Nothing is more adorable than the expressive sounds coming from your canine baby. Whether it's a moan, grunt, or a sigh, we can't help but smile when we hear them. But not everyone is aware of the meaning behind those auditory expressions. Part of being a pet owner is the desire to understand your fur baby's language. You may ask yourself, why do dogs sigh? Do their sighs have the same meanings as when humans sigh? While it may seem like an easy answer, sighs coming from your dog don't always mean that he or she is just being a 'drama queen' over something. You may just be surprised by some of the reasons your pooch lets out a sigh.
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The Root of the Behavior
Many experts have weighed in on the topic of why dogs sigh, there is no one definitive answer. However, most agree that sighs indicate your dog is attempting to vocalize their emotions. When you dog sighs it is an emotional signal terminating an action. More simply put, sighing acts as a sort of period at the end of a dog's unspoken sentence. Determining what exactly that may mean requires a little patience and attention to your pooch's body language.
When you and Rover come in from a long walk or a rousing game of fetch, you may notice a long sigh as they are lying down. If your dog sighs and lays his or her head on their front paws this usually indicates contentment. They have had their playtime and your attention so now they are satisfied. Knowing that you have made your fur baby content is something that can make you sigh with happiness as well.
A sigh is sometimes accompanied by your dog having their eyes partially closed. This is most likely their way of communicating pleasure. It may be that your pup sighs when you're petting them or you have just given them one of their favorite treats. Whatever the case, your dog is letting you know that they are pleased with the current situation.
There are so many different emotions your dog may be trying to communicate to you with a simple sigh. In young puppies, you may notice their 'contentment sigh' when they are close to their mothers, littermates, or close to humans. Or your pup may be telling you they are exhausted and ready for sleep. You may also notice that some breeds are more 'vocal' than others, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Just like with people, some are just more talkative than others. One thing to note is that the body language that accompanies your dog sighing is very important. It is key to figuring out just what it is that your pup is trying to communicate to you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Sighing from your dog is not always indicative of a positive emotion, that does seem to be the majority opinion. Learning to interpret your dog's vocal and non-vocal language is important. Think of it like this. If you were in a country where everyone spoke a different language from you, you would find it frustrating trying to communicate. It is very much the same thing for your dog trying to convey to you how they are feeling. If you take the time to study their sounds and what actions accompany those sounds, you will have a better understanding of what your dog is saying. Additionally, you can do things that bring out those happy sighs.
Besides just their body language, there is another physical aspect to watch when your dog sighs. Their facial expression. That's right, facial expressions in dogs can be very significant when your pup is trying to 'tell' you something. How they hold their eyes is a very important emotional indicator when accompanying a sigh. When your pups has their eyes wide open when sighing, it may mean he or she is disappointed or has given up. For example if they have been trying to get you to play or pay attention and you have not responded. This is definitely not the sigh you want to evoke from that precious pup.
Other Solutions and Considerations
While the positive emotion is the usual reasoning behind a dog's sigh, there are concerns as well. If you notice that your dog exhibits excessive sighing, you may want to mention it to your vet. There are instances where a sigh may not be emotional but health related. What you interpret as a sigh may, in fact, be a wheezing from your dog. Respiratory conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, can cause your dog to wheeze. If you notice that your pup not only is 'sighing' but is also coughing and having trouble breathing, it is definitely time to call the vet. Being aware of all accompanying actions and symptoms is important for keeping your fur baby happy and healthy.
Knowing that those little sounds coming from your pooch can be signs of pure contentment make us all smile a little more. So rub that belly ... scratch behind those ears ... and take every 'oppawtunity' to hear that sweet sound. Our fur babies bring us so much joy and comfort, isn't it worth a little effort to return that gift?