Dogs have been family members for humans since the second ice age and were the first animal to be domesticated in human history. Yet, over 10 thousand years later, their body language and vocalizations continue to make us wonder, why do dogs sigh?
Our dogs make tons of noises. Not just barking and growling either, our dogs get hiccups and yes, they even sigh.
Animal and human body language and noises signal different things to their counterparts, so seeing your dog sigh may raise questions about their mood and over health.
When a person sighs, they are often bored, uninterested, or upset, vocalizing their feelings through the rough outward breath that we know as a sigh. Dogs, on the other hand, have different reasons for letting out a sigh, and understanding their language can help you take better care of your beloved pet.
Reasons Behind the Dog Sighs
When your dog makes noise, they are trying to communicate with you and with other dogs, so listen up! A dog’s sigh can mean many things, some negative and some positive.
Expressing that they are content
Whether it is after a play session or they are just ready for a nap in the sunlight, your dog may let out a small sigh just to show they are happy with life at the moment. They are relaxed and feel safe in their environment! Pat yourself on the back for being such a great dog owner.
It is important to let sleeping dogs lie and avoid waking them up when they are taking a nap (no matter how cute they may look). Many dogs even dream when they sleep! Some dogs bark and run while laying down while they dream, possibly chasing a squirrel or playing with their doggie friend. Even if they seem like they are whining or crying in their dream, do not wake them up. Constantly waking up a dog from sleeping can give them sleep apnea and anxiety, two things that make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So when you hear that nice long sigh before they put their head down to sleep, know that they are comfortable and leave them alone!
Trying to get your attention
Why do dogs sigh? Well, that big juicy steak you have on the dinner table is for them, right? Your dog may sigh as an attempt to get you to look into their puppy dog eyes, a sight so tempting that you will want to give them table scraps!
Your dog may also sigh to get your attention for belly scratches or to play with them. If you are laying on the couch near them or sitting at your desk, they may let out this little sound as a gentle reminder that they are ready for love whenever you have a free hand.
Either way, your pet is in need of some love and attention!
Indicator of pain
There are times when your dog is in pain and expresses that with a sigh or other noises. If your dog is shifting around excessively when they are attempting to sleep in their dog bed and lets out a sigh when they finally settle, they may be in pain somewhere. This is common with joint pain and breathing problems, as seen in their change of body language and sounds.
Older dogs and highly active dogs are more prone to bodily aches: dogs can have muscle soreness and tendon strain just as humans can! This is why it’s not uncommon at all for pet owners to start giving their dog joint supplements, and some even turn to CBD oil for dogs.
If you think your pet may be suffering from bodily pain, make an appointment with your local veterinarian to receive the best course of action.
Showing they are tired
After a long day, your dog’s sigh may be an indicator that they are ready to go home or take a nap. They may be out of energy and ready to take a step back from walking, playing, or running.
Take your dog’s other body language clues into account, as well. If they are starting to slow down or stop when on a run or walk, they may be ready to quit. If they are playing with other dogs and become more aggressive or setting shorter boundaries with other dogs, they may be tired from playing and are ready to leave.
Overall Meaning of Dog Sigh
Until someone invents a collar that translates dog barks to human words, we may never truly know what dogs are trying to tell us, but learning more can help us create a better environment for them. Looking at the entire picture can further communicate just what your dog’s sigh meant and what they are trying to tell you!
Ways to Allow Them to Release Energy
You may notice that sometimes your dog gets the zoomies and will run around at high speeds! Common in both young and older dogs, this could be a sign of built-up energy that they are ready to release.
There are tons of ways to let your dog burn off some steam!
- Walks around the neighborhood
- Take them on a run
- Play ball or fetch
- Visit the dog park
- Mind enriching toys
- Play in the backyard with them or install an invisible dog fence
- Learn a new trick or two
- Set up a doggie play date
- Take some time for a long grooming session
- Visit a local park or national park
Keep your dog entertained!
Why allow them to release this energy?
When they are bored, your dog may dig holes as a way to keep themselves entertained. They may also be prone to chew shoes or rip apart pillows! Keeping them entertained and giving them outlets for their energy can lessen their drive to cause damage around your home.
If you are searching for low-energy dog breeds, there are plenty that are great for laid-back owners!
Allowing your dog to have outlets for their energy will keep your dog happy and healthy!
Your Best Friend and their Use of Sighs
Being a dog owner is not always the easiest job and can take a foreign language to a whole new level! Knowing what your dog’s noises mean is just another step towards giving your dog the best life they can possibly have.
Why do dogs sigh? FAQs
1. Why do dogs make a big sigh?
Some dogs do it to get attention, especially when they are in want or need of something. Other times, it may be a sign of content and overall happiness or a sign that they are tired. Worst case scenario, it is a sign that they are in pain and are having trouble getting comfortable.
Read above for more details on what your dog’s sigh may be saying!
2. What does it mean when a dog takes a deep breath?
Just like humans, sometimes dogs need a quick reset, as well! Taking a deep breath after play or after exercise can help slow their breathing and heart rate down. They may also take a deep breath when they are settling down to sleep, relaxing their diaphragm and the rest of their body.
3. What does it mean when my dog huffs?
A low or soft huff maybe your dog’s way of a silent bark, often taught as a ‘whisper’ bark. This small huff can be quiet but still alerts the dog owner to something.
If it is not a directed huff at something, such as a door or window, it may just be a playing sound with other dogs or humans that signals that the dog wants to play.
4. Are dogs bored when they sigh?
Maybe! Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercises and letting out all of their energy so the sigh they make is a sigh of content!
5. Why does my dog sneeze when they are playing?
During play, dogs sneeze to show their playmate that they are playing and not fighting. When puppies play with their siblings, they are practicing how to fight when they are older. So they learn that sneezing is a way to show that they are friends, not foe!