If you are reading this then it’s likely you have noticed your dog staring at you for some time. Whether you are in the living room, the bedroom, your kitchen, or outdoors, it’s as if your dog has picked up a new habit. Starring at you as if something is supposed to happen. For some dog parents, it just funny, for others it can be really unsettling.
So, Why does my dog stare into my eyes? Before we answer that question, you need to understand something about starring at your dog. Staring into a dog’s eye for a long time can be interpreted by your dog as a challenge or you trying to intimidate them. This is more the case especially when you are the one initiating the staring fest.
If your dog is initiating the staring fest or you are trying to use it to communicate a message, then it is another scenario altogether, just remember not to initiate the starring for too long.
With that out of the way, the answer to the question “Why does my dog sit and stare at me?” can be broken down into the following reasons:
- Your dog wants something from you.
- Your dog is confused.
- Your dog is trying to show you love.
- Your dog is trying to read your body language.
- Your dog may be showing signs of aggressiveness.
- Your dog may be experiencing some medical problems.
- Your dog may be suffering from Separation anxiety.
Let’s address each of these reasons and how they make your dog stare at you.
1.Your dog wants something from you.
Your dog stares at you when they want something from you. Be it treats, seeking your attention, asking you for food, etc. Your dog would initiate the stare. Why would they do this? The simple answer is that it usually works for them. Their daily interaction with us has taught them, that they can get things from us when they initiate the stare at the right moment.
A perfect example would be when you are eating at home. If you have ever given your dog some scraps of your food while having a meal, you can be assured that at your next meal, your dog would be readily present, staring at you in expectation. This is the same look your dog would give you when they complete an obedience training task. If you are used to rewarding them with treats, they would give you that look of expectation when they complete a task.
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Also, your dog would prefer to sit and stare at you as this would get a better result from you than barking at you, clawing, or nipping at you.
2.Your dog is confused.
Your dog may be trying to figure out what you are telling them or what you want at that moment. There is always some lapse in communication between us and our dogs and this leads to confusion. Your dog’s body language will most likely be a tilted head with some form of soft starring. In some cases, you will see their ear pricked as if trying hard to understand you.
If you find your dog staring at you with these physical attributes, you need to take a step back and try to communicate more clearly. It is very likely that your dog is trying hard at that moment to understand what you want and the best thing you can do for him or her is to be deliberate and clearer in your communication. If need be, go back to the basic dog training methods.
3.Your dog is trying to show you love.
If you find your dog staring at you in a relaxed manner and from your observation, there doesn’t seem to be anything which they want or are demanding from you, then your dog may be trying to communicate that they love us. There is some research that shows that when we share mutual stare with our dogs in this manner, it enables the release of oxytocin in both dog and man giving a warm feeling similar to the feeling a mother and child feels when they look into the eyes of each other.
Some physical attributes that may accompany this kind of stare include softly wagging their tails, relaxed ears, and normal pupil size. Be careful not to turn this into a staring fest as it would make it lose its initial meaning and turn into a challenge.
4.Your dog is trying to read your body language.
Your dog is always trying to put together information about you and the things you do. Because of the barriers in communication between you and your dog, they have to depend on their observation abilities to understand us and the way we behave.
This can look creepy at times but it is the only way they can make sense of us and our daily routine. This also helps them to understand how they can fit into our lives without being a nuisance.
5.Your dog may be showing signs of aggressiveness.
If your dog is staring at you with dilated pupils, stiff tail and body, pinned ears (either forward or backward), heads lowered, and sharp body shifts, there is a very high chance that your dog is showing signs of aggression. Mind you, this aggressive behavior usually leads to them biting and all the signs mentioned above do not need to be there for the bite to happen.
If you are interacting with your dog and you notice any of these signs, it is better to back off and let your dog be for a while or show your dominance using some of the training techniques you learned. For us, we believe the most important thing is to understand what is making your dog act aggressive in the first place for example is it the presence of a particular animal or pet? Does he act aggressively when you approach his food bowl? Understanding simple factors like this would help to better inform you on the best line of action to take.
6.Your dog may be experiencing some medical problems.
This can be the case with elderly dogs. There is a level of forgetfulness, a mental capacity decline which shows itself in them not being able to obey basic commands and constant staring. All these are symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in your dog.
Unfortunately for us, there is nothing much you can do about it, your dog is old, so the best thing is to be up to date with whatever medication prescribed by your vet doctor and make your dog as comfortable as you possibly can.
7.Your dog may be suffering from Separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a major issue in the dog world. In summary, your dog would not want to be away from you even for a second and misbehaves when you leave them alone. Dogs with separation are very watchful of their owners, they monitor your movement to make sure they don’t lose sight of you and would stare the hell out of you.
Fortunately, separation anxiety is a behavioral problem and so it can be addressed by making the things that cause the anxiety to look positive and acceptable. You can read more about Dealing with Separation Anxiety in dogs here.
We have addressed the possible reasons why your dog would sit and stare at you. You are now in a better position to understand and deal with your dog better, but there is also another perspective to consider. If the behavior of starring started recently, you should really look around you and find out what has changed. Did a new person or pet come into the household? Have you started a new training program? Did you just return from a long journey?
Small things like that mean a lot to our dogs, even if they don’t mean much to us. In the end, all your dog needs from you is a better understanding of how to behave around you to get the best of you. That includes bonding and being secured in his place around you.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.