Why Does My Dog Wink At Me?

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why does my dog wink - a cocker spaniel winking

So you’re asking yourself “Why does my dog wink at me?” From a scientific point of view and without making it too complicated, it could be entirely possible your dog winks at you because he or she thinks you’re cute 😉

Kidding aside, winking or blinking is thought to be 1 of around 30 Calming Signals that a dog uses to communicate with other dogs and humans. Our dog, Watson still winks at me occasionally as he’s done since he was a puppy. As a good dog owner, I always wink back, of course. 

What Are Calming Signals?

In the wild, dogs survive by staying in packs and maintaining peace is essential to their survival. Dogs use Calming Signals to appease those around them. 

If you’ve owned a dog long enough, you’ll notice your pet has certain quirks like shaking its body in certain situations, licking its nose or even smiling. These are Calming signals and this is how dogs communicate universally among all dog breeds. 

Humans use eye contact to appear trustworthy and polite. Dogs don’t see it that way, though. 

Dogs interpret staring by a human or fellow dog as rude and an act of aggression.  In response, a dog may blink or wink to break the stare and to show that it means no harm. More often than not, a dog will choose to yawn and look away to appear non-threatening which is the most common form of Calming Signal. 

As dog owners, it is important to recognize these signals. Ignoring them can be frustrating for dogs and sometimes even make them aggressive. 

What To Look Out For

One thing to keep in mind, though, if your dog keeps winking or blinking,  it could be suffering from a condition called Entropion where its eyelids flip inwards towards its eyes. The eyelids can scrape against the eye itself and cause damage. This is more common in dogs that have short snouts.  If you suspect this is the case, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible because this condition can create enough damage to the eyes to cause blindness. Some dog breeds are more prone to Entropion than others. 

Watch out for:

  • Rubbing of the eyes
  • Mucoid discharge
  • Tearing

How To Teach Your Dog To Wink

If you want to be popular among dog owners in your area or have a cool party trick, here’s an easy way to teach your dog to wink.

  • Try to do this between meals when your dog isn’t too full so your dog is more receptive. 
  • Grab a handful of high-value treats.
  • Make your dog sit. 
  • Say a trigger word like “wink” or “Hey Cutie” it could be anything.
  • Gently touch your dog’s whiskers on the side that you want your dog to wink. This will make your dog naturally close its eyes on that side as a reflex. Give a treat as soon as your dog winks IMMEDIATELY and not a second later. 
  • After a few tries, you may notice your dog winking before you touch the whiskers. Give a treat as soon as your dog winks
  • After a few tries,  your dog will wink when you say the trigger word without even touching the whiskers just by seeing the treats. 
  • You can teach your dog to do this trick with or without a clicker. 

Now you know why your dog winks at you. Please share this post with fellow dog owners 😉

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8 thoughts on “Why Does My Dog Wink At Me?”

  1. Haha, I’ve definitely wondered why my dog seems to wink at me every so often.  How cool!  I am going to start winking at both of my dogs now and see if I can get them to start doing it.  I also have some questions about holistic treats that you might recommend as training aides? 

  2. All Skin Care Talk

    I truly believe that we underestimate animals, and how smart they actually are. One of my neighbors has a dog which is always in an aggressive state. Unfortunately, growing up we never had a dog so the thought of a dog winking actually never crossed my mind. As well as, being unaware of calming signals which from now I will let my neighbors know as they could be ignoring them which is making their dog aggressive. Thank you for sharing this information, it’s true that everyday you learn something new!

    1. I’m really glad you found the article, useful. Yes, please share it with your neighbors. Thanks for commenting

      Sonny

  3. Our dogs winks often, never knew it was a calming sign. It’s great to know that our dog feels comfortable enough to be able to do that. He’s quite the rambunctious little but can calm himself down without too much trouble. I like that you shared how you teach your dog to wink. I’m going to have to take more notice of those in our dog. 

    1. Thanks for commenting, Jagi. Sadly, most dog owners don’t recognize calming signals to their dog’s detriment

      Sonny

  4. A winking dog. Now that’s an absolutely cute trick. I would have loved to teach my dog that trick, but he’s not around anymore. It seems to be an easy trick to teach a dog. I love the idea of my dog winking back at me. I may teach my sisters dog to wink after this self-quarantine is done.I really love this rick, especially around women…LOL.

    Courtney-

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