Have you had that eerie feeling that someone is watching you? Dog owners know this feeling all too well, as their dogs often are staring at them! Learn the meaning behind this staring behavior to uncover what your dog is really thinking about you.
While humans usually aren't in imminent danger, we still feel uncomfortable when we think we're being stared down or given excessive attention. And so do dogs.
Oddly though, pups don't seem to mind being the one that stares rather than the object of the staring attention.
Why does my dog stare at me when I eat, sleep, and generally live life?
A dog staring at his owner is rarely a threatening move, but it will have a few other meanings behind it.
Let's dig into the reasons why your dog is staring at you to discover what he's trying to communicate.
Reasons Your Dog Stares At You
Reason #1: Your Dog Needs Training + Directions
Dogs are pack animals that naturally learn to follow their pack leaders. As your pup's alpha, you are the one they look to for direction if they're unsure what to do next.
This is especially true during puppy training sessions when your dog knows that you have expectations of their behavior and they have a strong need to perform well and please you.
A well-trained pup will take cues from you beyond training sessions, including when you're out on walks and interacting with the outside world.
Reason #2: Your Dog is Bored or Wants Attention
A dog's life is something that makes most of us a little envious – so much freedom and so little responsibility, a stark contrast from most adult humans’ lives.
Why does my dog follow me everywhere?
All of a dog's free time can lead to boredom, and we are one of our dog's most significant sources of entertainment.
They know we'll see them following and staring, and they hope that it will prompt us to give them a little attention.
Staring is one of the least offensive and most "polite" ways a pup can ask for our attention, rather than barking, whining, or misbehaving.
Reason #3: Your Dog Needs Protection
One of the most awkward eye contact situations of all time is when a dog awkwardly stares at us while they poop.
There is a good reason for this behavior other than making everyone uncomfortable – a dog is in a vulnerable position and ensures you'll protect them as needed if a threat arises.
Reason #4: Your Dog Wants Something From You
Somewhere along the way, most pups learn that if they look at us when they want or need something, they'll often get it. That's why a dog will stare when they're hungry, need a bathroom break, or want something we can give them.
Those longing, puppy eyes begging for a piece of our dinner can be pretty irresistible, but stay strong!
Why does my dog stare at me when I sleep?
If your pup stares at you from the floor while you sleep, likely, they want up into bed with you. If you're down for co-sleeping, investing in a bed ramp for dogs can give your dog the freedom to get up and down as they please without your help.
Reason #5: Your Dog is Confused
If your dog looks at you with a tilted head and curious eyes, they're struggling to understand what is going on around them.
- Strange noises can quickly turn your pup into a hilarious bobblehead.
- More than simple confusion, a pup will tilt his head as they try to figure out what we want from them – they know it's something, but they're not quite sure what, exactly.
- You'll often see the tilted head stare during training sessions, which is a clear sign you may be pushing the training a little too hard.
Try dialing the practice back to the basics and proceed at a slower pace.
Reason #6: Your Dog is Feeling Tense and Agitated
Before a dog bites, it will give a warning look, which can often last for what feels like just a split-second.
If you're with an unfamiliar dog or one that struggles with behavioral issues, they may be protective of their bodies, belongings, bed, and food.
- If you're approaching a pup and they start to give you the stink eye, back off immediately and observe the dog's body language.
- When a dog feels aggressive, it'll also show a stiff tail, unmoving body, closed mouth, wide pupils, a lowered head, and pinned ears.
- An aggressive and overly-protective pup may need time to warm up and become more familiar with you or some professional behavioral training.
Reason #7: Your Dog is Expressing Their Love
One of the reasons to get a dog is for a strong, sweet bond like no other!
Eye contact between dogs and humans strengthens our bonds and makes both of our brains release feel-good love chemicals into the body, like oxytocin.
So sometimes, our pups are merely staring at us to feel that close, loving connection.
Reason #8: Your Dog is on the Prowl at Playtime
Herding and hunting dogs have instincts some other pups don't, as they're genetically programmed to be on high alert when working on the farm or hunting.
You may find these dog breeds deeply concentrated when they're amped with excitement during playtime, as they stare at you with laser focus!
Final Note: Why Do Dogs Stare At You?
Most of the reasons a dog stares at you are completely harmless and often affectionate.
To recap, here are the common reasons why our canines stare:
- They're looking to you for direction;
- They want attention and are feeling bored;
- They're in a vulnerable position and need protection;
- They want something from you;
- They're confused by their surroundings;
- They're feeling tense and agitated;
- They're expressing their love and affection;
- And they're highly engaged in playtime.
We hope these tips help you to decipher what your pup's stares mean!