Why Do Dogs Wink?

Dogs use facial expressions to show how they feel or if they are trying to communicate with their owner. Your dog may use a variety of expressions, such as winking, but why do dogs wink? What does it mean when you see your dog wink?

We will answer all of these questions in this article and truly find out the meaning of the dog wink.

Why Do Dogs Wink

Why Do Dogs Wink?

There are a few reasons why your dog may be winking at you. The main reason your dog is winking to show a sign of submissiveness.

Your dog will close one eye and avoid eye contact. When a dog does this, it means it doesn’t want to fight with its owner and that you are the dominant or alpha in the pack.

Let’s learn more about why your dog winks and some other explanations as to why your dog is winking.

1. Submissive Behavior

As we said above, the main reason is due to submissive behavior. Out in the wild, dogs would use their eyes to talk to each other.

If one dog is looking at another and they make direct eye contact, they may get into a fight. The other dog may look down, look away, or wink with one eye shut, that is a sign of submissiveness.

If your dog looks down or winks at you, then it means your dog knows you are the alpha and you’re dominant in the role with each other.

2. Imitation

Another reason your dog is winking at you could be that your dog is trying to imitate so of the expressions you make. Many dog breeds are extremely intelligent, and they will pick up on things their owners do.

Even other behaviors your dog will imitate, such as getting excited when you are excited. So, if you wink a lot even without realizing it, your dog can pick up on the behavior and copy you.

If this is the case, you really have nothing to worry about. This can actually be a benefit, especially if you are going through training with your dog. With your dog copying you, it may pick up on tricks and commands quicker.

Paws & Bones

3. Happiness

Sometimes dogs will wink to show its human that it is very happy for the attention, love, and affection you are giving it. When you praise and give your dogs lots of affection, your dog may open its mouth, stick out its tongue, and slightly close its eyes. This means your dog is truly happy.

This can also mean that your dog is feeling very playful and what to play with you. You can take the opportunity to go outside and play with your dog. Overall a dog that is very friendly and happy will likely wink more.

4. Health Issue

Your dog may be winking at you due to a health concern or health issue. I know that you don’t even want to hear that, but it is true, and you will need to rule out the possibility of an eye issue. Below are some really common eye issues that may be causing your dog’s problem.

Dry Eyes

Dogs can easily get dry eyes which means their tear glands aren’t producing the tears or necessary wetness to keep the eye moist. Your local veterinarian can easily fix this issue, so if you suspect that your dog has dry eyes, then get your dog checked out.


This is another condition that can be very painful for your dog. This causes your dog’s eyelid to actually hold inside and makes a painful rubbing against the eye.

This can make your dog wink a lot more due to the irritation inside of the eye. If the issue keeps being persistent, then it can cause ulcers to form inside of the eyelid of your dog. This will be something that will need to be treated by your veterinarian.

Pink Eye

Pink eye is something that dogs can get just like humans. This bacterial infection can cause your dog’s eyes to have a pink hue to it. Thankfully this can be easily treated with medicine.

This can make your dog’s eyes very itchy and also dry. You will know it’s pink eye because you can usually tell by the eye’s bright pinkness.


The last medical condition that can make your dog wink its eyes is due to glaucoma. This makes an excessive amount of liquid on the eye. The tear ducts produce too much wetness, and your dog will constantly blink to try to remove the wetness. This is something that will need to be treated by a veterinarian to prevent dog blindness.

Winking Dog

Can you Train a Dog to Wink?

Yes, you can actually train your dog to wink on command. Of course, this is not going to happen overnight. This will take lots of practice and time, but eventually, you can train your dog to wink on command.

  • Start your training in between meals when your dog isn’t starving but isn’t full either.
  • Get some dog training treats or something small like a handful of cheerios to use for training.
  • Tell your dog to sit and say the word “Wink” and touch your dog’s whiskers which will naturally make your dog wink to close its eyes naturally.
  • After your dog does this, reward your dog right away.
  • Continue this process each time, and eventually, your dog will be able to wink before you even touch your dog’s whiskers.
  • Continue giving your dog treats and eventually the dog will respond to the “Wink” word automatically.

Don’t get discouraged, as this training process can take weeks or even months. Just remember to take it slow and show your dog lots of love and praise for a job well done.

Should I Wink Back at My Dog?

You certainly can wink back at your dog if you want to. Dogs will wink at you when they are so happy, so if you are happy with your dog, you can certainly reciprocate those feelings by winking back.

Can You Train Dog To Wink


Now the next time you see your dog winking at you or even just closing one eye, you will know what it means and what to look for in case it’s a medical issue. In most cases, dogs wink at their owner out of love and affection.

When a dog winks, it is completely normal, and this is how dogs talk to one another and signal to their owners. If your dog doesn’t know how to wink and you want it to, you can follow the steps above to train your dog to wink.

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