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Why Do Dogs Sigh? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

sad and worried border collie dog lying on a wood floor

Why Do Dogs Sigh? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & FAQ


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs typically sigh when they are falling asleep or feel very comfortable. They do, however, occasionally sigh when they are bored or agitated. Of course, if a dog has discovered that sighing can attract their owner’s attention, they may do it more often. In general, this behavior is nothing to worry about.

The most frequent explanations for why our four-legged friends sigh are listed below.

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The 6 Common Reasons the Dogs Sigh

1. They’re Content

One of the most frequent reasons for dogs sighing is contentment. When your dog curls up next to you after work to express their happiness that you’re back, or when they lay down in bed after a long day of play, they may let out a long and deep sigh. A dog with a contented or calm sigh will have a soft face. They can also keep half-open eyes and relaxed ears as a result.

Generally, when your beloved animal sighs with satisfaction, they tend to be lying down.

dog resting his head on his owner
Image by: Vach cameraman, Shutterstock

2. They’re Happy

Your dog might sigh after receiving a particularly satisfying bowl of dog food or a thorough, leg-kicking belly rub. As you may sigh after taking a glass of cool lemonade on a hot day, this sigh denotes satisfaction and happiness.

3. They Are Feeling Frustrated

This is another typical explanation for why dogs sigh. Your furry companion might not want to end a game of fetch, even if you do. They might look at you imploringly when you return inside and let out a disappointed sigh when they realize playtime is actually finished. An interactive treat toy like a Kong or a self-fetching toy can keep them occupied as an alternative.

Mixed-breed fawn dog lying down on a tiled floor looking away next to a tennis ball and ignoring it
Image by: Marta Nogueira, Shutterstock

4. They’re Bored

Perhaps it’s raining, so you can’t take your dog for a walk, or maybe you’re occupied and can’t offer them all the attention they need. Your dog may sigh at you on these days to indicate that they are bored and want to play. To prevent your pet from being bored, buy them some entertaining new toys, teach them fun tricks, or take them to a dog park.

Hire a walker to provide your dog with much-needed stimulation and exercise on days when you know you’ll be busy.

5. They’re Sleeping

Your dog may wiggle their feet or whine when they are sleeping, and a sigh is only another response to their dreams. Perhaps they’re enjoying daydreaming about the ear scratch you gave them just before going to sleep!

pitbull puppy sleeping comfortably on its bed
Image by: dogboxstudio, Shutterstock

6. They Want Your Attention

Your dog may sigh because they want more attention, scratches, or treats. They may also do it to tell you that they thought they deserved another treat after just receiving one from you! They will sigh while looking squarely at you or the object they want.

When your dog sighs in this situation, don’t pet or stroke them; this teaches them that sighs are noticed. Ignoring is the best way if you want to stop this behavior. However, if their sigh prompts you to remember that you haven’t engaged in play or taken them for a stroll, ensure that you do so right away! Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03

How Can You Distinguish Between an Unhappy Dog and a Happy Dog?

You can distinguish a happy dog from a dog who is upset in many ways. You need to learn canine body language and apply it to your pet. Here are a few indications that a dog is happy:

  • A relaxed, stress-free body language
  • Relaxed eyes and ears
  • A loose, wagging tail
  • Getting enough sleep and food
  • Participates in fun activities like walks and games
  • Willingness to explore their surroundings

Although a pleased dog may also bark, it shouldn’t be excessive. Here are a few indicators that a dog is stressed or worried:

  • Excessive barking
  • Folded ears
  • Crouching low to the ground
  • Hair standing up
  • Tail stiff, tucked between their legs
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Destructive behavior

If Your Dog Sighs a Lot, Should You Be Concerned?

Most of the time, dog owners do not need to be concerned about their dogs sighing. Instead, you should only worry if you think your companion may be agitated, anxious, or depressed. The good news is that most dogs sigh because they are relaxed and pleased rather than experiencing difficult emotions.

Sighing is typically not a sign of any medical issues but reading your dog’s body language requires considering the big picture, so if a sigh is accompanied by other vocalizations like moans or groans or non-specific symptoms like lethargy, your pet may need to visit the vet.

sick german shepherd dog lying on the floor
Image by: Taisya Korchak, Shutterstock


A lot of the research on canine behavior is focused on body language. This is so because a dog’s body language reveals a lot about how they are feeling and what they are trying to communicate. However, dogs also use vocalizations and sounds to share their desires. They may attempt to connect with you via their sighs.

Most of the time dogs sigh when they are sleepy, relaxed or content. However, as with all behaviors it is important to try and interpret why your dog is sighing based on the context. For example what’s going on around them and what the rest of their body language is trying to tell you.

Featured Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock

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