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Why Does My Dog Wink at Me?

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

People wink at each other all the time when they want to communicate affection or approval of something. Some pet owners have gotten surprised when they looked at their dogs to give them a wink, and they winked back!

Ever wondered if they were aware of the fact that they winked and they wanted to send you a message? Or if you’ve noticed that your dog winks and it looks like they’re doing it in excess, maybe it worries you.

There are a variety of motives that contribute to your dog winking at you.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why our furry companions wink at us.

So, Why Do Dogs Wink?

Dog wink

For the most part, a dog will wink at its owner to show that they are happy, as a submissive act, or if they are imitating you. They also do it unintentionally sometimes.

If you feel that they’re doing it too much and you think there’s an underlying medical problem, pay attention to when it happens. They may have an eye problem that requires treatment from a veterinarian. 

Related Article: Why do dogs scream?

Why Does My Dog Wink at Me?

Many pet owners have thought their dog was attempting to tell them something with their eyes. Go figure!

We, humans, talk to our dogs all the time with verbal commands and gestures. Our dogs respond to us with different noises and gestures of their own.

We’ve learned some of the signals so that we can properly care for our furry babies when they need us. When we see them tapping their paws on the door, we know they want to get outside.

When they let their heads in our laps, we know they want us to give some attention. If we’re around our dogs long enough, spending time with them, we’ll grow to know what they’re saying.

What Does it Mean When a Dog Winks at You?

After centuries of domestication, our dogs have learned to imitate us to the T. They also use their facial expressions to let us know that they need something. They copy our behaviours as well, evolving into the dogs we love.

Submission

Dogs give eye contact with other dogs to show that they are being dominant and aggressive. Just before they fight, two dogs will stare each other down first. Unless one of the dogs breaks contact, symbolizing submission, there’s sure to be an intense fight.

When your dog stares at you, they don’t want to fight, they want acknowledgement. So if you don’t turn away, they’ll look away, or wink instead.

They are submitting themselves to you, and they wink to show that they don’t want any problems but to maintain the peace.

Happiness

Angry dogs aren’t exactly playful; however, a submissive dog will be playful and will have an apparent desire to have fun.

Generally speaking, the happier your dog is, the more they will tend to wink at you. Moreover, there are other signs to look for along with winking to make sure that your dog is happy.

Imitation

Another possible reason for the winking may be that your dog is imitating your behavior. Dogs are observant and very intelligent. Moreover, they can begin to mimic their owners increasingly the more time they spend with them.

The mimicking is usually with subtle behaviors that may go unnoticed by you. It can be something as simple as resting when you rest, sleeping when you’re sleeping, or even getting excited because you’re excited. These behaviors can develop into the beginning to imitate little gestures as well.

If you happen to wink at your dog frequently, they may notice this and begin imitating the behavior. Imitation is more evident in a home where there’s more than one dog. That is because younger dogs will always follow the older dog’s lead.

A dog’s ability to imitate other dogs can be beneficial when trying to train new behaviors in dogs. For example, rescued dogs that have gotten subjected to abuse are reintegrated back into loving homes through the help of adult dogs.

After the rescued dog accepts the adult dog as a dog worthy of being followed, they will learn to pick up on the good behaviors of the adult dog while dropping the bad behaviors that they learned from being abused.

Tip: Be sure not to confuse winking for blinking. Sometimes there’s something in your dog’s eye, such as gunk that needs to get cleaned out.

What if I Think My Dog Is Winking Too Much?

If you feel like your dog is winking too much, it may be a sign of a genetic condition called entropion. Entropion is where your dog’s eyelid flips inwards towards the eyeball, which causes it to get irritated.

Entropion can be very painful and if left untreated, can lead to ulcerated corneas and even blindness. If you notice that your dog is weeping, sore, winking, or blinking excessively, contact your veterinarian right away.

Can I Train My Dog to Wink?

Train to wink

There are ways that you can train your dog to wink at you on command if this is something that you desire to do.

The way that this gets achieved is by using behavioral shaping training.

Behavioral shaping is a useful tool that takes advantage of the fact that dogs love to please their owners. This concept is extremely helpful because it allows you to mold your dog’s behavior.

Behavioral shaping utilizes many steps to teach your dog to perform a new behavior. By breaking the behavior down into easier and more achievable steps, you’ll spend the learning process and limit the frustration and confusion.

Moreover, as your dog continues to learn more behaviors through the help of positive reinforcement, they will begin to enjoy training and it can become a source of joy and fun for the two of you.

Final Thoughts

Why do dogs wink? Winking is usually a harmless behavior used to gauge the happiness of your beloved pet. Winking is often a sign of happiness or even a sign that your dog has begun to imitate your behaviors. In these cases, the winking should be encouraged as it is a sign that your dog is engaged with you.

On the other hand, if you find that the winking is excessive, this could be a sign of a genetic condition called entropion. In a case such as this, you’ll want to contact your vet as soon as possible. Leaving this condition unchecked can lead to blindness.

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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