Do Dogs Wink?
Yes and we’re not just talking about their eyes here. You may have noticed that your dog has a tendency to wag his tail rapidly when he is excited and running around like crazy with true joy.
You might also have seen your pup’s “happy dance” – an abbreviated version of the play bow, where her front legs collapse under her chest as she tucks her rear beneath her. This usually happens after you return home from being away for a while or during playtime with other canines or household members.
And then there are those times when it seems your dog is simply reacting to something in his environment… Staringently at something suspicious on the ground or in the sky, or just staring into space and twitching his head. What is going on?
Dogs wag their tails for a variety of different reasons, and we can learn to interpret this behavior through observation and by looking at what’s happening in the surrounding environment. In other words, when your pup starts flicking her tail back and forth rapidly…is she scared? Excited? Annoyed?
To add another layer to this question, let’s say your dog is standing with her tail still when all of a sudden you see it jerk from side to side twice. Was she trying to tell you something about a particular stimulus that caught her attention, in which case you should try to focus in on that stimulus in context with the rest of the environment? Or was she simply having a muscle spasm in her tail and that’s why it moved from side to side twice in a row?
Let’s expand on this topic even further: what about when your dog licks his nose repeatedly and is staring intensely at something un-moving. Is he frightened by it, or is he just curious? The answer can vary widely depending on the surrounding circumstances. By reading these behaviors in context and linking them with our own observations of our dogs’ overall demeanor, we can get a better sense of what they may be trying to communicate.
Research suggests there are over forty different reasons for tail wagging.
What causes dogs to “wink”? There are many reasons why dogs will blink, or even wink at us, with their eyes. The first thing to consider is what the overall emotional state of your dog is. If he’s winking while barking incessantly at a squirrel through the window, then you should know that this behavior is directly linked to his emotions and can mean several different things depending on what else he might be doing in that moment (e.g., standing with hackles up and ears back as he barks aggressively).
A dog may wag his tail for any one of forty reasons , including feeling joy and happiness, but also fear and anxiety.
However, if we look at some common causes for tail wagging in general: excitementhappy), fear (anxious), or aggressive (defensive). Finally, dogs may wag their tails in lieu of aggression and as a calming signal (submission), and they may also use tail wagging to communicate with other canines.
When your dog is standing still and begins to quickly flick his tail back and forth like a metronome, you can bet he’s feeling very excited about something. If the movement is fast but not frantic, it could be an indicator of frustration that the source of stimulation isn’t going away soon enough. If your pup’s excitement level continues to rise while he keeps tilting his head upward while rapidly moving his tail from side-to-side, then you should know there’s a decent chance he might be experiencing some frustration.
If your dog is barking at something, like a squirrel through the window, and she’s wagging her tail back and forth rapidly with her ears pressed flat against her head… you can bet she’s probably feeling some level of anxiety. If this behavior occurs in the presence of children or other dogs, then think about whether any of those things might be scaring her.
Tail wagging that signals stress is often accompanied by drooling (a calming signal) as well as averting eyes and flattening ears against head. When dogs feel anxious they may also use blinks (winks) to communicate their discomfort to others. Abruptly pausing tail wagging or rapidly switching speeds can indicate an abrupt change in emotional state.
What about when your dog’s tail goes between his legs, or he tucks it completely underneath his body? This is known as “whale tail” and can be an indicator that your pup is feeling submissive (calming signal). If your pooch also lowers the front half of his body to the ground while tucking his tail away, then you can bet he is feeling extremely submissive.
Dogs may use calming signals like blinks (winks), yawns, sneezes, lip licking, barking softly or rapidly blinking at humans to help relieve tension during potentially anxiety-inducing situations.
Tail wagging in adult dogs is often accompanied by a slightly open mouth and relaxed facial muscles.
If you notice a slight opening of your dog’s mouth, looking as if he is smiling at you, it can indicate that he is feeling relaxed and happy. This is another form of a calming signal used to avoid confrontation with a person or animal the dog feels threatened by.
All happy dogs do not necessarily wag their tails because it’s impossible to know why each individual dog uses this behavior in specific situations. By reading these behaviors in context and linking them with our own observations of our dogs’ overall demeanor, we can get a better sense of what they may be trying to communicate.