A wink in humans is often a friendly gesture.
It can be used to incite laughter, indicate a secret, flirt, or say “I got you!”
But what does it mean in doggy land?
Are they doing this to be cute?
Keep reading to find out:
- What makes your dog wink at you.
- Whether they do this intentionally or not.
- If they’re aware of their own facial expressions.
- Possible dangers if they close their one eye excessively.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog wink at me?
Your dog winks at you because they’re happy, being playful, imitating you, avoiding conflict, demanding something, showing their gratitude, relaxed and comfortable with you, or seeking your attention. But if they wink excessively, this can be due to irritation, a foreign body, or an eye problem.
19 reasons why dogs wink at you (with one eye)
#1: Your dog feels great
Winking has a lot of meanings in the human world. But did you know that it’s the same for our furry friends?
One possible interpretation of it is that they’re in a good mood.
If your dog does this and they don’t seem in pain, they might be doing great physically and mentally.
So have no fear as they’re only spreading happiness. Which I can say is very effective as one simple wink will cure your sadness.
Not convinced? Watch this:
“But how can I tell if my pooch is indeed happy?”
Keep an eye for these things:
- Soft gaze.
- Floppy ears.
- Wrinkle-free forehead.
- Loose and relaxed body.
- Smile (or a slightly open mouth).
Do you ever wonder if canines are aware of their facial expressions?
A study reveals that they indeed make use of them and it’s all due to domestication.
Within the 33,000 years of living with humans, they have developed this skill to communicate with us. And it also altered their facial structure.
Yes, the same researchers found that dogs have a specific muscle. And this isn’t found in wolves – their ancestors.
This causes the raising of eyebrows movement which results in a sad look. Or what we call ‘puppy eyes.’
They know that using this secret weapon will make their begging effective. As well as getting some positive reactions from people.
Because well, who can resist those sparkling adorable eyes?
#2: Your dog is ready to play
Given that your pooch does this out of joy, they’re likely to be in the mood for some fun as well.
And aside from winking, an energetic dog may also do a lot of:
The last one is a clear invitation to play which canines do to show others that they’re ready for some action.
They’ll put their front legs down on the ground and raise their rear end.
So next time they do this, consider it as a:
“Let’s go, hooman!”
“I’m so ready to play!”
“Please throw the ball for me.”
You might also like: 13 Amazing Reasons Why Your Dog Headbutts You + 3 Tips
#3: You’re a ‘winker’ yourself
You may be wondering where all this winking came from. When you yourself do it every time to your pooch.
“Wait, can dogs mimic their humans?”
Yup! Research discovered that they’re able to remember an action made by their parents. Like ringing a bell or walking around a bucket.
What’s more interesting is, they could wait for up to 10 minutes before copying the gesture. And they’re also able to do it with distractions – having other activities at the same time.
But it’s no surprise that pet dogs can do this. They observe everything we do as they rely on our cues for communication.
So it’s possible that they’ll also get some of your mannerisms.
Reading tip: Why does my dog sleep under pillows?
#4: Your dog is avoiding conflict
“Hey, chill down…”
Have you ever heard of canines’ calming signals?
According to experts, they do these gestures to let other dogs know that they’re not a threat.
Winking, along with blinking and averting one’s eyes, is one example of it.
This is because in Fidos, staring directly means you’re challenging someone up for a duel. So breaking eye contact will be a polite way of saying,
“Don’t worry. I come here in peace.”
And your dog may do this when you’ve raised your voice at them. Or when they sense that you’re not in a good mood.
Check out also: 11 Incredible Reasons Why Your Dog Bites Your Nose + 7 Tips
#5: Your dog asks for…and they know you’ll understand them
“Hooman, give it to me. *winks*
You know that thing…. *winks again*
Come on, you know what I mean, right? *wink intensifies*”
Obviously, Fidos couldn’t tell you exactly what they need.
So, they’ll use anything they can to convey it. Say their paws, eyes, snout, and even barking.
But every dog has different tricks up its sleeve. And your pooch might find winking pretty effective.
They could be asking you to feed them, refill their bowl with water, or walk them outside.
So, take note of the other signs they’re showing. Like pointing their snout or leading you somewhere.
#6: Your dog says thanks
After eating and taking a walk outside, your pooch gives you a relaxed wink.
It could be that they’re showing you their gratitude.
Your dog is full as you’ve fed them a delicious meal. And you’ve also given them a nice walk outside and let them do their ‘business.’
So wink back and say “you’re welcome.”
Who knows, they may start coming to you with a wagging tail and an excited look. And this is because you’ve finally acknowledged their appreciation.
