Why Do Dogs Sigh?

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and you've just settled down atop the sofa to read a book. As predicted, your dog jumps up next to you, circles round once, lays himself down, and then releases a great big sigh before closing his eyes. Whenever this happens, you'd like to think of it as a happy sigh of contentment...but could it be something else? Could it possibly be the kind of sigh a child might melodramatically employ before groaning, "I'm SO bored! There's nothing to do!"?

...

If your dog is prone to letting out a few extended exhales every now and then, you may have wondered if dog sighs could possibly convey the same feelings that people sighs do. Well, I certainly wondered, so after doing a bit of research, I uncovered the following possibilities:

Ahhh well. Maybe next time.

Your dog may be sighing a sigh of resignation. If your dogs pulls out his best "begging face" while you eat that double decker BLT for lunch and you choose to ignore his silent (or not so silent!) pleas, he may eventually plop back down to the floor with a resigned sigh of defeat. And here's how you can tell that it's an "I give up" sigh: his eyes will probably be wide open while he lets it out.

Ahhhhh. That's more like it.

A sigh can also mean that your pup is calm, content, and entering a deeper state of relaxation—indicated by eyes that are half-closed (unlike the previous, eyes-open variety). Just as you would let out a long breath after your chores are done and you've sunk down into a comfy chair with a glass of wine in hand, your dog could be unwinding after a long hard day of running around with his furry friends at doggie daycare. In an Ask the Vet column in the San Francisco Chronicle, dog trainer Pat Engels writes: “My own unscientific observation is that dogs usually sigh while resting...These sighs seem to mark a physiological transition into a deeper state of relaxation.”

Ahhhhh...I don't feel so good.

Unfortunately, deep sighing could also indicate a health issue. Frequent sighing accompanied by groaning could indicate that your pet is in pain, so take him to the vet immediately. Also, what you think may be sighs could in fact be wheezes, a symptom of respiratory illness. If in doubt, consult an expert.

So there you have it. If no signs of pain are present, chances are that your dog is calm and relaxed, not bored stiff by your dull company—so you can breath a sigh of relief.

By Maya M.


Resources
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/11/DDRN1AASOM.DTL
http://www.the-happy-dog-spot.com/dog-communication.html