Did you know dogs can wink? Well, if you’re here, you probably did – but did you know they can do so before you tried searching online for the answer to the burning question: Why does my dog wink at me?
Dogs can wink – in fact, they do this quite commonly. Most of the time, winking is an intentional dog behavior that can mean many things. This, however, might leave you wondering, What does it mean if my dog winks at me?
If you’re trying to get to the root of this behavior, you’re in the right place. Not only will we answer the question, Why does my dog wink at me? but we’ll also talk about the few occasions when this behavior might be a sign of certain health issues.
Why Does My Dog Wink At Me – What Do We Think?
Winking is a gesture we humans can interpret in many ways. When we wink, it can even be flirtatious!
If you wonder, Why does my dog wink at me? don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that your dog likes you in that way – not like most people would ever think of that. However, we usually understand winking as a sign of affection.
If you’re someone who loves to wink, you might even think that your dogs are mimicking you! Sometimes, we also think that dogs do this because we laugh at them, so they’re seeking attention.
Dog owners tend to give their pets human traits, which is why there can sometimes be a miscommunication between a dog and its owner.
Why Does My Dog Wink At Me – The Truth
As mentioned before, there are several answers to the question, why do dogs wink? – and not all are what you might think at first glance.
Here are several possible meanings behind a dog’s wink:
They Are Happy
Winking can actually mean something similar for both humans and dogs. For example, winking might mean that your dog is happy.
One of the ways our furry friends tell us they’re in a good mood is by quickly closing and opening only one eye. And yes, they do so because they know that you’ll feel happy after you see them do this.
Many dogs, such as Corgis, Bulldogs, or Chow Chows, are known for their affectionate behavior towards their favorite human. These dog breeds are known to express their happiness to their owner by winking at them.
Happy winking is usually followed with a relaxed body language that includes floppy ears, a soft gaze, wrinkle-free forehead, a relaxed body, and a slightly opened mouth or a dog smile.
Yes – some dogs can smile, but they don’t do it for the same reasons we do.
Through hundreds of years of domestication, dogs have learned to pick up some of our behaviors as a means of communicating with us. This has even led to changes in their facial structure.
One of these changes is the development of a specific muscle on the dog’s face that isn’t found in the dog’s wild cousin and ancestor, the wolf.
This muscle is responsible for the most well-known face a dog can make – the so-called puppy face, also known as puppy eyes.
There is a good reason behind the development of this muscle. If a dog shows you a puppy face or a smile, he knows that his chances of getting a treat are increased. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as no dog lover is immune to such a cute facial expression.
They Want To Play
Similar to winking out of joy, some dogs might wink because they’re in the mood for some fun. An energetic dog might also wink to let you know he is ready for playtime.
You’ll know that your dog is excited because he’ll express many specific behaviors, such as barking, blinking, squinting, or even sneezing! They’re also likely to do the play bow.
The play bow is that gesture you see a dog make as a clear invitation to join in on the play. Canines do the play bow to let another dog know that they want to play and that they aren’t aggressive.
A play bow means your dog will put his front legs firmly on the ground, bow, and raise his rear end with a happy wag.
They Imitate You
The most common reason a dog owner would ask themself, Why does my dog wink at me? is because their dog has suddenly started expressing this new behavior.
Many times, we forget to look at ourselves. Lots of people love to wink at their dogs as this is an everyday gesture to them, and they don’t realize that their dog has noticed that.
Dogs are intelligent creatures capable of remembering several actions that their human family members make. For example, some dogs even know how to ring a bell!
Unlike many other animals, dogs can remember human behavior and not copy it right away. In fact, they can often wait for up to 10 minutes before repeating the gesture. They’ll also be able to do this even if other things draw their attention away in the meantime.
Dogs rely on their owners for most everyday things. As such, they know they have to observe everything humans do, as this can help better the communication. Many dogs even get our mannerisms and behave in a similar way we do. Not to mention that dogs consider us their role models!
There are some gestures dogs do to let other canines know they don’t pose any threat because they don’t want any conflict. Some of these gestures are averting one’s eyes and blinking.
If you know some basic things about dog communication, the following shouldn’t be a surprise.
