Skip to Content

7 Surprising Reasons Why Your Dog Sighs When Cuddling

Why Does My Dog Sigh When I Cuddle Him Or Her

Your dog suddenly becomes cuddly.

And you heard him letting out a little sigh.

Does he want to cuddle only? Or is he trying to tell you something?

You’re about to find out:

  • 7 reasons why your dog sighs when cuddling.
  • What it means when sighs are accompanied by other noises.
  • Certain health conditions which one of the symptoms is sighing. 
  • And much much more…

Why does my dog sigh when I cuddle him/her?

Your dog sighs when you cuddle him/her because they’re enjoying your touch. They might also feel relaxed after they’ve been fed. Sighing can be a symptom of respiratory problems too. It’s possible that they’re tired or bored. Or, they may need your attention or affection.

7 reasons why your dog sighs when cuddling

#1: Your dog’s relaxed

You might’ve played together. Then fed them their favorite chicken or turkey meat. 

Your pooch may let out a sigh to show they’re content with life at the moment. 

When you play with them and feed them, you’re making them feel secure. They feel happy in their environment.

C’mon, you deserve a pat on the back for fulfilling their needs so they can survive. 

You also share “cuddle” hormones when you snuggle. 

Note: Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle” hormone. Our body releases these hormones when we engage in physical contact with our loved ones. Oxytocin makes us feel happy.

So when you hear that sigh before they sleep, know that they’re relaxed. This is more likely after you feed them. Or after your fun playing session.

You can also see some physical signs.

Dr. Kass-Williamson says your dog is content when its ears are up and forward. The mouth is slightly open and they’re lightly panting.

Also, their eyes are soft. The lids are relaxed and sometimes look like they’re squinting.

Their body posture isn’t tense or stiff.

#2: Your dog’s ill

Another reason why your pooch might sigh is that they’re sick. They’re feeling pain and discomfort.

Sighing is a symptom when they’re having joint pain. As well as breathing problems. They’ll also grunt when they can no longer take it.

Older dogs are susceptible to joint issues. They can have tendon strain and muscle soreness.

It should concern you when you wake up to these sounds.

Sometimes sighing is also associated with respiratory problems. 

Such as:


Your Dog Sighs When Cuddling Due To Bronchitis

It can either be acute or chronic.

Acute bronchitis refers to the temporary inflammation of the airways. The culprits are the infections caused by viruses and bacteria.

It becomes chronic when the symptoms last for longer than 2 months. 

At this point, it becomes worse for canines. It’s not only inflamed. It becomes narrow and congested. As a result, the air can no longer reach the alveoli.

Note: The alveoli are where oxygen passes into your dog’s bloodstream. 

Chronic bronchitis can lead to permanent damage.

Here are the common symptoms of bronchitis in dogs:

  • Fever.
  • Lethargy.
  • Gagging.
  • Dry cough.
  • Excessive mucus.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Spitting foamy saliva.
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge.


Asthma doesn’t affect humans only. Canines can also suffer from it.

This is another condition that limits the airflow in and out of your dog’s lungs.

Dr. Sarah Wooten says that small dogs are more prone to asthma than large dogs.

It’s triggered by inhaling allergens such as:

  • Dust.
  • Pollens.
  • Perfume.
  • Air pollution.
  • Air fresheners.
  • Smoke from cigarettes.

Caution: Dogs with asthma are difficult to calm down. 

Bronchitis and asthma almost share the symptoms. But you’ll notice blue-tinged gums in asthmatic dogs. They may also lose weight.


Bacterial pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia in dogs. 

It’s caused by a bacterial or viral infection in their respiratory system.

The bacteria can be transmitted from an infected dog to another dog. Especially those that have weak immune systems. Even those that are very young or old.

Pneumonia can be treated and dogs recover well. But if left untreated, symptoms will become severe.

Such as:

  • Coughing.
  • High fever.
  • Dehydration.
  • Runny nose.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nasal wheezing.
  • Irregular breathing.
  • Difficulty exercising.

Remember: Dr. Sara Ochoa says that your dog might have a respiratory problem when any of the mentioned symptoms accompany the sighs. 

#3: Your dog’s imitating you

Did you know that dogs are natural imitators? 

Some creatures imitate others that are the same species. 

Humans imitate other humans. Birds mimic other birds. Apes and monkeys also imitate others that belong in their group.

But dogs don’t only imitate other dogs. They also imitate human actions. 

Maybe you sighed before your dog did.

Dr. Woodnutt pointed out that humans and dogs are partners in evolutionary journeys. Dogs have learned skills to communicate with us. 

But the interesting part is that they copy your actions even if they don’t benefit them.

But how?

There’s a study about automatic imitation in dogs. Canines were trained to open a sliding door in two different ways. The dogs were required to imitate both demonstrations for a reward. 

There were two groups of demonstrators. The first one consisted of the dog parents. And the second of random people.

The dog parents demonstrated opening the door with their heads. While the other group demonstrated opening the door with their hands. 

The dogs were more inclined to copy what their humans did. So the canines opened the doors sing their heads instead of their paws.

In this case, the research team suggests that humans shaped this imitative behavior. It’s because of the developmental interactions.

Like your pooch responding to your yawn with a yawn. Or sighing in response to your sigh when you cuddle. 

It reflects your bond, which has been developing over the centuries.

Dr. Woodnutt added that sometimes no one knows if they’re empathic or just copying us. But either way, it’s comforting.

