While you’re reading this post, is your dog staring you right now? Maybe that’s what got you googling in the first place. Well, we can assure you for a fact that you are not the only one who is in this position. Scientists, philosophers, dog enthusiasts and canine behaviorists all have spent countless of hours theorizing over this one particular question; why does my dog stare at me? Unfortunately, there has been no absolute answer to this question as of now.
Among all the behavior of your dog, their stare is the most amusing of all, if not outright creepy at times. Why? That’s because whether they are looking at you, or a new visitor or a steak plate, you cannot really tell what’s intriguing them. However, there have been some studies on this pattern of behavior.
Scroll down and to find out whether it’s a good thing or something to be concerned about when your dog stares at you.
Attention would be a bit overrated and can therefore be rephrased as “the look of love”. And when your dog gives you the look of love, they expect you to notice them. A study in 2015 revealed that dogs and humans get along well by looking into each other’s eyes. When you gaze into your dog’s eyes, the levels of oxytocin (a hormone which promotes social bonding) surge in both you and your dog. You might misinterpret this behavior as being creepy but in reality, they are showing fondness and friendship. An interesting way of explaining whether they are relaxed and not fearful is when your dog’s ears are up, mouth open and tail in a neutral position. You can stay rest assured that they are stress-free. It’s actually a good sign when your dog wants attention; it shows how happy and affectionate they are towards you.
While engaging yourself in a task, do you ever talk to yourself and find that your pup is watching you and following every word? The reason why your dog might be staring at you is that he/she is trying to figure out if you want anything from them. They surely don’t want to miss a single cue or get yelled at for doing something the wrong way. Moreover, they are just curious about what their hooman is doing and simply wanting to be a part of it.
Whenever you look at your dog and find them staring at you, it’s probably because they are yearning for something. In fact, most of their look always tell us that they want something. From “feed me” to “throw the ball” to “let’s go for a walk” and not to forget about the infamous belly rubs, they have only one means to convey it all: by staring. But if they are already engaged in a specific action and staring at you in a certain way such as holding a rope in his mouth, this could mean they want your involvement. Dogs love it when you play with them, but they don’t want to bark and risk getting you annoyed. So they will just stare till you give in to their puppy dog eyes.
Another reason why dogs stare at you is because they want you to tell them what they are supposed to do. This is somewhat related to confusion because they are not always aware of what’s going on. Suppose you and your dog are at the midst of a training session or any other activity, they would stare at you to get a direction from you on what to do next. Don’t yell at your furry fellow. Nicely explain them with further instructions. If you don’t, who else will!
There is this one stare that is important for every dog owners to understand. Some dogs have an aggressive stare that tells us that they are trying to say “Don’t mess with me.” But before you assume that your dog is staring at your aggressively, pay attention to the rest of their body language. Is it a hard stare that they are giving you? Are their eyes unblinking and they have got a stiff posture? Then that’s aggression. Your dog is likely to stare at you like that if you reach for a toy or something that your dog is guarding. A dog might also appear to be aggressive if you go near them when they are feeling sick or if they are injured and they don’t want you to come closer. Tend to your dog immediately with caution and try calming them down and figure out what is causing them discomfort.
6. Lack of Trust
More often than not, your dog will stare at you lovingly. They can occasionally show negative emotions as well – watch out and be observant of the signals that your dog is giving you. As per experts, your dog will watch you and your movements towards them if they are afraid of you. This is more common with strangers, houseguests and visitors. Look for signs like ears back or tails tucked, which normally indicates fearful or untrusting feelings of your dog. In addition, they might also avoid direct eye contact with you or the person that they don’t trust. This kind of stare is more common among newly adopted dogs, especially if they are shelter dogs who have been exposed to violence and neglect most of their lives.
7. Borderline Obsession
In this case, you may find your dog fixated on inanimate objects, shadows or even the walls and not just you. Canine behaviourists suggest that this may indicate serious issues, especially if it becomes their habit. Suppose there’s nothing on/behind the wall and your dog is still staring at it, it would be considered something anomalous. It attributes to floaters – the harmless little flecks that float around our vision – which can result from stress, abnormal brain activity or other medical issues. Take note of this kind of behaviour and visit your vet ASAP! This is particularly emphasized because it can intervene with your dog’s quality of life. They might become obsessed with this and choose to stare at walls rather than eating and sleeping.
