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Why Does My Dog Stare at Me? 8 Reasons For This Behavior

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Have you ever turned a corner and met your dog’s eyes? It can be eerie, right. He or she sits there staring at you intently. You’re left wondering what could be going on in their minds. The fact is this is normal behavior with dogs, and it can do this even while eating.

But, what causes such behavior? Why do dogs spend so much time staring at their owners?

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Understanding Why Dogs Stare At You

A stare is an intense look that focuses on an eye to eye contact. Usually, the eyes are wide open and carry an almost expressionless look. Both human beings and animals stare to relay particular messages.

For human beings, staring at one another can be a form of communication, and it also increases hormones associated with bonding. The same applies to dogs. When you notice your canine friends staring at you, they’re trying to communicate or bond with you.

Typically, the dog stares when trying to decipher what you’re saying, doing, or project love and affection towards you.

curious looking Basset Fauve de Bretagne dog
Image Credit: Bokehboo Studios, Shutterstock

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Top 8 Reasons Why Your Dos Stares at You

1. Expressing Confusion Staring

Even animals get confused, so expect the same from your dog, especially in unfamiliar places. Usually, one way a dog lets you know it has no clue what to do is tilt the head to the side while staring at you. It’s not an aggressive stare but a soft one that lets you know they need clarification.

white puppy
Image Credit: arvndvisual, Pixabay

Perhaps you asked the dog to do something, and it didn’t budge. Instead, it tilts its head to the side while looking at you. Please take this opportunity to reassure them. It’s best to find another way to pass on the dog’s message to understand and act accordingly.

However, avoid reprimanding because this only adds fuel to the fire. Not only is the dog confused, but now it has become fearful. Instead, see it as a chance to instill some more training and perhaps find a new way to communicate and improve on behavior.

2. Aggressiveness Staring

Never approach a dog that stares directly at you while standing perfectly still with ears pointing upwards. That is a sign of aggression, and it’s getting ready to attack. More often than not, if you return the intent stare, the dog will pounce.

A hard stare is a warning to stay away, and it happens when the dog is near unfamiliar people or dogs. It might not act the same way with you but walk away as fast as possible if it does. Instead, give the dog time to cool down before approaching it again.

Always be on the look-out for this behavior because it can save you from a dangerous situation. Also, if you notice your dog is uncomfortable around other dogs, it’s better to avoid contact.

3. Seeking Affection and Attention

As many canine lovers refer to them, Puppy eyes is when the dog stares at you with longing eyes. You can’t help but be drawn in by the stare.

Dogs can sense when you’re distracted and often have longing eyes when it wants your attention. It moves closer and even lays its heads on your lap. The intent is to course you to start petting them. If you don’t respond, it moves closer and even whines a little.

close up excited dog
Image Credit: David P Baileys, Shutterstock

A dog seeks attention and affection when it doesn’t have much else to do around the house. So it might be time to put on their leash and go for a walk. Also, you can choose to pet them, which is a sign that you understand them.

Therefore, take time to give it some love and attention, and it will be on its way. However, it might not be the best idea to act on this each time because you might never get anything done around the house.

4. You Have Something the Dog Wants

Are you eating some food or holding a toy that the dog wants? When you catch them staring at you with soulful eyes, check around to see what it wants. At times it’s not about affection or attention. It’s about something that you have that it wants.

For instance, if you’re in the kitchen near some snacks, a dog can come in and stare at you. As you approach the shelf with the snack, they get closer, hoping you get some for them. Some dogs go further and nudge you in the right direction, then look into your eyes to see if you understand.

While it’s an excellent way for them to communicate what they want, it might not be a good behavior to cultivate. A dog can quickly get pushy when you keep giving in to its demands. So the best thing to do is be strict and demand obedience. A no means no.

5. The Onset of CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome)

As a dog gets older, watch out for specific ailments brought on by advancing age. One is CDS, characterized by a dog staring at you for no reason, not following commands, and moving about while seeming lost.

If you notice such behavior, ensure you take the dog to the vet immediately. They’ll start having issues with poor sleeping patterns that can create havoc in your life. The vet can prescribe medication to help them deal with the condition, plus particular exercises to help them gain a bit of balance.

senior black lab
Image Credit: labsafeharbor, Pixabay

6. Staring to Read the Room

When you spend lots of time with your dog, they learn to read your body language. That is why you find them staring at you then acting accordingly. For instance, when you get home and take off your shoes, your dog can bring you your sleepers after observing your action.

Such behavior takes time to foster and is often born of watching a routine. If you open the door in the morning, the dog notices and runs out to take the paper or parcel. It can tell by your body language and time of day what you’re about to do. So they participate because they want to be part of the action.

It’s the same behavior that makes guard dogs effective at their work. If your dog notices your body language is tense, they get ready to attack the source of the tension. Be it another dog or an intruder breaking into your home.

7. Wants Some Exercise

Have you ever caught your dog staring at you with its leash in its mouth? That’s a polite way of saying it’s time to go outside. The dog needs some exercise and wants to relieve themselves after being cooped up in the house all day.

If you try to ignore it, it gets closer, bumps into you, or even starts whining loudly. Often this happens when the dog senses it’s time for the daily walk.

8. Expressing Love

A warm stare from your pet can be a good thing. It’s how it shows you that it loves and appreciates you as an owner. Since the dog can’t communicate with words, they do so with an affectionate look. It’s easy to confuse the stare with needing something.

But, you realize that it only lasts a short while, and the dog is off to do something else. It just wanted you to know it loves you, and that is all.

Pembroke Red-Headed Tri-Color Corgi_CorrieMikayla_Shutterstock
Image Credit: CorrieMikayla, Shutterstock

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What to Do If You Don’t Want a Dog To Stare at You

It’s not possible to make your dog stop staring at you 100%. But you can learn to read its look and act accordingly. For instance, if the dog wants attention, decide if it’s the right time to give it to it or not. If you can pet it, well, but if you’re working, be stern when giving your pet direction.

Often it’s not productive to give in to their every need and desire. That will affect its training and behavior. For example, if a dog learns that a longing stare gets it a treat, it’ll never stop pulling at your heartstrings.

Therefore, the right thing to do is remain firm in your commands. But, be careful when reading the stare. If it’s aggression, learn to back off and allow the dog to cool off. Also, if they get aggressive around unfamiliar dogs, try and keep such interactions minimal.

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Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Stare At Me

As a pet owner, learning what different dog stares mean can help you understand one another better. Therefore, you need to pay attention and know how to respond to each stare.

Nevertheless, a stare is how the dog communicates. At times it wants to express love, and other times it is aggression or boredom. The best thing to do is always pay attention.

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Featured Image: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

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