Here’s a cute video compilation of dogs imitating their humans in different ways:

#4: Your dog’s enjoying your touch

So you decided to cuddle with your dog after playing fetch.

You’ve got plenty of time and did some rubs on their belly. Then you noticed your pooch sighing.

You wondered if you were doing the right thing.

Good news! Sighing could be a sign of happiness. (Celebrate!)

Especially when you’re scratching their belly or behind their ears. 

You’ll also notice their subtle groans. (If they did, then you really have to celebrate. I’ll tell you why).

It means that they’re enjoying the kind of touch you’re giving them. And they want you to keep going.

Dr. Nelson tells Reader Digest that when a dog is comfortable exposing its belly, it implies that they trust you. She added that a comforting human touch is a great reward for them.  

Your dog’s sigh when you’re rubbing their belly is like them saying, “I feel loved and comfortable”.

There’s nothing to fret about when they lie with eyes closed on your chest. It’s a sign of contentment and they’re exactly where they want to be.

So let them indulge in your gentle touch to make them feel loved.

Note: Some dogs hate it when you hug them. They could squirm out of it because hugs make them feel threatened. 

But they’d love a scratch on the top and back of their head. As well as the area behind their ears. 

#5: Your dog’s bored

Leslie Brooks says that a dog may sigh out of boredom.

They might be looking to get outside and use up their energy. 

Your dog probably spends the day napping and snuggling with you. And their instinct is telling them that they need to play and socialize.

They might also bark at you. 

Boredom barking is repetitive and monotone. 

#6: Your dog’s tired

Tired Dog

Did your dog have a very busy day? Did you go for training and playing sessions with other dog buddies? 

Kate Connell, a dog trainer says that training your dog would wear them out far better than a walk. The same goes for play dates with other canines.

When they’re tired, you’ll notice them slowing down. Then, during training, they’ll wander off and look for an escape.

They’re telling you that they’re done with the session and ready to go home.

But have you heard of the saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog”?

It doesn’t mean forcing them to do activities to the point of being unsafe and unhealthy.

Instead, it’s about giving them the right amount to prevent boredom. And also to burn off excess energy.

After a long day with these fun and learning activities, your dog may sigh as a sign they’re out of energy. 

They may also sigh when gearing up to rest for the night. You’ll notice when you snuggle or sleep next to each other. 

Note: Sleeping on the side is a common position when your dog is tired.

Being tired or sighing after a productive day is nothing to worry about. As long as you’re following a routine and you’re giving them the right amount of exercise.

#7: Your dog needs affection/attention

What’s the difference between affection and attention?

Dr. Nelson defines affection as a gentle feeling of fondness. Or being loved/liked. 

Showing your affection to your dog can be by:

  • Petting.
  • Kissing.
  • Stroking.
  • Cuddling.
  • Snuggling.

Attention means regarding someone as important. 

These are the kind of attention that you can give to your pawed pet:

  • Playing.
  • Walking.
  • Feeding.
  • Training.
  • Exercising.


Okay. So your dog is snuggling against you. But you have no free hand to give rubs. 

Maybe you’re busy with your phone. Or your attention is on the book you’re reading.

Your pooch may sigh to get your attention to play with them. They may let out this little sound to remind you that it’s time for belly rubs.

Dr. Nelson also points out that it’s important to establish your bond by showing affection. All dogs need interaction. But they’re different in terms of their needs.

Some dogs are more independent. They’ll take what they need. But it doesn’t mean they always need the affection you want to give.

While some dogs are happy to receive rubs and scratches.

She said knowing your dog’s personality helps in determining how much affection they need.

Here are some other signs that your pooch needs some affection:

  • Play-biting.
  • Pawing at you.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Howling like a wolf.
  • Rolling on their back.
  • Chewing on your items.
  • Nudging you with their nose.


It might not be the affection that your dog wants. 

Sighing is accompanied by whining or howling when they need something. 

Maybe you forgot to feed them because you’re enjoying the book too much. 

It can also be that your dog wants to go for a walk. And they want to play with other animals. 

In short – they’re trying to tell you that they need physical and mental stimulation.

Consider whether you’re spending enough time with your furry friend. Remember, they depend on you for their health and well-being. 

You must ensure that your pooch is happy by scheduling playing sessions. As well as feeding them at the right time. Help them exercise and stimulate their mind when needed.

According to ASPCA, these are a few dog necessities:


It’s their source of energy. It helps them grow and provides the nutrition that their body needs.

A combination of animal and plant foods make them stay active throughout their life.


Your dog needs water to keep them hydrated. It becomes more important during hot months as it cools them down.

Water is needed to make their bodies function. As well as for their living cells.


Grooming keeps them clean and healthy. Some grooming tips that most furry parents overlook are trimming the nails and cleaning the ears.

Cleaning your dog’s ears reduces the chances of ear infections. And trimming the nails reduces the risk of developing bone deformations.


Helping your dog engage in exercise will reduce behavioral problems. It also helps to make their bones and joints stronger.

When they exercise, they become active. You’re helping them prolong their lives and reduce the risk of obesity.

Your dog’s own space

They need a safe space where they can go to sleep and rest. When guests come over, your dog needs to have a comfortable spot.

There should be a place where they can withdraw if it’s too noisy or uncomfortable for them.


Giving them chew or puzzle toys helps to stimulate their mind. While you’re gone, these help fight boredom and stress.

These can also be helpful to prevent your pooch from chewing inappropriate objects.