#7: Your dog feels relaxed
In other cases, canines might also do a slow blink.
“What does it mean?”
It’s usually a sign of a calm and laid-back pooch. So if they wink at you, it means that they’re comfortable around you – their human.
However, they can also do this to tell that they’re tired. But, in a happy and content way.
So you may notice this too after a fun playtime or a training session.
#8: Your dog trusts you
A wink can also be a sign that they think of you as a reliable person.
Your pooch feels comfortable with you. So they know that they’re safe by your side. And it’s because they believe that you won’t do them any harm.
You two have a deep connection and it shows in your dog’s gestures.
Don’t forget to check out: 9 Amazing Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps With Its Back To You
#9: Your dog seeks attention
Some canines might also wink for one ulterior motive…
And that is to get your attention.
With their imitation skills, they’ll surely learn this in no time. And they’ll do it more if they receive good reactions from people – especially from you.
Their winking may have caused laughter, giving of treats, and petting. And there’s no doubt about that.
Researchers also backed this data with their findings.
They found that dogs don’t only use facial expressions to show their feelings. But also to communicate and get what they want.
Plus, the more attentive their human is, the more expressions they’ll show.
#10: Something irritated their eye
There are also times when dogs wink as a reflex.
Same with humans and other mammals, their eyelids protect the eyes from foreign bodies.
So they’ll automatically close if there’s a grain of sand, dirt, or a strand of hair in it.
If they’re winking with one eye, a draft of air might be hitting it. Or it’s irritated after being poked or scratched accidentally.
Fun fact: Did you know that dogs have 3 eyelids? Humans only have 2 while other animals like fishes and snakes don’t have any. The 3rd one is usually hidden and you’ll only notice some of it in the corner of their eye.
#11: Foreign bodies under their eyelid
Your dog’s winking might also be a spasm.
This can be caused by a foreign body that’s stuck in their eyelids. Say grass seeds, glass shards, or metal bits.
So if your pooch has any of these, you may notice other signs such as:
- Swollen eye.
This isn’t rare in dogs. They love exploring so they may put their snouts in places which they shouldn’t.
Not to mention that the air has these tiny particles as well.
Note: You can remove these by clearing their irritated eye with saline solution. But if they’re way too deep, let an expert take them out for your dog’s safety.
For further reading: Why does my dog look up at the ceiling?
#12: Dry eye
You might have also mistaken their squinting for a wink.
And if they do this many times in a row, there could be something wrong already.
“But what can make them partially close their one eye?”
There are many reasons. First is a condition called ‘dry eye.’
This happens when they have trouble producing tears to lubricate their eyes. Hence the name.
An issue with their immune system can damage their tear glands. As well as hypothyroidism and medications.
As a result, they’ll have painful, cloudy, and red eyes. And this often comes with a thick discharge.
PDSA says that this is more common in breeds like:
- Shih Tzus.
- American Cocker Spaniels.
- West Highland White Terriers.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Note: There are treatments available for this such as antibiotic drops and false tears. So there’s a chance to bring their eyes back to normal if cured as soon as possible.
#13: Eye injury
Does your pooch keep their one eye closed for a long time and also paw it?
You may not notice it, but there could be a scratch in there. And if left untreated, it can result in an infection. Or worse, loss of sight.
So have your dog checked by a vet if they show these symptoms:
- Blinking excessively.
- Avoiding bright lights.
- Discharge (green or yellow).
But before going to the clinic, do these first:
- If you see a scratch, PetMD says to cover it with a clean cloth.
- Next, wrap a bandage around their head to hold it in place.
- To avoid them from rubbing their eyes, cover their claws with a bandage. Or put an Elizabethan collar on them.
Canines may also wink excessively due to abnormal eyelids.
This condition causes them to roll inward. And because of this, their lashes touch their eyes.
“What are the culprits of this condition?”
The exact cause of entropion is unknown.
But according to VCA, it’s inherited. And dogs who are likely to get this are:
- Shar Peis.
- Shih Tzus.
- Great Danes.
- Saint Bernards.
- Basset Hounds.
- Siberian Huskies.
- Golden Retrievers.
- Labrador Retrievers.
- Toy and Miniature Poodles.
Note: If your pooch has this, their eyelids can be fixed through surgical correction.
Are your dog’s eyelids swollen?
And do you see hair loss, flakes, and small bumps around their eyes?
If so, their squinting could be due to blepharitis.
This is caused by:
- Inflammatory disorders.
- Congenital abnormalities.
