Dog Body Language: Why do Dogs Sigh and What Does it Mean?

Dog Body Language: Why do Dogs Sigh and What Does it Mean?

Dog Body Language: Why do Dogs Sigh and What Does it Mean?

Dogs sometimes do the funniest things, and one of these things is sighing. While dogs will sometimes do things like sighing for the same reasons that people do, this is not always the case. This can make reading a dog’s body language difficult.

Most of the time dogs will sigh because they are content and are relaxing. However, there are some other instances where dogs may sigh, and these sighs have different meanings.

Here we will be explaining how you can read your dog’s body language and providing you with all of the reasons why dogs sigh. In addition to this, we will also be explaining if you need to worry if your dog sighs a lot. Let’s get right into it.

Why Does Your Dog Sigh?

Most of the time dogs sigh when they are sleeping or are feeling relaxed. However, sometimes dogs will also sigh when they are bored or upset about something. Of course, dogs will sigh if they have learned that sighing gets their owner’s attention. Here are all of the different reasons why dogs sigh.

Your Dog is Feeling Happy and Relaxed

If your dog sighs when they curl up on the couch to relax, then it is likely that they are doing so simply because they are feeling comfortable and happy. This is fairly common in dogs, and it is actually a good sign. This is especially true if your dog is laying down and showing no signs of stress or anxiety.

Your Dog is Sleeping

Like humans, dogs will sometimes sigh when they are sleeping. This is another pretty common cause of sighing in dogs, and it is nothing that dog owners need to worry about most of the time. If your dog sighs in their sleep it is likely that they are just having a dream or is getting more comfortable.

Your Dog is Upset About Something

In some cases, sighing in dogs is a sign that they are feeling upset about something. Usually, this type of sighing is caused by stress, nervousness, or anxiety. Dogs might sigh out of stress or nervousness when they are awake, and they will likely exhibit more signs of their emotional state than just sighing.  Here are some other signs of anxiety in dogs to look out for:

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Excessive panting
  • Pacing
  • Excessive licking
  • Anxious body language (tail tucked, ears pinned back, etc.)

We will be explaining a bit more about how you can tell if a dog is happy or upset based on their body language a bit later in this article.

Your Dog is Feeling Bored

Of course, boredom could also cause a dog to sigh. In this case, the dog would not show signs of stress or anxiety. Rather, they will likely appear to be restless or are laying around.

If you believe that this may be the cause of your dog’s sighing, then taking them for a walk or playing a game with them is sure to cheer them right up. This is also fairly normal behavior in dogs, and it should not cause dog owners too much concern. We all get bored sometimes!

Your Dog Has Learned Sighing Gets Your Attention

Dogs are notoriously great at picking up on what gets their owner’s attention, and some dog owners are more in tune with their dogs than others. This means that in many cases dogs learn that sighing gets their owner’s attention. This usually leads to further rewards for the dog such as affection, toys, treats, and food.

If you go running to your dog every time they sigh, then your dog most likely learned to do this when they want something from you. While this isn’t necessarily a big deal to most dog owners, others may want to stop this behavior.

Really the only way to get your dog to stop sighing for attention is to ignore it. While this is not likely to stop the behavior right away, your dog will eventually learn that sighing no longer gets them attention. Once the dog learns this, they will then stop doing it.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Happy Dog and an Upset Dog?

There are ways that you can clearly tell the difference between a happy dog and a dog that is upset. All you need to do is figure out some information about a dog’s body language and apply it to the dog at hand. Here are some signs that a dog is feeling happy.

  • Relaxed ears and eyes
  • A loose, wagging tail (not stiff wagging, this is a sign of agitation!)
  • A loose and relaxed body
  • Eating and sleeping a healthy amount
  • Willing to engage in play and enjoyable activities like walks
  • Willingness to explore their environment
  • Doing the play bow (chest on the floor with behind in the air)

A happy dog may also bark, but this bark should not be excessive. Now, here are some signs that a dog is feeling stressed or anxious.

  • Ears pinned back
  • Crouching low to the ground
  • Tail stiff or tucked between their legs
  • Hair standing on end
  • Whites of eyes showing (whale eye)
  • Sudden onset of aggressive behavior
  • Destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, etc.
  • Excessive barking

Dogs are not only limited to feeling happy or anxious, though. In fact, dogs can feel sadness as well, and this may cause them to sigh. Here are some signs that your dog may be feeling a bit blue.

  • Lethargy
  • Appearing withdrawn
  • Being extra clingy
  • Sleeping more often
  • Changes in eating habits
  • No longer enjoying activities that they used to

Should You Worry if Your Dog Sighs a Lot?

Most dog owners do not need to worry about sighing in their dogs. In fact, the only times when dog owners need to be worried is if they believe that their dog is feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. The good news is that most dogs do not sigh because they are going through difficult emotions, but because they are calm and content.

If you’ve noticed your dog sighing more often or seeming anxious or upset, contact Embassy Lakes Animal Hospital in Cooper City, FL at (954) 432-5811. We can look at what the underlying causes might be, and help to bring your pet back to their typical happy self. If you’d like to make an appointment, fill out our online appointment request form now.

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Located in Cooper City, FL, we strive to do more than simply be a full-service veterinarian for your pet. Our decades of experience has served generations of families and their beloved pets and we look forward to serving you as well!