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Why Do Dogs Wink?

    One of the perks of being a dog owner is constantly laughing at the funny things your pooch does. Whether they mean to or not, dogs can be so amusing when imitating human behaviors and often times we reward them for doing so. Among all of the tricks a dog can do, winking in probably one of the most appreciated ones.

    There can be numerous reasons to why a dog is winking at you and it is for you to understand what your dog is trying to tell you. Dogs are very skilled communicators, but what they are trying to convey doesn’t always correspond to what you would expect.

    To avoid misunderstandings and have a better relationship with their pooch, dog parents should have at least a basic knowledge of pack behavior. Winking for a dog can have many different meanings and being able to identify the right one for your pooch can be very important for his well-being.

    Dogs Wink To Seek Attention

    One of the reasons your dog blinks at you could be to ask for your attention. It is not unusual for dogs to seek the attention of their owner. They often go next to their human parents and do things to get their attention, like for example putting their head on them, bumping them with their nose, scratching on the door if they want to go out, etc. Winking could be just another way they found to communicate with their owners and ask them for things. This is especially true if, after they have winked, they receive some kind of reward, which could be a treat or even a pet. This positive response from their owner will make them understand that this behavior is appreciated and they will probably perform it again.

    Dogs Wink For Submission

    One of the most efficient ways dogs have to communicate with each other is through eye contact. When two dogs look each other in the eye, they are trying to establish who is the dominant one. Usually, after a few seconds the more submissive dog will stop starring at the other one and hierarchy is established. If instead neither dogs look away, a fight will start to establish who the leader is. Luckily for all dog owners, this doesn’t happen when a human looks a dog in the eye. Dogs understand that humans are not threatening to them, so they often look back at their owner. In some occasions, after they have looked at their human they blink as a sign of submission, because they want to make it clear that they know who the leader of the pack is.

    Dogs Wink To Imitate Humans

    Dogs are renowned to be very smart and capable of mimicking human behaviors without too much effort. If you are used to winking at your dog when you play or when you look at him, he has probably understood that this is a good behavior to have and he is just performing it for you. This happens with many behaviors and if you have noticed that your pup does other things when you do them, like yawning, standing up, or sleeping, then you know that blinking is just another one on the list. Dogs are very good observers and they like to please their owners and get a reward, so if you have the habit of winking, your dog will probably have it too.

    Dogs Wink If They Have A Health Issue

    All of the reasons for winking we have seen up to now are not in the least concerning and they should be quite appreciated by a dog owner. In some cases, though, if you see your pooch winking repeatedly, it could mean that there is some kind of problem you must look further into. There are two main conditions that can make a dog wink; these are Entropion and Blepharospasm.

    Entropion is a health issue that develops when the eyelid closes inwards and the eyelashes rub against the cornea. This condition can be very painful for a dog and can cause the scarring of the eye. If not treated properly, it could lead to the dog loosing his eyesight permanently. If you suspect your pooch has Entropion, you must take him to the vet as soon as possible, since surgery is the only way to restore the correct functioning of the eyelid. This condition can be seen in any dog, but it is most common in brachycephalic breeds, that have short squashed noses, like Chow Chows and pugs.

    Blepharospasm is instead a neurological disorder that causes the involuntary movement of the eyelid. It can start as something that happens in rare occasions, but it often progresses until it gets very obvious. In severe cases, the dog might not be able to open his eye and could finish up having limited vision. If you notice your dog is winking excessively, it is important to take him straight to the vet and have him checked.

    Another health issue that can make your pooch blink is an irritation due to allergies. Dogs can be allergic to specific plants and if they go near them with their eye, this can give them a reaction that can make them blink repeatedly. Usually, if the blinking is caused by an allergic reaction, the dog’s eye will start to water as well. Even in this case it is important to have your pooch checked by a professional as soon as possible, to avoid any further pain or discomfort.


    As we have explained above, understanding why a dog is winking can be more difficult than expected. In the majority of cases, if your dog winks there is nothing to worry about, because it is just a way to communicate with you or seek your attention. It can also be a way of letting you know that he respects you as the leader of the pack or that he is trying to imitate what you do in order to have your approval.

    In some rare cases, though, if your dog is blinking, it may mean he has an underlying health issue. If you are used to communicating with your dog, you should be able to understand if his blinking is due to discomfort or if it is just a normal behavior. However, if you suspect a possible clinical condition, a trip to the vet is always a good idea.