Our furry friends never cease to amaze us with their human-like behaviors, and one gesture that often catches our attention is when our dog gives us a wink. It’s natural to wonder, “why does my dog wink at me?” Let’s delve deeper into this fascinating phenomenon and explore the intriguing world of canine winking and blinking.
Unveiling the Difference: Winking vs. Blinking
While winking is a familiar human facial expression, dogs don’t possess this ability. Therefore, when we witness our furry companions winking, it should pique our curiosity. On the other hand, blinking is an integral part of doggy body language that often escapes our notice. As our dog’s eyes are a primary means of communication, maintaining ocular hygiene with natural dog eye wipes is crucial. So, before we delve into the significance of dog winks, let’s first differentiate between winking and blinking.
Winking typically involves a dog briefly shutting one eye, while blinking refers to the momentary closure of both eyes. It’s important to note that dogs have more than two eyelids, making their blinking and winking a bit more complex than that of humans. Dogs blink to lubricate their eyes, cleanse them of foreign particles, or shield them from approaching objects. In essence, it’s a natural instinct shared by all mammals.
However, the second reason behind blinking relates to a dog’s facial expressions and their remarkable ability to communicate. Just as we explored the concept of dogs having eyebrows, we discover that these furry companions possess a sophisticated eye language. Blinking is an understated way dogs employ their eyes to convey messages to us.
But what could it mean when our dogs engage in special winks or blinks?
Decoding the Meaning: Common Reasons for Dog Winking and Blinking
An Irritant or Protection
If you catch your dog winking, chances are it wasn’t intentional. It could be a response to a speck of dust or an irritant near their eye, causing them to momentarily shut their eyelids for protection. Dogs have suprabrow whiskers near their eyes that trigger eyelid closure when disturbed, resembling a wink.
Contrary to unintentional winks, dogs intentionally wink and blink at their owners. If you need proof, here’s an adorable little companion giving their owner a friendly wink.
But why do dogs wink with one eye? It’s a variation of slow blinking or affable blinking that dogs sometimes use to express affection towards their loved ones. Normally, they blink with both eyes, but occasionally, one eye may wink more than the other.
Affable blinking serves as an appeasement signal, indicating that your dog desires friendship and hopes for your affection (perhaps even a slice of pizza). Other appeasement signals include lip and nose licking, looking away, or tilting their heads.
Blinking is also a common way for dogs to defuse tension in interactions with other dogs. If a dog approaches your furry friend in an intimidating manner and your dog turns away, blinking, it’s a sign of good manners and an attempt to avoid conflict.
Dogs Who Learn to Wink
Occasionally, a dog might wink if they observe positive reinforcement and praise from their owner after doing it once. This encouragement may prompt them to repeat the gesture, eventually leading to a dog who winks habitually.
Dogs that frequently squint or blink rapidly may be experiencing health issues and might require a visit to the vet. Blinking or squinting can be caused by various infections or eye problems, often accompanied by other symptoms such as discharge or pink eye.
One condition, known as Blepharospasm, can manifest as twitching in one or both eyes, resembling winking or blinking. It can result from diseases or foreign objects in the eye. Additionally, certain dog breeds are more susceptible to eye diseases like corneal ulcers, impacted tear ducts, and dry eyes, which can contribute to excessive blinking. Dog winks are more common when the issue affects only one eye.
If you suspect your dog has an eye infection, it’s advisable to read our article on human eye drops for dogs before reaching for your medicine cabinet.
Do Dogs Wink on Purpose?
Absolutely! Dogs can intentionally blink or wink. Slow winking or blinking is a sign of affection, indicating their desire to be friends. It’s the complete opposite of a “hard stare,” which often signifies aggression, or looking away, which suggests avoidance of conflict.
Should I Wink Back at My Dog?
If your canine companion is blinking slowly at you, there’s no harm in reciprocating with a slow blink. However, it’s important to rule out any medical issues before engaging in winking. Once you’ve ensured your dog’s well-being, returning their wink or blink, while making mutual eye contact, is a way to convey your friendliness and goodwill.
Can I Teach My Dog to Wink?
Absolutely! Over time, you can train your dog to wink. Start by offering them treats and gently touching the area just above their eye, causing it to reflexively close. Simultaneously, say the command “wink.” Use a clicker to mark the behavior the moment they wink, and reward them with a treat. Repeat this process every few days, ensuring you’re gentle and mindful of not causing any harm to your dog’s eye. Safely distance your finger from their eye and avoid being intrusive while encouraging the blink.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why does my dog blink slowly at me?
A slow blink from your dog typically signifies their desire to be your friend, conveying a friendly disposition. It’s referred to as an affable blink and serves as an appeasement signal, just like ducking their head, lip licking, or licking your mouth. You can learn more about appeasement signals in our article on whether to kiss our dogs and why dogs lick other dogs’ mouths.
Why does my dog stare at me?
Dogs gaze intently at us to study and interpret our signals, enabling them to anticipate our actions, such as feeding or walking them. They also stare as a display of love, as mutual eye contact between dogs and their owners releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, for both parties. Furthermore, dogs often stare when they’re attempting to communicate something, such as staring at you and then glancing at the door to indicate a desire to go outside.
If your dog is consistently winking with one eye, it may signal an underlying medical issue. It could be irritants causing discomfort, or an infection making their eyes sensitive to light. Winking with one eye is a learned behavior that dogs can develop.
On the other hand, blinking with both eyes is more common. A long, slow blink, known as an “affable blink,” indicates your dog’s attempt to appease you and establish friendship. However, if you notice more rapid blinking or squinting, it’s essential to consider the possibility of a medical condition.
Remember, dogs possess a remarkable ability to communicate through their eyes. So, next time your furry friend gives you a wink, embrace the affectionate gesture and cherish the unique bond you share.