8. Calm Staring
You might feel guilty about leaving your furry best friend alone in your house while you leave for work for the next 8 – 10 hours. Your dog might also be facing anxiety. This is usually called separation anxiety and they might chew your furniture, urinate, bark or howl to keep you back with them. However, if you were able to train your dog from the very first about the separation anxiety, then they will calmly stare at you while you leave for work. That’s another kind of stare that dogs can give to their owners.
Check out our review of the Best Calming Aid for Dogs.
9. Looking for Clues
When your dog is staring at you, know that he’s observing your behaviour to find out how it’s going to impact them. Knowing this made you a little self-conscious, is it? Moreover, dogs are far better at reading our behaviours than we are at studying theirs. They exactly know when you’re leaving for work, when you’re not feeling well and when you’re happy. So, your furry friend often stares at you to figure out how you’re feeling and what they can do to make you feel better.
10. Showing gratification
Last but not the least, this is a very obvious one. Our pets stare at us because they are showing us gratification. Just gaze into your dog’s eyes and you’ll see a definite softness in their eyes. This is a natural and voluntary behaviour of your dog. You are the master, and they love showing you their gratitude for taking care of them and feeding them. You shouldn’t hold your dog’s head still and stare into their eyes hoping for a shared loving gaze. This could be a common mistake made by your child, who often play with your dog. Your child might take this action as something playful but your dog might not react affectionately to this. But if your dog is staring at you with all the puppy eye, it just has one meaning – a sign that he loves you unconditionally!
Why do Dogs Stare when They Poop?
This is probably another one of those common morning scenarios and that’s when it hits you, “why is he staring at me while he’s pooping? That’s gross!” There is a legitimate reason behind it which will certainly surprise you.
Veterans say that don’t get offended if your dog glares at you while pooping because the poor thing is just making sure that you have his back! Moreover, defecation is one of those times when your dog is most vulnerable. The posture that he is at to perform his business tells us that he is not ready to flee or fight. Plus, it is very difficult for him to escape a danger or defend himself in that position. Your dog considers you a part of his pack which is why he looks at you for safety cues while he’s busy doing his business.
In addition to that, if you have taught your dog to be pooping in an appropriate location (say in the garden), this results in looking for attention and treats. Hence, they look up to you expecting a goodie.
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How to Stop the Staring Problem?
Your pet staring at you is NOT a medical issue 99% of the time but might definitely creep you out often. There are ways you could limit them staring at you. Experts suggest that you should catch up on your canine’s behaviour earlier when they are still young in order to prevent it from becoming a habit. As time passes, this just becomes a part of their daily routine and they keep repeating the same thing over and over again. You may interrupt this staring behaviour issue by treating them with a special treat, petting or brushing and/or giving them a fascinating toy that will keep them glued to it. You wouldn’t want to frighten your dog. All you need to do is redirect them in positive ways to avoid them from staring at you if you feel too uncomfortable with their gaze on you.
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So, what is the Best Answer?
You still might have the question lingering around your mind; why your dog is staring at you? It’s basically all about attention. They crave your involvement in every way possible. Dogs are social creatures and great companions. All they want is to be loved. Since your dog already knows what you might be thinking will influence your behaviour towards them, they keep staring at you to know what and how you feel.
Your Pup Depends on You
To your little pup, you are their whole world. They depend on you for everything. In the end, it’s all up to you: whether you were able to fulfill your canine’s needs; food, play, exercise, affection and care. You just have to keep them safe, protected and healthy, keeping a close eye on where they are and what they are doing. Also, ensure that you’ve covered the pet health insurance for those unexpected trips to the dog ER or prolonged medical care.
We are sure now you have your question answered. The answer is mostly positive. Always remember, your dog is your most loyal friend and he wouldn’t want to lose you in any way. So, the next time you catch your doggie staring at you curiously, don’t assume anything. Take a closer look at their body language and you’ll be able to discover what they are specifically trying to communicate.
Does your dog stare into your eyes? How does that make you feel? Share your feelings with us in the comments!
- JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM, Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?, PetMD
- Dr. Patty Khuly VMD, Why Does My Dog… Stare at Me?, Vetstreet