Why Do Dogs Wink? What Does It Mean?

Why Do Dogs Wink? What Does It Mean?

Are you having closer chats and conversations with your dog often? Then have you ever noticed that your dog is winking at you as a response to your glance at him? Wait! Is it for real? Can dogs wink like humans? Ah, it may surprise you.

If you ever noticed this winking of your dog, you’ll know how cute and lovely it is. It is surprising how your dog learned to wink and the meaning he depicts through his winks.

However, since dogs are the closest friends of humans, they learn many things from us, and they have more close habits similar to humans. Many people raise the matter, ‘why do dogs wink’ since it is interesting to identify the meaning of their winking.

Actually, why do dogs wink, and what does it mean? Winking is a facial expression associated with eyes, and it is done by closing an eye by opening the other. There are several reasons for your dog to wink at you. Your dog may wink at you to show its happiness, submissive nature, as well as take your attention. In addition, they wink as an imitation of your behavior. Moreover, there can be some health reasons too behind their winking. If they excessively wink, you have to take him to the veterinarian and follow the necessary medical treatments. 

At the end of this article, you may be able to identify what the winking of dogs means together with the human winking. Then, let’s understand why do dogs wink and what it means with the reasons for it.

Next, you’ll get to know about the reasons for excess winking of your dog and what you should do in such a situation. Finally, I’ll provide you with some tips to train your dog to wink.

If you are obsessed with the cute winking behavior of your dog, then read this article, and it may sound interesting to you.

What is the winking of dogs?

If you are a dog lover and an owner of a pet dog, then you may have several unique behaviors with your dog. You may have several techniques and means of communication with your dog through your voice, sounds, commands, and body language.

In that sense, you may notice that dogs too may have their ways to communicate with us through their gestures, barking, and sounds. So, if your dog winks, it can also be a means of communication for them.

What is winking? Winking can be simply described as a facial expression associated with eyes. In winking, one eye closes while opening up the other. This winking happens after closing eyes and before opening both of them again.

People wink for several reasons, like showing affection, laughing, signals, or sharing secrets. There are winking emojis, and now people can wink in live conversation and virtually chat. 

It is surprising what the winking of dogs and why do dogs wink. Similar to the people, dogs too wink with closing one eye and opening another. It is interesting to see dogs wink, and it’s cute and funny.

My dog, Shaggy, winks at me when I’m having evening chats with him, and it’s such a glad to see that. You have to stay close and be with them to notice their winking.

Since we can’t read our pets, it is impossible to understand the true meaning of their winking. But we can guess the reasons why they wink towards us.

Why do dogs wink?

As pet parents of dogs, when you notice the winking of your dog, then you may exactly have the matter, why do dogs wink. There can be several reasons and meanings for their winking.

Here are some reasons that I noticed with my dog’s winking. 

1. To show the happiness

Similar to humans, dogs too wink at their owners when they are happy. They’ll wink at you to show off their happiness with fun and enjoyment.

It will be a sign of requesting fun and play. Humans too wink sometimes when they are in a happy mood. 

2. To exhibit their submissive nature

Even though humans do not wink to show off aggression, dogs are different in that case. They use eye contact to express their aggression and dominance.

According to communication between dogs, we can notice that they wink at each other before starting a fight.

Similarly, they will stare at you, and then with your response deciding to wink you back, it shows that they are submitting towards you and making you dominate over it. The winking here is a kind of peace agreement with you.

3. Imitation

Since dogs are the closest friends of humans, they have many similarities in their behavior to humans. At the same time, they prefer to imitate their owners.

Dogs are intelligent, and they learn things easily. Therefore, they’ll capture their owner’s behaviors easily and start to imitate them. If you, as the owner, wink a lot at your dog, they too will start to wink you back a response.

The imitation ability of your dog may make it easy for you to train him, and imitation of its winking will make it fun and enjoyable. 

4. To take the attention

Dogs love to stay with their owners, and they are always seeking love and attention from you. So they use winking as a tactic to take your attention towards them.

