Have you ever been sat watching TV, when out of the corner of your eye you notice Fido staring into your very soul? Or when you’re sat down for dinner and your pooch is sat expectantly at your feet… And you find yourself thinking, ‘why does my dog stare at me all the time?’
We’ve all been there.
If there’s one thing dogs do well, it’s staring at their owners. And the reason why has crossed the minds of owners since man and dogs became best friends. But there are a number of reasons why your dog might stare at you. And it’s all about communication.
Your dog wants something from you
Dogs often stare at us because we have something they want. Whether that’s a tasty treat, a toy or a belly rub. Dogs quickly learn how to get our attention through certain behaviours. And you may have unknowingly encouraged the behaviour by giving your dog a reward when they stared.
Maybe you petted your dog, played with them or fed them their dinner. Just as dogs bark or paw at us when they want something, staring is just another way they communicate to their owners. But either way, you may have accidentally trained your dog to stare at you when they want your attention.
Your dog is showing they love you
For some dogs, staring deeply into our eyes is their way of showing how much they love us. For our dogs, we become their entire world. They become fascinated by everything we do and want to spend all our time with us. By staring into your eyes, your dog could be showing you their affection in one of the best ways they know how.
Your dog is trying to tell you something
We often wonder what our dogs are thinking and wish they could tell us how they feel. But staring could be your dog’s way of trying to tell you there’s something they need.
Rather than using guilt trips because there’s something they want like a treat or your affection, your dog may be trying to tell you they need assistance. Whether to open the door for a toilet break, because their water bowl is empty, or you’ve missed their dinner time.
Dogs can stare to manipulate their owners, but there can also be a genuine reason you need to pay attention to. So always check the essentials first before you brush it off as attention seeking.
Your dog is trying to read you
Dogs and humans have a special connection. And it’s incredible how in tune we can be with our precious pooches. They can sense when we’re happy or sad. They can read our tone of voice and body language more than most other animals.
And because we have that bond, our dogs often look to us for cues on what’s going to happen next. They will stare and wait for those subtle signals. Like picking up a lead that means they’re going for a walk. Or picking up their food bowl means food is on the way.
This is especially true during training sessions. Your dog will gaze at you intently and wait for the next command so they can receive their tasty reward. Which is why most dogs love learning new tricks and obedience commands. They get to spend time with their favourite people and get rewarded for doing things they enjoy anyway.
Your dog is looking for reassurance
Since dogs take cues from their owners, they also look to us for confirmation that everything will be ok. Have you ever noticed your dog stares at you while pooping? That’s because it’s a time when your dog is most vulnerable. Your dog is in no position to fight or flee should they encounter a threat. So your dog looks at you for reassurance that you will protect them should anything happen.
Your dog may also stare at you when you’re leaving your home without them. They’re looking to you for comfort that you’ll be back and there’s nothing to worry about.
When staring is a cause for concern
There are times when staring can be a cause for concern. A prolonged stare can also signal aggression and a sign you should back off and give your dog space. This can be a problem for dogs with resource guarding issues. If your dog gives you a hard stare if you approach their food, bed or a toy, it’s not wise to return a stare as it could be considered a direct challenge.
If your dog’s stare is also accompanied by a lowered head with their ears pinned back, a stiff tail, and you can see the whites of their eyes, leave them be. In particular, you should also retreat if your dog bares their teeth, as this is likely to turn into a warning snap or a bite.
There’s no question our dog’s staring can be odd and even annoying at times. And it may take some time before you really understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you. But there’s nothing wrong with longingly gazing into your dog’s eyes every now and then. And in fact, it can be a great bonding experience to strengthen your relationship. As long as you have a healthy canine-human relationship, bring on the mutual staring!
We’d love to hear your dog staring stories. Is there anything weird and wonderful your dog does when they’re staring at you? Let us know in the comments below.
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