confirming their daily needs are met) then it could suggest underlying stress or anxiety issues.
The difficulty here though is pinpointing the original cause.
One of the biggest contributors to stress and anxiety is being left alone too often or too long (or both). Next after this, would be not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation, or enough of your attention in general.
Any Doberman owner knows, that this breed is a very sensitive one. It’s best to consider your Dobies overall routine, daily life, and be honest if any areas could be improved.
It’s very common for dogs to shake when they reach their golden years.
If your Dobie is over seven years old, they are considered to be reaching their senior years, and this could very well be the reason.
It could be that old age is bringing on some underlying health issues, or the tremours could be completely benign and nothing to worry about. This is why it’s always important to schedule routine vet appointments, and call your vet should any other negative symptoms be present.
it’s also worth noting that Dobermans in their senior years will also feel the cold more than their younger self.
In addition to the seniors, we have the pups. Puppies (under 6 months) are also known to shake and shiver. This is partly due to the fact that puppies are unable to regulate body temperature like adults can, and will therefore shake more often to keep themselves warm.
Puppies are also little bundles of energy waiting to explode, meaning excitement and anticipation levels are usually sky high in pups.
6. Enviromental issues
As well as being sensitive to their routine, Dobermans are highly sensitive to their environment.
Any disturbances in their close and immediate environment can certainly cause them enough nerves and anxiety to shake.
Disturbances can range from having new neighbors move in, people walking past the house, new noises and smells in the neighborhood, new construction work taking place, and more…
We must remember that Dobies are natural guard dogs and protectors, so if they sense anything unusual or just “new” in their close environment it can cause them unrest.
This may even happen inside the home too. If your Dobie senses anything unusual going on with family members (weird behavior or depression) this would cause extra stress and nerves.
7. Medication & Underlying health issues
Last but not least, we have medication and underlying health issues.
It’s well known that a wide range of health issues can cause shaking and tremors.
Infections, canine arthritis, or other injuries can sometimes cause enough pain and discomfort to cause shaking. Additionally, if your Dobie is in pain you will likely see other symptoms aside from shaking including vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, and even vocalized distress.
Underlying health issues like kidney disease, distemper (typical in puppies who haven’t been fully vaccinated) GTS which stands for Generalized Tremor Syndrome is also common among young dogs and the causes are still mostly unknown.
In addition to health issues, a wide range of medications can also have side effects of shaking and trembling.
Ultimately, if your Dobie is showing additional symptoms like explained above, it’s definitely best to call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment. If your Dobie is an otherwise happy energetic adult, then thankfully it’s unlikely to be health issues at play.
Related article: Doberman exercise guide (full information)
Getting Your Doberman To Stop Shaking (everything considered)
So, what’s the best way to stop your Dobie from shaking and acting so nervous. Let’s run through the steps below.
Identifying the causes and providing a solution.
If you have a good idea as to what’s behind your Dobermans shaking, then you are better ready to address the cause directly and see if the quick changes will help.
Is your Dobie receiving at least 60-90 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise per day? If his exercise is lacking then it’s worth increasing it. A good tip is to split his exercise up to 45 minutes in the morning, and another 45 in the evening. This is best to keep their pent-up energy at a minimum.
Is your Dobie receiving at least an hour of dedicated mental stimulation? This comes in the form of many different things from training, socializing with other dogs and new people, puzzle games, and even general interaction… Be honest and consider whether your Doberman needs more mental stimulation.
Being left alone:
If your Doberman spends many hours home alone every day (5 or more) then it’s time to make some adjustments to make this easier. As this topic is both complex and important, I already have a detailed article about it. If this is the case for your Dobie then this really could be the issue, so it’s worth checking out. Doberman home alone article.
If your Dobie seems to only shake shortly before the lead-up to big events (exercise, feeding time, partner arriving home) then it’s likely nothing to worry about. While it’s ideal for them to remain calm, some amount of nerves is completely normal. If you still wanted to tackle this, then the best solution is to provide more stimulation and distractions before the timings of these significant events.
Overall lifestyle and daily needs:
While thinking about the above factors, it’s also important to take a step back and consider your Doberman’s overall life and routine. Is it possible that your Dobie is stressed or anxious about something? How much attention is he receiving from his owners every day? Does he receive training and adequate stimulation? Evaluating his overall stress levels (as best you can) is crucial to do. If you identify any areas of his life that could use some improvement, be sure to make the appropriate changes.
Seniors and shaking:
If your Dobie is over 7 years old and shaking, it’s worth considering a vet check-up just to be sure. Usually, if no other symptoms are present like food refusal, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or fatigue then it’s likely everything is fine. But keep in mind with seniors, it’s always best to be proactive and waste no time if you have an inkling this could be a health issue.
Related article: Why Your Doberman Whines So Much: 6 Reasons & What To Do
Meeting Your Doberman Basic Needs (Check List)
Although I’ve covered this sporadically throughout, I thought I would clarify and list everything here for convenience.
What a Doberman needs every day:
- 60-90 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise (ideally split into two sessions)
- At least an hour of mental stimulation (training & socialization)
- Plenty of interaction and quality time spent with their owner
- A calm environment with limited disturbances outside
- To not be left alone for long periods of time (5 or more is pushing the limit for most dobies)
- Playtime and fun games throughout the day (preferably with owners involvement)
- A high quality diet tailored for active working dogs (that they get along with)
- Adequate time spent outside in general (whether from walks or in the yard)
If we as owners ensure the above is met with flying colors, then our Dobies will be calm and relaxed, resulting in limited nerves and anxiety.
Should You See a Veterinarian?
If you’ve tried a few things to no avail, then it could be worth scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian. But first, let’s consider a few things…
If your Doberman is an otherwise healthy adult (2-7 years) that is displaying normal behavior (other than shaking) then it’s likely nothing serious.
Health issues usually come with other symptoms like food refusal, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, and unusual behavioral changes…
Still, I do believe that there is not a wrong moment to call your veterinarian. If you are worried or can’t seem to stop the shaking then calling your veterinarian is the best thing to do.
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