Specialists say that this is mainly observed in dogs with:
- Flat faces.
- Bulging eyes.
- Noticeable facial folds.
- Long and narrow muzzles.
For example, Pugs, Collies, English Bulldogs, and Chinese Shar Peis.
Note: Surgery is needed to correct their eyelids. But to ease their discomfort, getting rid of any discharge regularly will help. As well as applying a warm compress for up to 15 minutes every day.
This is an eye condition where one eyeball shrinks into their skull.
The causes for this are:
- Horner’s syndrome.
Dogs who have this will have a ‘cherry eye’ – a visible pink mass in their eyelids. And they’ll also have an abnormal or swollen eyelid.
Note: Surgery is also needed for this to empty any fluid buildup or correct abnormalities. If it leads to cancer, removing the infected eyeball is the only answer.
#17: Corneal ulcer
Ulcers in the cornea can be caused by dry eye and eye trauma.
Just one tiny break on its surface could progress into a more serious case.
If not taken care of, these may lead to an infection or even cataracts. So early treatment is a must to prevent these from happening.
Consult a vet if you see any of these signs in your pooch:
- Cornea discoloration.
- Bulging of the cornea.
There could also be a fluid buildup in your dog’s eyes which makes them squint.
Studies show that the liquids cause pressure to rise. And this can impair their retina and optic disk.
It’s also said that its signs aren’t noticeable at first. Like dilated pupils and enlargement of the eye. So early detection might be hard for dog parents.
The symptoms may only start becoming visible when it’s already severe.
Their pupils will stop moving and the whites of their eyes will turn red. Also, there’s going to be discoloration in their cornea.
Note: If you suspect your pooch of having this, bring them to a vet for a checkup. He or she can detect it using a ‘tonometer.’ It’s a tool used to determine the internal pressure in the eyes.
Lastly, the issue might also be in their ‘conjunctiva.’
It’s a tissue covering an eyeball’s surface.
When inflamed, it’ll be painful. And other dogs may also sneeze, cough, or have a nasal discharge.
“How can they get this?”
It could be due to the other ailments mentioned above. As well as other reasons, such as:
- Dry eye.
- Eye trauma.
- Eyelid tumors.
- Viral infections.
- Blocked tear ducts.
- Irritation of the eye.
Note: If there are no abnormalities in the eye, this can be treated using oral and topical medications.
People also ask:
Why does my dog stare and wink at me?
Your dog stares and winks at you because they’re happy, showing affection, or asking you for something (e.g., food, toy, or walk). But sometimes, this could also be their way to get your attention.
If their eyes are wide open, they might be excited and invite you to play. Or, they’re waiting for you to give them what they need.
About affection, it’s said that eye contact can measure the attachment of two individuals. The longer it is, the stronger their bond.
This is because gazing at each other increases their oxytocin level. And this improves their closeness.
In fact, a study confirms that this occurs in dog-parent relationships as well. So if your pooch is healthy and doing this frequently, it’s likely a sign of love.
Why does my dog wink back at me?
Your dog winks back at you because they’re either imitating or communicating with you.
However, there could be times when it’s only a reflex.
Like when a sudden gust blows on them or dirt goes in their eye. Which causes them to squint to protect their eyes or flush off any foreign bodies.
Do dogs intentionally wink?
Guess what, dogs can intentionally wink. They use it to communicate with us or get a reaction from people.
For example, if it’s mealtime or random, they might be telling you that they’re hungry.
But if they do this after eating, it could be a sign of gratitude. Like “thanks for the meal!”
They’ll also wink to appease you as it’s one of the calming signals in canines.
However, this trick may also be reinforced.
They might have learned that winking gets them belly rubs or laughter in the end. So from then on, they’ll keep on doing this for that reason.
Should you wink back at your dog?
You should wink back at your dog. Because oftentimes, they only do this to show affection, trust, and gratitude.
So it’s only right to return their love or be polite to say, “You’re welcome.”
What does it mean when dogs wink at you?
Dogs wink at you to express their happiness or that they’re comfortable with you. But, they might also want to play, eat some treats, or go outside.
However, if they do this and there’s tension in the air (e.g., you’re mad, they’ve done something bad), they could be appeasing you.
This is because winking is one of the ways to make peace in the doggy world. As well as sneezing.
Do dogs blink with one eye?
Dogs can blink with one eye when they want to convey something, mimic you, or be noticed. But if they’re squinting for a long time, there could be something wrong with their eyes.
They might need immediate medical attention as they can have:
- Dry eye.
- Eye injury.
- Corneal ulcer.
- Foreign body.