Why Do Dogs Sigh?
Have you ever noticed when you’re with your dog that occasionally they will simply let out a big sigh? This is something that we as humans can relate to and is often viewed as a very cute behavioural trait. Your dog could be sighing at any time in the day; whilst you’re playing, out for a walk, in a stimulating environment or even snuggled up in the living room enjoying peace and quiet at the end of a long day.
You may find yourself wondering, what does this mean? Should it be something that you should become concerned about? In this article we are going to explore the reasons why your dog sighs and how dogs sighing can be used to communicate a whole range of things!
What is a Dog Sigh?
It is important to note that there is a big difference between when your dog is panting and when they are sighing. The main difference between sighing and other breathy vocalizations is the way in which the dog behaves. If you notice that your dog is panting, this is more likely to indicate a problem with the respiratory system and warrants further attention from a vet.
Where panting can be used to communicate anything from being too warm or super excited after a game in the park, to discomfort, pain or even a sign of a chronic illness, sighing is much simpler. A dog’s sigh is very much like a humans’ – in which they take a nice deep breath in and let out a big puff of air either through their nose or mouth. This markedly different to panting, where the breathing is rapid and continuous.
What Does It Mean When A Dog Sighs?
A dog sighing can have a full range of possible reasons, chief amongst them being that they are vocalizing emotions. The best thing you can do for them is observe the situation that the dog is in and take note of their body language at the time. Much like humans, dogs can portray a lot of how they are feeling through their actions and vocalizations.
For example, if your dog has soft ears, a relaxed posture and otherwise appears to be at rest, it is easy to deduce that the reason for their sigh is a simple matter of them feeling happy, content and at peace with their surroundings.
However, a classic example of a similar situation in which they could be trying to communicate something quite different would be if they were sat in a relaxed environment, but appear to be sitting in a more alert fashion and are sighing whilst making eye contact with you. This could be a sign that are trying to tell you something more specific, such as they are hungry, want to go outside, or simply that they’re bored. Whilst raising your dog you will have become familiar with these behaviors and will likely know what it is that they are wanting by reading this vocalization along with their body language.
Another way in which a dog may be sighing to communicate something with you may be if you are out for a walk and decide to play a game of fetch! After having a good run around in the grass they may settle down and heave a big sigh to tell you that they need a moment to themselves before resuming playtime.
While it can be easy to project your own feelings onto your dog in these situations, you should always remember to be observant and take note of how they look to be feeling themselves. Whilst you could be feeling perfectly happy in a situation, your dog could be sighing to tell you that they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Should this be the case, remember to give them what they need to help them feel more at ease, be it a walk outside, or reassurance that they are doing well and that you’re there for them.
Other Sounds Dogs Make and What They Mean
On top of sighing, there is a full variety of vocalizations a dog may do to portray how they are feeling. As with sighing, these sounds all mean very different things, dependent on the context. When a dog is growling for instance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being aggressive towards you. There are many other meaning to a growl, such as play time!
Many dogs let of a very different type of growl when they are playing to let you know that they are enjoying themselves and they are finding it fun and exciting – like a dog sigh, this often comes with a range of body language cues to indicate happiness. Similarly, your dog may growl when they’re chasing their tail. Interestingly, this happy growl is usually accompanied by a happy sigh, once they’ve finished their playtime. An aggressive growl would be recognized predominantly by their body language, as this is usually accompanied by raised hackles, a defensive body position and bared teeth.
Whining can have a similar meaning to sighing in many dogs, in which they will often whine to express emotion, like if they feel excited, frightened, uncomfortable or anxious. With whining, however, it can also be a sign of pain. You will know your dog best as to what each whine they make means. If you are ever worried that they could be trying to tell you that they are in pain, it would be advisable to ask your vet to take a look at them to help determine what the source could be.
Understanding your Dog
Whether it be dog sighing, panting, whining, growling or general conversational grumbling, each dog has their own unique personality, which allows them to communicate with you using these sounds. Remember to always consider their environment, their body language and the tone of their vocalization to really understand what your pup could be trying to tell you. From the first day they step through your door you will begin building a bond that will rely on these signals, so learn them well and you should always be able to recognise when something isn’t quite right.