Why Do Dogs Wink?

Have you ever seen your dog winking at you and wondered what they were attempting to communicate?

Or perhaps you worry that your dog’s excessive winking may indicate a health problem?

We’ll address all of your concerns about your dog winking and what it might indicate in this guide to winking dogs.

How come dogs wink?

It’s a sign of happiness when dogs wink at their owners, submitting or trying to mimic human behavior.

But if your dog blinks and winks excessively, that could indicate an eye condition that needs a vet’s care.

That’s the quick explanation, but let’s get into more depth on why do dogs wink.

Why Do Dogs Wink? – The Reasons

brown dog on grass winking


Dogs can have allergic reactions just like humans, and one of the symptoms can be excessive blinking or winking.

If your dog is constantly winking, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet and get them checked out.


In some cases, dogs will wink to show submission to another dog or person.

It’s like dogs saying, “I’m not a threat; please don’t hurt me.”


When dogs are happy, they often express it through body language and facial expressions.

Winking is sometimes one of those expressions, along with tail wagging and smiling.

brown dog from near winking


Dogs learn by imitation, and one of the things they imitate most is their owners’ behavior.

That includes dog blinking and wincing habits.

If you catch yourself winking or blinking more than usual, your dog might start to do the same, this is a normal dog behavior.

Eye Irritation

If dogs come into contact with an irritant, such as a foreign object or dust particles, they may respond by blinking.

That is their body’s attempt to flush out the irritant and protect their eyesight.


Blepharospasm is when dogs wink rapidly and repetitively due to involuntary spasms in the eye muscles.

It can be caused by stress or tiredness, but it could also be related to more serious medical issues such as glaucoma or uveitis (inflammation in the eye).


Entropion refers to a condition in which the eyelid rolls inward, causing eyelashes to rub against the dog’s cornea.

This genetic condition is rare but extremely painful for canines and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Sign Language

little brown dog winking

Some dogs use winking as doggy sign language.

It’s thought that dogs have picked up this behavior from their owners and use it to communicate with them in the same way humans would wink or raise their eyebrows at one another.

No matter why your dog winks, it’s important to watch them and ensure their behavior is healthy.

Knowing why dogs wink can help owners better understand their furry friends and provide better care.

If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior, if it is an excessive winking or if they seem uncomfortable or stressed, a visit to the vet can help determine if it’s one of the health issues that cause a dog blinking.

Do Dogs Intentionally Wink?

Dogs do not intentionally wink.

Dog winks result from dogs blinking rapidly in response to something they see, usually when they are excited or happy.

Some dogs will also flash as a way of trying to get someone’s attention.

It is a sign of affection and can be interpreted as dogs trying to communicate with humans.

It’s important to note that dogs do not wink with the same purpose or intention behind it as humans do.

They are simply responding to what they see in their environment.

So while dogs may “wink” at us out of affection, it is not an intentional gesture like when humans wink.

What If My Dog Winks Too Much?

white dog in snow winking

Your dog may be winking to express happiness or as a signal of submission or appeasement.

However, excessive winking could also indicate a health issue, an eye problem, such as an infection, dryness, or entropion (inward folding of the eyelid).

If your dog winks frequently and it doesn’t seem like normal behavior, it’s best to take him to the vet for a check-up.

Your vet can rule out any medical causes and help you determine the underlying cause for your dog winks excessively.

If no medical issues are found, your vet may be able to provide tips on how to discourage this behavior of a winking dog or redirect it into acceptable behavior.

In some cases, dogs may benefit from behavioral training if they continue to wink excessively.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that dogs communicate differently than humans, so although winks may mean something different in human interactions, they may have a different meaning when dogs use them!

How To Train A Dog To Wink

brown dog outdoor winking

It’s pretty easy to train your dog to wink on cue, do it with healthy adult dogs.

All you have to do is reward your furry friend every time he or she flashes on command.

Start by saying “Wink,” and then immediately give your dog a treat.

Once your dog has mastered the skill, you can use it in different situations, like during obedience trials or just for fun!

There are two ways to train your dog to wink on command: luring and shaping.

Luring involves using food as a reward to influence your pup’s behavior.

Start by holding a treat near your dog’s nose, make light eye contact, then say “Wink,” and move the joy slowly up towards his or her forehead until the pup closes one eye.

As soon as the dog does this, give him or her the treat.

Repeat this process a few times; eventually, your pup should start associating the word “Wink” with closing one eye.

Shaping is another way to teach dogs new behaviors.

With shaping, you don’t use treats as a reward; instead, you reward your pup for the small steps they take toward mastering the behavior.

For example, if you want to train your dog to wink on command, reward them every time they close one eye – even if it’s not on purpose!

white dog in forest winking

Once your pup has gotten used to close one eye, increase your criteria and start rewarding only when he or she winks on command.

That will help him understand that winking is what you want him or her to do.

Whether you choose to lure or shape, always be consistent and reward your pup every time they perform the desired behavior.

With enough practice and patience, dogs can learn even the most unusual behaviors, like winking on cue!

So why not give it a try?

Your pup will love it!

After all, dogs are capable of so much more than we realize – and teaching them to wink is just one way to demonstrate that.

The question “why do dogs wink” can not be answered with a single word.

In conclusion, dogs may wink for several reasons – some serious, some less.

If you notice your dog winking often, it may be worth getting a check-up from your veterinarian, as there could be an underlying medical issue causing the behavior.

Before You Go…

Now you know the answer to the question, “Why do dogs wink?”.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.