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Why Do Dogs Sigh: Secret Signals of Dog Communication

It's no secret that pups can't speak to us - instead, over the centuries, dog breeds developed their own way to communicate with us and each other using sounds and body language. Uncover the secrets of dog communication to translate your pup's every sigh, growl, moan, and groan. 

Dogs can't speak to us, so we see a dog reveal emotions in two ways: body language and sound. We hear our dogs sigh loudly and pretty frequently, but the reasons why can vary greatly.

Sometimes a pup sighs when they're happy, and sometimes when they're sad or anxious. Sometimes, a dog loudly sighs when feeling bored and unstimulated or has an underlying health issue. 

Either way, when our dogs sigh so much, it can give us some cues about their general well-being and state of mind. Learning to decode the sounds your dog makes can help you communicate with them better. 

Why do dogs sigh heavily?

Much like when humans sigh, a dog’s sigh can mean many things. Dog behavior experts tell us that a sigh is a simple emotional signal that ends an action; it may be related to any number of feelings or situations.

Here are a few main reasons why dogs tend to use sighing to communicate with us and others.  

Communication

A dog uses sighs to communicate its feelings to us. It's essential to pay attention to the context of the situation and other cues your pup may be giving you. 

  • A dog will sigh at the end of a fun play session to express its satisfaction with the fun.
  • Conversely, a dog might sigh if they were begging for a piece of chicken and didn't get any - this sigh expresses admitted defeat and disappointment.

Paying attention to a dog's facial expressions while they sigh can give you more insight into their feelings. 

  • When a dog sighs with half-closed or closed eyes, they're usually very content.
  • Open-eyed sighs, on the other hand, can communicate disappointment and anxiety. 

Relaxation

When a dog is getting relaxed, they may sigh to help get even deeper into a state of calm. Sighing has a physical effect on the body that helps our nervous system slow, and the same is true for doggos. 

Closed or partly-closed eyes accompany a relaxed sigh. 

Inactivity

Sometimes, a dog sighs because they're simply bored. If it's been an incredibly dull day or your dog hasn't had their exercise yet, they may be frustrated and getting their extra energy out with a sigh. 

Health concerns

Frequent sighing can signal that your pup is in some level of discomfort. If you suspect your doggo may have a health condition, take them to the vet for a proper exam. 

Sleeping

Sometimes our dogs sigh while they're sleeping. 

Dog sighing FAQ

We’ve also answered a couple of our most commonly asked questions concerning dogs sighing!

Why do dogs sigh when they lay down?

A dog can sigh when it lays down for a few different reasons. 

As we mentioned, your pup might be sighing to relax and calm itself, but if the sigh seems agitated, it may be painful for your dog to lay down. 

Arthritis and other health conditions can make sitting and standing painful and difficult for our dogs. 

What do dogs dream about? 

While we don't exactly know, the sounds of their sighs and their twitching bodies can give us a clue.

The sigh will sound tense during bad dreams, while pups with happy dreams will sigh in a content and relaxed manner. 

How dog sounds reveal their emotions

We've broken down the sigh, but that's only one of the many sounds a dog may make each day. Here are common meanings of our pups' other noises to communicate with us.

Why do dogs moan?

Puppies are the most frequent users of the moan to express content when they're being fed or feel close to their littermates or mother. 

A grown dog will quietly moan to demand attention from its owner - they may want a walk, food, or simply want some affection and love.

Dogs especially exhibit behavior if they know whining isn't acceptable, as it's basically a less-intrusive sounding whine. 

Why do dogs groan?

A dog will groan to demand our attention or to express that they're tired after a long and busy day. 

Sometimes, a dog may groan if it is suffering from an illness or feeling unwell. 

Why do dogs whine?

When a dog is scared, they may whine to communicate that fear to receive our protection.

While we often associate whining with only unhappiness, many pups also whine when they're excited and content. 

The whine's tone can give you some clues into a dog's feelings: an excited whine typically drops in pitch at the end, while a distressed cry will rise in pitch as it goes on. 

Why do dogs growl?

Dogs typically growl to show dominance or fend off perceived threats.

  • Your pup can growl out of fear or aggression, but they can also growl to show excitement. 
  • Some dogs use growling to encourage people and other dogs to play with them. This growling can continue during play, too - your pup is having fun and wants the game to continue.
  • Aggressive growling tends to sound slightly lower in tone, while happy growling has a higher pitch.

Always remain aware of your furry friend's body language if you’re unsure why they're growling. 

So, what does your dog’s sigh mean?

There are plenty of reasons for your dog to sigh. They might be bored, happy, excited, relaxed, or want some serious attention from you. 

Paying attention to their facial expressions, body language, and context cues can all give a good indication of what's going on in your dog's head. 

If you feel your dog is sighing or making noises too excessively, don't be afraid to consult your vet for their professional opinion, as sometimes there can be underlying issues in a noisy pup. 

Use our tools to uncover the meaning behind your pet's sighs, growls, whines, and more.

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