If a dog stares directly into another dog’s eyes, this is a sign of aggression – and this usually doesn’t end well.
However, when a dog is blinking, he is, in fact, breaking eye contact. This is his way of calming his conversational partner down and letting him know that everything can be solved in a calm way. This is also a good sign of submission.
Because of this, you might sometimes see your dog winking when you raise your voice at them or when they realize you’re not in the best mood. A dog that blinks lets you know that everything will be alright and that there’s no need to raise the tension.
They Want Something
Dogs cannot talk like we do, and they cannot speak to us in a way we can understand perfectly. To make up for this, they’ll try communicating in any way they can, including barking, making gestures with their paws, or touching you with their muzzle.
Another way of talking to us is winking – and dogs will often blink to let you know they want something.
This can be very effective, as humans can rarely resist a dog’s wink. This might mean they’re looking for food, water, or even walks. Whatever it is, your dog will try to let you know.
If you suspect your dog is winking because he wants something, try to look at the rest of the dog’s body language. If he’s pointing you to his food bowl, he probably wants more food. On the other hand, if he brings you his leash, then he wants to go for a walk.
They Are Thanking You
Sometimes, you might notice your dog winking at you after a walk or after you’ve given him a treat. This is because winking can also be a sign of gratitude.
Your dog loves you, and he is extremely grateful to have you in his life – especially when you’ve done something nice for him, such as feeding him or taking him for a walk.
A grateful dog might also show some signs of excitement, such as tail wagging or having that excited look. This can especially happen if you give them attention or acknowledge their gratitude.
They Are Relaxed
You might notice your dog blink very slowly from time to time. This can even end with one slow wink.
Slow blinks are a sign that your dog is laid-back and relaxed. Winking means they are extremely comfortable. This is why they’ll usually wink in such a manner when they are close to you.
However, on a certain occasion, this might also mean your pooch is tired. This isn’t that bad type of tired we might think of, but rather tired in a content and soothing way.
Most of the time, your dog will wink for this reason after a long training session or playtime.
They Trust You
If you want to know the answer to why do dogs wink at you? it can also mean that they trust you and consider you a person they can rely on.
Dogs know that when they close their eyes, they are more susceptible to danger. When they blink or wink intentionally, this means they feel safe.
So, next time you’re wondering, Why does my dog wink at me? give him a hug because chances are he’s telling you you’re a good person to be around.
They Want Attention
Of course, all dogs can sometimes be a bit mischievous. They’ll do things out of the desire to get what they want. Usually, this is your attention.
Dogs know that when they imitate human gestures, their owners will love them and praise them. They want to get a reaction out of you, and winking is likely the easiest way to do so.
Think about it. Did you laugh when you first your dog wink, call your best friend, or pett your doggie and give him a hug? If you did, this was a signal for your dog that winking will bring him positive reinforcements.
Another clue for this is if your dog winks more when you give him more attention or if you’ve been very excited about his new expression.
Something’s Irritating Their Eyes
Unfortunately, dogs don’t always wink for happy reasons. Sometimes, this is caused by a health problem that makes him close only one of his eyes.
A dog’s eye is protected by eyelids that keep foreign objects away. If dirt, a grain of sand, or a strand of hair gets into the dog’s eye, the winking is simply a part of a reflex action. The dog’s eyelid is closing to protect against further damage to the cornea.
Unlike humans, who have two eyelids, dogs have a third eyelid as well. This third eyelid is hidden, and you might only see it when he is sleeping. This might even make you think his eyes are rolling back!
If you’re standing in the wind and your dog starts winking or blinking excessively, there is likely something in his eye.
Also, maybe your dog scratched his eye, which is then the reason behind their blinking.
Sometimes, winking is a spasm caused by a foreign body stuck in the dog’s eyelids. This can be glass shards, metal bits, or even grass seeds.
There are some signs of possible foreign bodies in the dog’s eyes that you should look for. These include:
• Swollen eye
Having a foreign body in the eye isn’t rare for dogs. First off, their third eyelid means that there is one more eyelid for particles to stick to. Also, dogs love to put their snouts everywhere!