Some dogs repeatedly wink as responses to your glance at them to make their appearance cuter and take your response and attention more.

5. Health matters

Sometimes your dog’s winks may be a result of health issues in their eyes. There can be irritation from physical items such as hair, dirt, or a chemical.

If not, there is an eye issue with the name of entropion, which results in eyelids entering the eye surface due to their inward nature of flips.

When their eyes hurt due to any condition, they may start to wink due to pain. So, if it seems like a winking due to health conditions and pain, then make sure to take your dog to a veterinarian. 

What if my dog is excessively winking?

Since we already discussed why dogs wink and the meanings behind it, now you can understand in which instances your dog may wink?

So, in addition to the above-mentioned factors, what if your dog may wink excessively and continuously?

Rather than your dog’s tactful and enjoyable winking, if it winks too much and it seems that it faces difficulties in its eyes, you need to take necessary precautions.

If there is excess winking, blinking, and red eyes can be witnessed, then you should check whether there are some physical irritations such as eyelids or dirt affecting your dog’s eye. If not, there can be some chemical infections due to shampoo or detergent.

In addition, excess winking can be a result of a genetic matter named entropion. In that condition, eyelid flips of your dog are created inward into the eyeball, and it irritates the eye of your dog. This situation is really painful, and due to that, your dog may wink continuously.

Excess winking is not an issue that should be ignored easily. If the right precautions and medications are not taken, then your dog may face blindness and other eye-related diseases.

Therefore, if your dog winks continuously, you should take it to the veterinarian and follow the necessary medications immediately. 

How to teach your dog to wink?

In the process of finding answers for the matter of why do dogs wink, then most dog owners prefer to know how to teach their dog to wink.

Since it’s cute and loving to see your dog wink at you, pet parents are trying to teach winking to their dogs and make it in command or as a response.

It will be nice to see that cute facial expression of your dog whenever you need to see it. You can follow some ways to train your dog to wink, and here are some of them that I used to train my dog, Shaggy.

1. Show your dog how to wink

Your dog can know or not how to wink already. But in teaching them the winking behavior, you have to first do it and show what you need from your dog.

Just express how to wink by closing one eye while opening the other and let your dog understand that you are trying to train him to wink. 

2. Train to imitate

Dogs are smart and intelligent. So, they are excellent at imitating their owners. Train your dog to follow your expressions and train him to imitate what you do.

Then he will capture your winking and start to follow it. Imitation is the best and easy way to train your dog on winking.

3. Train in smaller steps

Do not try to teach the dog to wink for the first time and first training. Try to follow step-by-step procedures and follow smaller steps that make your dog grab it easily.

Smaller steps will make the communication effective between you and your dog during the training.

4. Rewards

Rewarding is one of the best ways that make your dog easier to train. You can encourage and praise your dog’s success in learning and practicing winking by giving him rewards.

These rewards can be his favorite food, like cookies or meat, and some new toys for it. Dogs love rewards, and they get motivated from them. 

5. Practice it regularly

The best way to teach your dog to wink is to practice. The more you wink at him, will persuade it to respond by winking to you.

Practice winking with your dog and allow him to respond to your winks with his back winks. Then it will become natural between the two of you to wink at each other, and you may find it lovely. 

Final thoughts about dog’s winking

Now, with the knowledge you gathered through this article, I think you have got a clear understanding of why do dogs wink and what does it mean. If you haven’t noticed your dog’s winking yet, then try to observe it and try winking at him and see whether it winks you back or not. You’ll love their cute winking and surely need more and more winks from them.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it answered your burning questions about your dog. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts.


  • Dominic Parker

    Dominic P. is a dog behavioral researcher who graduated from the University of Surrey and holds BVMsi (Hons) in Veterinary Medicine and Science. He has been around dogs since childhood and has unconditional love for dogs. It makes him become a researcher instead of practicing as a veterinarian. Dominic enjoys his work and likes to share his findings with dog parents to give them a better understanding of dogs’ behaviors.

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