Do you know those times when you can feel your dog staring at you? You turn and lock eyes with them. You wonder with curiosity, “Why does my dog stare at me so often?” Many dog owners experience this and want to discover the secrets behind these stares.
Canines use staring to communicate with all animals, including us. We can’t decipher all the inner workings of a dog’s mind. Using certain behaviors as cues helps us understand what a stare might mean.
Your dog stares at you for many reasons. It may be to show affection or aggression. We compiled a list of nine reasons why your dog stares at you. With understanding comes greater communication and a chance to improve your relationship with your furry friend.
Benefits of Staring Into Your Dog’s Eyes
When your dog stares at you, it can feel uncomfortable. Dogs are curious about our behaviors because we are different animals to them. They often use staring to communicate affection or ask for attention.
Humans also use staring to communicate with each other. In fact, it’s a crucial skill to learn as an infant. It strengthens the bond between individuals and releases a hormone called oxytocin or the love hormone.
Amazingly, Japanese researchers found that the same thing happens to dogs when they stare at each other or their owners. Their brains release oxytocin, and a stronger bond develops between you and your precious pooch.
Using the power of the stare with your dog can improve your communication during training. Learning to feel comfortable with staring while giving commands to your dog increases understanding. It helps your dog stay focused on the task at hand.
If you and your dog enjoy competing in dog sports, eye contact can take you to the next level. Staring minimizes distractions and makes you more in tune with your dog’s movements and vice versa.
9 Reasons Why Your Dog Stares At You
Dogs use their stares to communicate many different things. Most staring is harmless, but it can sometimes mean something more. Here are the nine reasons why dogs stare at you.
1. They’re Trying to Understand Your Body Language
Humans and dogs don’t speak the same language, so we rely on other means of communication. Body language and eye contact help us understand each other’s needs.
Dogs use nonverbal cues to decipher your actions and figure out what might happen next. They may stare at you as you reach for the cupboard that houses their lead, anticipating a walk.
Canines stare at their owners for confirmation of what’s to come. When they see you bring out the lead, they can start jumping for joy because they know their assumptions were correct.
2. Dogs Stare to Show Their Love
Your dog may stare at you with soft, longing eyes for what appears to be no reason at all. Dogs stare at their owners to show love.
The release hormones that make are the same as those produced in humans during infant and mother bonding. Staring at your dog with loving eyes in return helps build trust and strengthens your connection.
3. They Might Be Hungry and Looking for Food
Dogs will stare at you when they are hungry and want a snack. They may whimper a little along with a deep stare if you’re running late with their dinner.
Canines also use their stare to elicit sympathy when they want what you’re eating. If you have a delicious t-bone steak, you might find your dog giving you the cutest puppy-eye stares to convince you that they need the meat more than you.
4. If Your Dog Feels Confused, It May Stares At You
Your dog may stare at you when they’re feeling confused. You’ll recognize it as soon as you see it. The tilted head, pricked ears, and curious eyes let you know that your dog doesn’t know what’s happening.
You’ll see your dog give you this stare when you teach them new tricks. They might look at you with confusion when they can’t remember the command you’re giving them.
A confused look may also be simple curiosity as they try to understand why you keep singing that strange song.
5. They’re Waiting for a Command From You
Dogs stare at the owners when waiting for a command, especially during training sessions. Developing good eye contact with your furry friend will give them a better understanding of your instructions. Trained dogs want their owners to tell them what to do in most situations.
A stare can mean your dog isn’t sure what to do next and wants you to give them some direction. Maybe you’re out for a walk and find a crossroads. Your dog may stare at you while you decide which way is best.
6. Your Dog Is Trying to Communicate A Desire With You
Of course, all stares are a form of communication with dogs. In this case, we’re talking about communicating a desire or need. Maybe they want to go out into the backyard. Sometimes they’re trying to show you something.
Your dog may try to get your attention with a long, hard stare. It uses its puss-in-boots eyes to draw you away from your task so that they can get what they need.
Remember to pay attention to these cues as your dog may need help with something serious. You want to ensure they are feeling healthy and safe at all times.
7. They’re Being Aggressive
Staring can also be a sign of danger. It’s best to break eye contact with a dog if it stares at you with its teeth bared and hair raised. You may notice that your dog’s body gets very stiff, and they begin to growl.
It’s not common for dogs to stare at their owners in this way, but sometimes they do. In those situations, remember to back away slowly without turning your back. Dogs in this state are usually afraid or worried, so try to minimize their discomfort.
8. They Might Be Experiencing Cognitive Impairment
Sadly, some staring is a sign of illness or cognitive impairment. Older dogs get locked into long stares with little expression in their eyes. They may stare at you or nothing at all. In some cases, it’s a sign of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Aimlessly wandering around the house and garden
- Looks of disorientation and confusion
- Forgetfulness, especially of learned commands
- Doesn’t respond to their name
- Experiences frequent trembles
If you notice the aimless staring and these other symptoms in your precious pup, be sure to contact your vet. CCD doesn’t have a cure, but you can use coping mechanisms to minimize your dog’s discomfort.
9. They Stare at You for Protection When Feeling Vulnerable
No one wants to think about it, but your dog sometimes stares at you when they’re having a poop. You might be thinking, “ew, gross, but it’s true. Why do they stare?”
When dogs are doing their business, they are extremely vulnerable. They may stare at you to comfort themselves. You are a source of protection against any potential threats in their eyes.
If you are in a dangerous situation, your dog may stare at you to feel safe and wait for guidance that will protect them.
Final Wrap Up
“Why does my dog stare at me?” you ask? Most often to show you love and affection to build a stronger bond with you as their alpha dog. Dogs have many reasons for giving us those long, lingering stares.
Remember to monitor other common symptoms of CDD if you notice your dog giving you an abnormal amount of empty stares.
Learning to understand what each stare means can help you take better care of your precious pooch and boost communication. Staring is uncomfortable at times, but it’s a powerful tool to help you connect with your dog.