Why Does My Dog Stare at Me
Sometimes our dogs do funny things that we can’t seem to explain. Whether it’s making noises, strange behaviors or giving funny looks, as an experienced puppy parent you’ve witnessed it all. However, sometimes when our precious pups make these sounds or faces, you can’t help but wonder what they’re thinking. So, in this article we’ve compiled some of the top reasons why your dog might be staring at you to provide some clarity on the situation.
Possibly the most common reason for your dog staring at you is their desire to show you affection. If you’re busy, watching TV, working, eating or doing something that stops you from petting or playing with your pup, they might just stare at you affectionately to let you know they’re around. After all, our canine companions are known as ‘man’s (or woman’s) best friend.’ If you have a particularly close bond with your dog then expect lots of staring as they show their affection for you. This staring is usually accompanied by squinted eyes, an open, smiley mouth and gentle tail wagging.
If you’ve told your pooch to do something and they haven’t understood, or if they’re awaiting a command, they might just sit and stare at you until you make it clearer. This comes from your dog’s obedience and desire to please you by following orders. So, if you bring out your dog’s leash or a ball, expect them to stare you down until you tell them what to do next.
Sometimes our dogs stare at us simply because they want something tasty to eat, something fun to play with or your attention. Other than barking, dogs don’t really have any way of telling us that they want something so staring often works as an alternative, especially if you’ve trained your dog not to bark in the house. So, if you’re eating food and you notice your dog staring at you, it’s likely that they want some food too and they won’t stop looking until they get it. Likewise, if you bring out a toy for your dog to play with, they’ll sometimes sit with the toy while staring at you, indicating that they want you to play too.
This behavior is usually learned through repetition as the pup grows up. If you regularly give your pup food while you’re eating because of dog staring then over time they will have learned that staring results in being fed. So, if you regularly do something because your pup is staring at you then that’s likely to be the reason for the staring. Although this isn’t necessarily a problem, it can be reassuring to know why your dog does a certain action, such as staring, especially if they do it frequently.
Instincts are a huge aspect of puppy behavior which shouldn’t be overlooked. Most dog breeds have instinctive behaviors which have been developed and instilled in them for decades, if not centuries. These behaviors include the need for acceptance and protection. If your pup feels threatened, uncomfortable or generally wants reassurance of your protection then they might just stare at you. This kind of behavior can be seen when a dog defecates outside as they usually stare at you when they do this. That strange behavior is a sign that they are in a vulnerable situation and seek protection from you, their owner.
Dogs also seek acceptance through staring as they are excellent at mirroring your emotions. If you are noticeably happy then your pup might mirror your emotion, and if you seem sad or upset then your pup may comfort you. This isn’t because your pup can read your mind (although that would be pretty cool), it’s because our dogs learn to read our expressions and emotions so they can mirror them. In turn, this improves their ability to bond with us and creates a stronger emotional relationship.
Aggression or Uncertainty
Unfortunately not all reasons for dog staring are good ones. Aggressive dogs or those who are in an uncertain or uncomfortable situation may try to convey their feelings through staring at you. If your pup is introduced to a new person (or multiple people) and they feel uneasy, this feeling can turn to aggression, particularly in pups which haven’t been socialized enough while young. In a situation like this one, your canine companion will usually look at you for protection, reassurance or almost as if they’re looking for back up. If your dog begins to show this behavior and it is accompanied by other aggressive behaviors, you might need to continue training or seek professional advice. Aggression can be a stubborn trait to phase out so you shouldn’t feel nervous about approaching a professional. By noticing this behavior and trying to fix it, you’ll give your pup the best chance at curbing the behavior.
Busting the Myth
Many pet parents believe that if their pup stares at them often then it means that something has gone wrong. If your pup really is trying to tell you something is wrong, whether it’s pain, anxiety or some other problem, they’ll typically try to grab your attention more drastically and through other accompanying behaviors. So try not to worry the next time you wonder “why does my dog stare at me?” If you notice other concerning behaviors then contact the vet and inform them in case there is a problem worth knowing about. Your vet will usually ask a few questions over the phone before carrying out some tests, if necessary, to achieve a proper diagnosis. However, if your dog stares at you a lot and doesn’t show any other signs of something being wrong, it’s most likely one of the other reasons we’ve listed above. Our dogs are intelligent creatures and they can communicate with us quite clearly if they need to. Staring is simply one of the easiest ways for them to talk to us.