Ever was playing with your dog and noticed them wink at you and thought, “why does my dog wink at me?”

Like people, dogs are capable of a full range of facial expressions. And they each have their own meaning behind them. Bared teeth typically mean, “I’m about to attack!”-- but some dogs also do that as a way to smile.

And usually, they know the right “look” to give to pull at your heartstrings for that treat. But what about when they wink? Is it on purpose or a fluke?

In this article, we will break down what means your dog winks at you, why they do it, and if it should cause you any concern.

dog winking

Why Does My Dog Wink At Me?

Though dogs can’t speak directly to us, we can learn a lot from their behaviors and expressions.

Over thousands of years living side-by-side with humans, they’ve developed unique communication methods-- that if we learn to recognize-- can give us a ton of information about our canine friends.

And winking is one we might be able to decipher. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why your dog might wink at you.

Dogs Wink To Show Submission

As Superb Dog mentions, dogs in the wild have a hierarchy of dominance and show it in many different and sometimes subtle ways.  Licking the side of the dominant dog’s face or rolling over to show their belly is a sign of submissiveness.

It’s also conveyed through minor facial expressions, including the eyes. The more submissive dog will usually break eye contact first. And winking breaks that stare, so it can be seen as a sign of submission.

And that’s what your dog could be doing to you if you catch them winking at you. As the provider of shelter and food, your dog recognizes you as the dominant figure in the relationship. And if you make eye contact, they will wink to show their position.

And as their protector and provider, it’s important to know where your pup is at and to find them if they get lost. Fi’s GPS collar provides activity tracking and monitoring so you never have to worry about your best friend’s safety.

Dogs Wink Through Imitation

Like babies, our dogs are always watching and learning from us. A lot of their behavior mimics ours the more time we spend together. For instance, they will sleep/rest when you do, follow you from room to room, and do other subtle things you may not notice.

If you wink at your pup a lot or in general, they might begin to copy you. Dogs are brilliant animals who learn by seeing and repeating the action. They’re also very curious and become very interested in what you’re doing and why.

So, if you catch your dog winking at you, they could be just mimicking you! And they do say imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Dogs Wink To Show Emotion And Affection

There’s also the possibility your dog could just be showing their love and affection to you. A wink from across the room is your dog just saying, ”Hey, I love you.”

dog winking

Can You Train A Dog To Wink?

Sometimes, the dog winks without thinking about it. However, it is an intentional move they can make. Speaking with Southern Living, Dr. Megan Conrad (a veterinarian who helps people across the nation through a telehealth service called Hello Ralphie) said, “Winking is a trick that can be taught.”

But just like when teaching any trick to a dog, it needs to be reinforced with positive rewards like treats and love. It also needs to be accompanied with a command. In this case, you could say “wink” and do the action of winking at the same time.

However, remember not every dog will be able to wink. So, if you’re pooch can’t do it, they’re still special too.

Does My Dog Wink Too Much?

Sometimes, it’s not all fun and games if you see excessive blinking. It could be related to an underlying health condition. If you suspect any of the following, please contact your vet.

  • Entropion is a genetic disease that affects the eye. The symptoms include excessive winking, blinking, weeping, and squinting. The condition is characterized by the eyelid flipping inward, causing irritation to the eyeball. Left alone, it can cause permanent damage to the dog’s eye.
  • Blepharospasm, more commonly known as an “eye twitch,” can be a sign of something more serious going on. These winks and blinks are completely involuntary and should be investigated by your vet.
  • Irritation from a foreign object can cause your pup to blink, wink, and weep excessively. If it’s something like a hair, you can see if the tears will remove it themselves. If not, then flushing your dog’s eye with clean water should do the trick.

Keeping Your Dog’s Eyes Healthy

Your dog’s eyelids play a pivotal part in their eye health. Blinks and winks help to keep the eyeball lubricated and free of dirt and debris.

A dog with abnormal eyelids might face many complications throughout its lifetime. They might have trouble fully closing their eyes and deal with issues such as dry eyes or overproduction of tears. If you’re dealing with one of these special cases, it’s best to seek advice from your vet. They will help you determine the best way to handle this situation

Final Thoughts

In short, if you notice your dog giving you a wink, it’s totally normal behavior. And not every pup will be able to do it-- that’s also normal too.

It’s your dog’s way of conveying emotion, whether that’s submission or love. With enough time and patience, you can teach your pooch to wink on command-- showing off the cool trick in front of all your friends!

But if you see excessive winking, weeping, discharge, or anything that causes you concern, be sure to consult your vet.