Why do dogs wink?

Why do dogs wink?

A wink is a facial expression in which one eye remains open, while the other is shut for a short period before opening again.

It should come as no surprise, that adult dogs may wink for reasons other than acknowledging that they know something we don’t.

 It’s really cute when a dog winks, but excessive winking or staring can indicate some underlying health problem with their eyes, that may require medical attention from a vet. So, let’s find out what it means when a dog wink.

Why Does a Dog Wink?

The simple answer to this query is that your canine friend might wink for a number of motives. This includes showing that they are content with you or due to a medical difficulty.

Benign Reasons Why Dogs Wink:

Benign Reasons Why Dogs Wink:

1: Human Imitation:

Dogs had learned many forms of human behavior from when they were first domesticated.

Dogs are quite intelligent and have been known to imitate the various things around them. And before it even gets to the winking stage, you’ll often notice that your dog mimics other more obvious human behaviors.

The most common ones among many dogs, include running when their owners run and sitting when their owners sit.

2: Sign of Happiness:

We already pointed out that, a dog staring at you and holding your gaze is likely trying to be aggressive. However, we also mentioned that when it doesn’t fit that gaze for more than a couple of seconds, it implies that the dog is submissive.

Now, picture this – how many aggressive dogs out there would want to play? Aggression is marked by tension, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Therefore, no aggressive dog would be disposed to play. That means when a dog is staring straight into your eyes, it’s likely not happy. But when it winks, the dog is playful and wants fun.

Winking is so associated with happiness that a playful dog will usually wink repeatedly at their owners. That is especially true when you wink at the dog, and it winks back at you.

3: They can be submissive:

Eye contact may indicate a sign of aggression and dominance between dogs. However; if your pet stares at you, it doesn’t mean they want to fight with you.

As you stare back, they can wink at you or look down. The wink of your dog breaks the stare to keep the peace. 

4: Eye problems: 

It is cute when your dog winks at you, but you may not know it. This can be a problem with the eyes. Some eye problems can make a dog wink just one eye.

Some of these can be serious and mild, so you don’t need to worry.

You can seek the advice of a professional veterinarian. The following are the common eye problems that can make your dog wink. 

  • Dry eyes (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) 
  • Entropion 
  • Glaucoma 
  • Pink eye (Conjunctivitis) 
  • Other eye irritants 

5: Keeping the peace

Just like humans, dogs also communicate through body language. For example, we consider eye contact a sign of politeness, but that is not the case among dogs.

As dogs stare at each other, the one that keeps eye contact longer is dominant. So, if you stare at your dog and they wink at you, they want to keep the peace. They know you are the leader of your home.

Can you teach your dog to wink on command?

Winking is a trick you can teach your dog, but as with other commands, it should be positively reinforced with a reward. Suppose you want to make winking happen on order or more often. Using behavioral shaping training is a decent idea. If your doggo winks you back or imitates your eye movement, use treats as a part of positive reinforcement training.

Make sure to eliminate the physical touch and let your dog feel a sense of accomplishment and joy when you teach them to wink on command. Before you know it, they’ll wink at you regularly!


In summary, winking behavior in dogs is another way our furry friends can communicate with us. It likely means that our dogs are friendly and feel happy or content. Winking may also be used to strengthen social bonds or as a way to gain attention from humans. However; in some cases, winking may also be a sign of eye irritation or discomfort and veterinary treatment should be sought to prevent any long-term ill effects. 

FAQ Section:

What Is the Best Way to Respond to A Dog’s Wink?

The best way to respond to a dog’s wink is to wink back! This signals to the dog that you are non-threatening and wish to maintain a peaceful relationship.

What does it mean when your dog makes direct eye contact with you?

Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. Mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, the love hormone. This chemical plays a vital role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.

Why does my dog sometimes wink at me?

“Winking can be a sign of affection, that the dog is at peace, seeking attention, or possibly mimicking their owner if this is an action they do frequently,” Conrad says.

How do you make a dog wink?

  1. Touch your dog’s whiskers on the side of his muzzle, on the same side of his face you want him to wink with.
  2. He will automatically blink that eye. Could you give him a treat?
  3. Keep practicing until he starts to wink before you can touch his whiskers.

What happens if you stare into a dog’s eyes?

Staring at a dog won’t teach him you’re dominant; he’ll think you’re being rude. While 90% of dogs will disengage from a person staring—they don’t want trouble—the other 10% will likely engage.

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