If you notice a foreign object on your dog’s eyeball, try cleaning it with saline solution. Most of the time, dogs will be able to deal with it on their own. However, if you fear the foreign body is in too deep, you should contact a professional for help. Leaving something in the dog’s eye untreated can lead to many complications.
Squinting can look a lot like a wink, and chances are we’ve confused the two. If a dog squints several times, there might be something wrong.
Dry eyes occur when the dog’s tear glands don’t produce enough tears. This means that nothing can lubricate the dog’s eye, drying it out.
There are several things that could cause dry eyes, such as an autoimmune disorder, hypothyroidism, as well as some medications and pills.
When an adult dog’s eye is dry, you’ll notice that his cornea is cloudy, painful, and sometimes even red.
While this sounds counterproductive, dry eyes can be followed with a thick discharge.
Dry eyes can usually be cured with antibiotic eye drops and false tears. However, it would be wise to take your pup to the vet as soon as possible.
Did you notice your dog not just winking but also keeping his eye close for a prolonged period of time? This might mean that he has a scratch or some other form of injury on his eye.
Many of these injuries are rather small, which is why they often go unnoticed. However, if you don’t treat it in time, you can end up with an infection. As it progresses, even younger dogs might lose their sight.
Some of the signs you should look for include squinting, excessive winking and blinking, and green or yellow discharge.
Eye injuries should be dealt with by a professional vet. However, there are a few things you can do beforehand.
Cover your dog’s eye with a clean cloth and wrap a bandage that will hold it in place. This will keep your dog from scratching it and worsening the injury. You can also put an Elizabethan collar on them. There are many good ones on sites like Amazon.
Entropion is a medical condition that causes the dog’s eyelids to roll inwards. This makes lashes touch their cornea, which isn’t pleasant. The reason you might have a winking dog is that he is in pain.
The exact cause of entropion is unknown, although some researchers suggest it is a genetic condition, as it is more common in some dog breeds, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, and even Miniature Poodles.
The only way to fix entropion is to take your dog to the vet, who will perform surgery to fix his eyelids.
Blepharitis, also known as blepharospasm or swollen eyelids are usually a symptom of some other health conditions, such as tumors, infections, allergies, congenital abnormalities, and inflammatory disorders.
Blepharitis can cause a dog to squint, which can be mistaken for a dog winking. It is more common in dogs with long and narrow muzzles compared to breeds with short noses.
Just like with entropion, the only way to deal with blepharitis is to have a vet perform surgery on the dog’s eyelids. However, until this is possible, you can regularly get rid of any discharge and apply a warm compress for about 15 minutes daily.
A corneal ulcer is another eye problem that can make a dog squint, which will look like a wink. It can be caused by eye trauma or dry eyes.
Having just one tiny break on the surface of a dog eye can quickly progress and cause serious harm to your dog. This is why you must treat this condition as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it might even lead to cataracts.
Glaucoma is abnormal eye pressure that older dogs are prone to. It causes fluid buildup in the eye, making a dog squint or wink.
Glaucoma usually isn’t noticeable at first. The first signs include eye enlargement and dilated pupils. Early detection, which is essential for curing the condition, isn’t always possible. This is why it’s important never to miss medical check-ups when you have an older dog.
Finally, your dog might have conjunctivitis. This is inflammation of the conjunctiva, a tissue that covers the eye.
This is a painful condition that causes eye discharge. It can also make your dog sneeze or cough.
Most health problems we’ve talked about can cause conjunctivitis. However, if conjunctivitis doesn’t have an underlying cause, it can be easily cured with oral medications and eye drops.
So, What Does It Mean When Dogs Wink At You?
Photo from: @maxmaltezeric
As you can see, there are many possible answers to the question, Why does my dog wink at me? From gratitude to a health problem, a dog can wink for many reasons.
Every dog is an individual, and temperament and behavior can differ greatly even between canines that belong to the same breed. As such, always follow the rest of your dog’s body language.
Most of the time, winking is simply a cute little gesture our dogs make to make us happy. However, on rare occasions, it can be a sign of a serious eye problem.
Always contact your local vet if you suspect your dog is in pain or suffering from any health issue.