Why Does My Dog Stare at Me? | DogExpress
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Why Does My Dog Stare at Me

Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? Your every move is being watched?

Perhaps while you’re watching tv or scrolling through Instagram. Or you’re curled up in bed reading your favorite book.

When all of a sudden you look up, and sure enough, your dog is staring at you. It’s almost as if you can physically feel their eyes bore into you.

Reasons Why Your Dog Stares at You

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that question. Dogs stare for many different reasons. But most of the time they are just trying to communicate with us. However, not all eye contact is the same.

So, it is important to know ‘why’ they do it. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the possible reasons why a dog might be staring at us.

#1 They’re Trying to Read You

Dogs are intelligent animals. They can sense your moods, and read your body language and facial expressions. By watching you, they are trying to figure out what you’re up to and how it will impact them.

Essentially, they are waiting for information from us so we can tell them what will happen next. For instance, when you grab your dog’s leash, they know it is time for a walk. Or, when you pick up their food bowl, they know it’s dinner time.

Sometimes we even deliberately teach our dogs to stare at us. Words like “watch me ” or “look” are signals to get your dog to focus on you, for a chance to earn a reward. Not only does it ensure your dog is paying attention, but it plays a key role when used in positive reinforcement training.

Maintaining eye contact is also useful if you are working as a team. For instance, search and rescue, agility sports, or obedience competitions.

#2 They’re Confused

While dogs are incredibly skilled at reading our emotions, that doesn’t mean they can always understand us.

If your dog is staring at you, with its head tilted to the side, it is a sign they’re confused. They are having trouble reading your facial cues and are trying to figure out what you want.

 You might have noticed this when you ask your dog to do something instead, they just stare at you, which means the cue wasn’t clear enough or you were inconsistent in your training.

 To make it easier, decide what you want your dog to do and what you don’t want them to do.

Then start with an easy cue, reward the behavior and keep the training sessions short.  If your dog is not successful in one or two attempts, break it down into simpler steps and try again. Remember to always be patient and consistent with your dog.

 #3 Your Dog Loves You

Although dogs can’t put their love into words, they do however have a large number of ways to show it. Eye contact is one of them.

Engaging in a prolonged gaze with your dog is a sign of trust, love, and affection. Studies have shown when a dog stares at its humans, with a loving gaze, the brain triggers the release of oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for deepening your bond and building trust.

But, in the canine world, direct eye contact is commonly seen as a challenge or a confrontation. So, always pay attention to a dog’s body language before engaging in any eye contact. Especially with an unfamiliar dog. The dog might see it as a threat and react accordingly.

#4 They Want Attention

Despite being showered with affection every day; your dog will still stare just to get your attention.

A belly rub treats, or a cuddle session can go a long way to let them know they’re loved and accepted.

On the other hand, too much affection can also lead to overpampering and unwanted behaviors. To avoid this, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and include them in as many activities as possible.

#5 They Want to Tell You Something

Dogs can’t talk to us, but they’ve learned that eye contact can lead to attention or to tell us something they need.

For instance, your dog will stare at you while walking back and forth to the door when they want to go outside. Or, if your dog is hungry, they are likely to look at you while standing near their bowl.

Similarly, some dogs even use staring as a way to get what they want. Begging for food with those adorable “puppy-eyes” is one of the ways they do that.

While you’re probably tempted to sneak in a few table snacks every now and then, encouraging the behavior is going to be that much harder to break.

Instead, you could train your dog to chew on a food toy, take them out for a stroll, or keep them in a separate room while you eat.

#6 They’re Trying to Be Aggressive

Unfortunately, for most dogs, staring is often a sign of aggression. Though, it’s unlikely that your dog will stare at you aggressively because they know you. But, with unfamiliar dogs and new people, a “hard stare” is often interpreted as a type of challenge or threat.

This is usually accompanied by a stiff posture, ears-back, and a closed mouth. If your dog is staring at you to attack, back away slowly and give them plenty of space.

Word of caution: If your dog shows any sign of stress or aggression, consult your vet or an animal behaviorist immediately for advice.

#7 They’re Experiencing Cognitive Dysfunction

 Sometimes a dog that fixates on its owner or stares off into space, shows a serious issue. This behavior could be a sign of cognitive dysfunction, also known as dog dementia.

It is very similar to Alzheimer’s disease and found in one in three dogs over the age of 11.

The most common symptoms of cognitive decline in dogs are: –

  • Memory loss
  • Aimlessly wandering in the house
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to ask your vet for advice.

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Staring At Me All The Time?

By now you know dogs use eye contact as a way to communicate with you. Whether it is for a tasty snack, to go outside, or just to show how much they love you.

But, to find out exactly why your dog is staring at you, you’ll have to pay close attention to their body language. The more you understand your dog’s vocabulary, the closer your bond will be. After all, the eyes are the window to your dog’s soul.

Author Bio

Avi Contractor is a freelance writer who specializes in content marketing and copywriting for startups. She works with B2B and B2C companies creating relevant and engaging content that converts viewers into customers. When she’s not busy writing you can find her hanging out with her two cats and three dogs. You can contact Avi on LinkedIn for information on her services.
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