My whippet shakes and trembles when he is stressed or nervous. This is not unusual for the breed, but I am looking for ways to help him.

If my voice is at all stern, he casts his face down and looks up at me with sad eyes and he quivers. Even when I try to reassure him with my voice and a pat, it can make it worse!

I bought him from a breeder at 14 months (as he grew too tall for the show ring). He was sent up on a crate in a plane on newspaper, and I met him at the airport. I checked for advice from the breeder, but didn't get any useful feedback.

Does anybody have some experience or expertise with this to help us?


In a word "Pavlovian".

From experience:

I used to share a home with a bullmastiff, Misty. For a number or reasons, Misty had to be outside during the day while everyone was at work. She had a nice dry dog house and blankets, but as short haired dog, I imagine it still got cold on occasion.

Sometimes her teeth would chatter, like a person does when they are cold. I often felt guilty about making her go out in the cold. If there was snow on the ground and she had to go out to go pee, her teeth would sometimes be chattering when she came back in.

Then it got to be spring and then summer, hot in the house and hot outside too. Once or twice a week in the dead of summer, the call to go outside would result in chattering teeth.

I realized it was not the temperature outside that made her teeth chatter, it was the association of one thing to another. In this case there was a pretty clear association. But the association is not always clear.

Pets like people often come into our life with a little baggage (in the emotional sense). Do your best to continue to provide a stable and loving relationship, remind yourself that whatever your pets life was like before, it much better now. Maybe the shaking will go away and maybe it won't, but as long as both you and your dog know that you are both doing your best...


I have noticed this behavior in other whippets. The ones that I have seen often walk around with their tails deep between their legs and not making eye contact. I'm not sure what causes this, though.

Does the dog respond when you pick him up? Smaller breeds like this often feel comfortable when they are in the arms of their owners (though the whippet needs a lot of exercise overall and doesn't make a good 'lap dog').

I often make jokes about the informercials, but the "thundershirt" or more generically the (gentle) squeezing techniques that Temple Grandin came up with for cattle might help to make the animal feel more secure.

As with any behavioral issue, though, check with a vet before making any drastic changes in your pet's regimen. There may be something in the animal's upbringing that make him even more skittish.

  • +1 Thundershirt advocate here! Stops my nervous dog from his perpetual trembling, but you can't use it 24/7. – JoshDM Oct 13 '13 at 17:24

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