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Cocker Spaniel Shaking & Anxious: 7 Reasons & What To Do

Is your cocker spaniel shaking and acting nervous?

It’s something many spaniel owners contact us about, so we’ve created this article to explain why, and how to help.

If your cocker spaniel is shaking it’s likely caused by the following:

  • Anticipating daily events
  • Getting excited
  • Feeling too cold
  • Young or old age
  • Routine or environment changes
  • Pain
  • Underlying health issues

We’ll explain all of these in detail below before talking about how to best resolve the issue.

7 Reasons Why Cocker Spaniels Shake

cocker spaniel shaking

Below are the seven most common causes behind a shaking cocker spaniel. Shaking usually only has one cause, but on rare occasions, it could be a combination of them.

And of course, identifying the cause is crucial to solving the issue. It’s necessary to consider all recent events, your spaniel’s daily routine, and general well-being to help identify the correct trigger.

1. Anticipation

Cocker spaniels get overwhelmed with anticipation easily. Daily events from feeding times, walking times, to when you usually come home… Any event that takes place at the same time can trigger anticipation shaking.

This is extremely common in most breeds with average-high intelligence. There usually isn’t anything wrong with anticipation shaking, but as I’ll explain below, there are still ways to tackle it.

If your cocker spaniel only gets shaking/anxious just before specific events each day, it’s likely to be for this reason.

2. Getting excited

Similar to anticipation, getting excited for any reason is enough to cause shaking and trembling.

Perhaps you’ve come home with a new toy, or are showing your cocker spaniel extra attention. This excitement may be too much for them to handle and they’ll shake temporarily until calming down.

This kind of shaking will likely only happen for obvious causes like when playing, visiting new places, around new dogs or people.

3. Feeling too cold

Another legitimate cause of shaking is feeling too cold. And cocker spaniels are certainly vulnerable in cooler weather.

In this case, it’s technically called shivering. Which is done involuntarily to create heat within the muscles and body.

If you’re experiencing a cold winter or your house is particularly cold, then this could definitely be the cause of shivering in your cocker spaniel.

4. Young or old age

If your cocker spaniel is a puppy (under 1) or a senior (over 8 years old) it’s hard for them to efficiently regulate their body temperature.

It’s known that very young and old dogs feel the cold more so than adults. Shivering will be the result in order to keep them warm.

Shaking is extremely common in puppies and usually isn’t anything to worry about.

5. Routine or environmental changes

If your cocker spaniel’s daily routine or close environment has changed, this can be enough to cause excess stress and nerves, resulting in shaking.

Everything from moving homes, new neighbors, new animals or smells in the neighborhood, to losing or gaining a new person in the home…

Anything to do with a dog’s routine and environment can greatly impact their stress levels.

6. Pain

If your cocker spaniel is suffering from any kind of pain, either short-term or chronic, then this could be causing them to shake.

Many times our dogs are in pain without us actually knowing about it. While this is very hard for us to diagnose ourselves, it helps to always be on the lookout for unusual symptoms or signs that something isn’t quite right.

7. Underlying health issues

Similar to the above, health issues may also cause your spaniel to shake.

Health issues including kidney disease, distemper, and GTS, which stands for Generalized Tremor Syndrome is common in young dogs. All of which can cause shaking.

Admittedly, a wide range of health issues can cause many unusual symptoms, shaking being one of them.

Due to this, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian if your spaniel is shaking without an obvious reason, or if you notice additional symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, unusual behavior.

Ways to Stop Your Cocker Spaniel From Shaking

In order to properly stop the shaking, it must be tackled at the source. Finding out the cause will mean thinking about recent events leading up to the shaking behavior.

Has anything changed?

Consider daily routines, local environment, people at home, your spaniel’s daily routine, your general schedule, and absolutely anything else that has changed from what’s normal.

If owners can make adjustments to the trigger, then it’s advised to do that and watch the shaking carefully to see if it reduces.

Tips to reduce anxiety and nervousness in cocker spaniels:

  • Keep your spaniel in a quiet calm room throughout the day (especially if left alone)
  • Ensure she receives enough exercise first thing in the morning (release pent up energy)
  • Keep her daily routine consistent (feeding, walking, training, playing)
  • Keep her mentally stimulated (training, socialization, puzzle toys)
  • Ensure she is eating her meals
  • Ensure she has regular vet visits for general checks (bi-yearly)
  • Ensure she receive enough quality time from her owner

These tips will help keep a cocker spaniel happy, calm, and content. All of which should reduce general nervousness and anxiety.

Some things are harder for us to address than others, for example moving homes or getting new neighbors, we can’t do much about this other than make our spaniel feel as comfortable as possible.

When Shaking Isn’t Anything to Worry About

If you only notice your cocker spaniel to shake before meal times, or when you’re actively engaging with them, then there’s likely nothing to worry about.

Anticipation shaking, and shaking from getting excited is completely normal. It’s even a sign that your spaniel is fully alert and responsive to her surroundings, which is of course a good thing.

Cocker Spaniels In Cold Weather

Cocker spaniels do not have double coats, meaning they are more susceptible to feeling the cold than many other breeds.

Feeling a little too cold could result in the shaking, so it’s important to keep your spaniel in a warm dry room throughout the winter.

When out on walks, use a water-resistant dog jacket to keep in some body heat. If the temperature drops below 5C (40F) on a windy rainy day, it’s best to stay inside.

Should You See a Veterinarian?

There’s never a wrong moment to consult your veterinarian about an issue with your dog. So if have reason to believe something is wrong, do not hesitate to call them.

If your spaniel is shaking for no obvious reason, then that’s already enough to give them a call should you suspect something is wrong.

Moments contacting your veterinarian is advised:

  • Your spaniel is showing additional symptoms
    (vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, unusual behavior, food refusal)
  • Your spaniel has been shaking for a while (more than a week)
  • The shaking cannot be explained with a non-serious cause


It’s usually for our dogs to shake at some point throughout their life. Many things can cause shaking, trembling, nervousness and anxiety.

It’s crucial to consider the causes, and spot any changes in either your routine or your dog’s routine to identify the correct trigger.

If you’re having a hard to managing or resolving this issue, do not hesitate to contact your local veterinarian.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.