Like us, dogs make facial expressions, including winking. Winking is where one eye shuts for a brief moment and then opens again. When we humans wink at another person, it is usually to show affection, share an inside secret or spark a laugh. But why is your dog winking, and what does it mean?
Dogs wink intentionally to show affection, happiness, or a desire to get your attention. It can also be a sign of submission. Your dog may wink to mimic you or because they have something in their eye. Excessive dog winking can be a sign that they have health issues that require veterinary treatment.
If you want to figure out why your dog is winking at you, watching your dog’s body language is a good indicator of what is happening.
Here we explain the various reasons why you may notice your dog winking at you and what it means.
Why does my dog wink at me all the time?
Nothing is cuter than when dogs wink at you, but why is your dog winking and is it normal?
The main reasons that your dog winks are:
- Happiness: Most adult dogs, when happy, display physical behaviors like barking, tail wagging and jumping, along with an adorable doggy smile. A playful dog will often wink when they feel happiness, which pet parents adore. If you treat your dog well, feed it properly and spend time with them, you can expect to see your beloved pup wink at you more often!
- Attention: When seeking attention, dogs display a high wagging tail and erect ears, and you may see the dog winking as an attempt to communicate with you about what they want. Many dog breeds like to be with their owners 24/7 (Rosie certainly does), and when you are not paying attention to their needs, your pet winks to let you know.
- Submission: If you make eye contact with your dog and your dog stares back at you, you will usually see your dog either look down or wink after a few seconds, which shows they acknowledge you as the leader and don’t want any trouble. You will also see a dog wink as a sign of submission to other dogs. When two dogs meet, the less dominant pup winks to show they know their place in the hierarchy.
- Imitation: You often see a dog wink because of human imitation. Like us, dogs are copycats and copy other dogs and what we do too. Dogs are intelligent creatures who learn by observing and repeating physical behaviors. They mimic their owners and family members to feel part of the pack . If you frequently wink at your dog, it will soon learn to imitate you, and you will notice your dog winking at you. These actions are a sure sign your dog loves you and wants to be close to you!
- Something in their eye: One of the main reasons your dog winks is because they have something in their eye, like dirt, dust, pollen or some other debris. Like us, dogs produce tears to lubricate their eyes. When debris gets in their eyes, you will see your dog blink intentionally to produce more tears. These tears remove the debris and make your dog’s eyes more comfortable. If your dog does have an eye infection it is best to consult with your veterinarian about the best course of action. You could also invest in an eye patch – check out our top dog eye patch recommendations here!
Can dogs wink on command?
Dogs love pleasing their owners, and you can train your dog to wink by using behavioral shaping. Work in a quiet space where your dog can focus and make eye contact with you to understand what you want.
The first step is to touch the whiskers on your dog’s left or right eye, until it makes a facial expression. Once you have made your dog wink, you can give the command “wink” each time you see your pet winking.
Using positive reinforcement methods makes your training effective, so always praise immediately as soon as you see your dog is winking at you on command, followed by a tasty treat.
Giving praise and treats will encourage your pup to wink more often, and it is a cute party trick that any dog lover will enjoy!
Is it normal for dogs to wink?
It is perfectly normal for dogs to wink as they are trying to convey a message to their owner, whether that is happiness, a sign of submission, attention or simply imitating you.
After living with humans for over a thousand years, canines have developed ways to communicate with us, in return for food and love.
But unfortunately, when a dog winks excessively, it is a cause for concern and is sometimes associated with health issues.
Can dog winking be a sign of health issues?
If you notice your pet winks excessively, especially in the same eye, then there is a cause for concern as it could be health issues associated with the eyes.
One such condition is Entropion, a genetic disorder often associated with dogs with plump faces and short noses like bulldogs, Pugs and Chow Chows. It causes involuntary blinking, excessive winking and squinting, and effects how the dog sees.
This genetic condition is a deformity, whereby the dog’s eyelids roll inwards, rubbing against the surface of the eyeball and causing immense irritation, pain and discomfort to the dog. Both the upper and lower lid of the dog can be affected.
If left untreated, Entropion causes corneal ulceration, leading to cornea scarring and can even lead to permanent eye damage. You often see this eye condition in young pups, and surgery is usually required.
Schedule a visit to your veterinarian if you notice your dog blinking or winking excessively and have artificial tears, whereby there is a permanent stain around the fur surrounding the dog’s eyes.
Another health issue where a dog winks excessively is Blepharospasm, known as eye twitch. Possible causes can be foreign particles, allergies, or corneal ulcers. Other signs include blinking repeatedly, squinting and the dog constantly rubbing the eyes.
The treatment for Blepharospasm depends on the underlying cause, but usually, eye drops are not enough, and most dogs with this condition require surgery.
Winking is perfectly normal in healthy adult dogs and is not only cute, but often indicates your bond and closeness with your dog. However, understanding your pet’s body language is crucial for behavioral reasons and identifying possible eye conditions, especially if you notice excessive winking.
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