Why does my dog stare at me? There is no disputing the fact that our dogs love us, but what do those long doting gazes or intense stares mean?
Does your face besot your dog, or does he want something from you? We would love to know what goes on in the minds of our pets.
We have often over pondered the question – why does a dog sit and stare at you?
In this article, we will look in more detail at the reasons as to why your dog does this so that you can understand your dog even better and enjoy communicating with them.
In this article, we will discuss the following:
- Why does my dog stare at me?
- Do dogs love their owners?
- How dogs “Read” us
- How to tell if your dog wants or needs something
- Should you stare back at your dog?
- What to do if you don’t like your dog staring at you
Why does my dog stare at me?
The reason dogs are staring is either they are trying to communicate with us or waiting for us to tell them something.
Each dog has its personality, and over time you will learn the difference. Staring is a form of communication, and they will stare at you, the other dogs in the house, the animals outside, and even the TV. Why?
Some dogs will stare at you to get and even at strangers (and pretty much everything else). Why they do this is because your dog wants to know what is going on.If your dog is staring at you, then it might be doing one or more of these things:
- They are concerned about you
- They want something
- They are ready to take action
- They are curious about what you’re doing (or not doing)
- It’s a game to them (they like the attention)
- In senior dogs, its a sign of cognitive dysfunction
Do Dogs Love Their Owners?
If there is one thing that our pet dogs are known for, it’s their loyalty. Dogs give us companionship and unconditional love too. When you look into your dog’s eyes, you know that it must be the love they are feeling.
Many skeptics will insist that your dog does not love you in the way you think of love and that your dog always has an ulterior motive for showing their affections.
For example, they cuddle you when they need heat or follow you around and stare into your eyes to communicate that they want food or need to be taken outside for a walk to go to the toilet.
You will, of course, look back at these people and say – You’re not a dog owner, what do you know about a dog’s love? You would be right in saying so.
The fact is that you are critical to your dog. You provide your dog with everything he needs, as a parent provides for a child, creating a solid attachment and bond between you. Your dog knows and cares about your health and well-being, and when you get sick or feel sad, your dog will sense this.
Related Topic: More on Dog Behaviors
Dogs are also very protective of their owners, sensing when danger lurks and alerting you to it. You and your dog are families. You are part of the same pack, and a dog looks out for its pack members in the same way that friends and family look out for each other.
Did you know that when you encourage loving and gentle eye contact with your dog, it generates the same hormones in your dog that make you feel good? We will look at eye contact with dogs in more detail in a later section of the article.
Types of Dog Stares
- Longing Eyes: Your puppy wants something (food or affection)
- Tilted Head: Your dog is confused
- Intense Stare: Your dog is waiting for directions (command)
Staring Releases Hormones
Staring releases Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone” in your dog, strengthening the mental bond between you and your dog. Staring at you also releases dopamine in your brain, which gives you a sense of fulfillment and pleasure.
Staring also releases serotonin, which creates an emotional bond. Staring at you also releases melatonin which helps your dog regulate their sleep cycle.
Staring is very important for dogs as it helps them feel secure and stable and safe with the humans they love most. Staring signals a strong bond of trust and security between a pet and the pet owner.
How Dogs “Read” Us
If you have ever wondered why your dog spends a lot of his time looking at you, you may be interested to know that it is because your dog is constantly reading your body language.
Body language is fundamental in the canine world because this is how dogs communicate with each other. In the same way, a dog observes another dog find out more about its intentions.
Your dog also observes your body language to acquire information about your mood. They can work out how you feel, what you want from them, and anticipate your next move.
Sometimes it can seem like our dogs know us better than we know ourselves and that they have psychic abilities, being able to predict what we are going to do next before we have even moved.
But this is because they have become so accustomed to observing our every movement that they recognize all the telltale signs of you mentally preparing yourself to get up off the sofa to prepare food or get ready to go for a walk or a play.
Did you know that often when you think you have taught your dog a new verbal command, like “sit,” the truth is that actually, your dog may have no idea what the word “sit” means?
Still, he recognizes the facial expression you give when you say it, the arching of your eyebrows, a tilt of the head, or a hand gesture.
This is because your dog associates your body language to a new command than the word. Sometimes explain why a dog ignores or doesn’t appear to understand the same command when a new person they are not familiar with gives it.
This is especially true for puppies, who pay much more attention to your body language than your talk.
How To Tell If Your Dog Wanted Or Needs Something
There are some looks that your dog gives that are blatantly nothing to do with love, like when your dog sits and stares at you if you sit down on the sofa with a sandwich or when they sit by the back door and stare at you intently, hoping you will understand that he needs to be let out.
It is usually pretty easy to tell when a dog’s “sit and stare” routine is about communicating with you.
The sit is very straight up as if a soldier is standing to attention, and the stare is robust, direct, and unrelenting. Sometimes a dog’s body will even lean in towards you, and their face might even be close to your own.
When a dog learns to communicate something to you through this behavior, it will rely on it repeatedly to get what they want. It can be beneficial most of the time, especially if your dog tells you that they need to go pee.
It’s a much more preferable form of communication than barking or scratching at doors. But some people find it intimidating or downright irritating.
What To Do If You Don’t Like Your Dog Staring At You
If your dog has formed a bad habit of staring straight at you when they want something, and it is in a way that is too overbearing and demanding, or for things that they don’t need, like an extra walk or more food, then you are wondering what on earth you can do to stop your dog from doing it. The best way to discourage undesirable behaviors in your dog is to ignore the behavior.
Any attention you give to your dog when they exhibit the behavior, whether it is positive or negative, will only reinforce your dog, and the behavior will become even more persistent.
If you want it to go away, you need to make your dog understand that the behavior results in nothing. Dogs don’t continue to do things that result in some desirable outcome, either getting the reward they are looking for or an alternative reward, as your attention on them.
For example, if your dog has learned that sitting in front of you when you are trying to watch the TV gets your attention, it can be challenging to ignore them in this situation.
If you cannot pretend your dog isn’t there, the next best thing is to walk away from your dog into another room and not allow them to follow you (shut the door behind you). Your dog should soon learn that all the behavior results in is you disappearing, and they will get bored of it.
The worst thing you can do if your dog is staring at you and you don’t like it is to tell them off or punish them. Negative attention is still attention, and in your dog’s eyes, this will mean that the staring has resulted in something – a reaction from you, which in his eyes, is much better than nothing at all.
Another thing to be wary of is staring back at your dog, and we will explore this in more detail in the next section, so keep reading.
Should Your Stare Back At Your Dog?
It is one thing to nurture loving looks between you and your dog, which will strengthen your bond and make you both feel even closer and fuzzy-hearted.
But when a dog is staring at you with a different intent, staring back at them can either make them feel uncomfortable or threatened. In the dog world, staring into other dogs’ eyes is avoided at all costs as it is perceived as incredibly aggressive and can easily lead to a fight.
Dominant dogs are more likely to use staring as intimidation, and more submissive dogs or puppies will quickly look away, sniff the ground, or start scratching themselves.
These displacement techniques tell the other dog that they are not a threat and not looking for trouble. If your dog is staring at you, and you stare back at him, you could be putting yourself in danger if you don’t know your dog well enough.
Your dog may take it as a challenge, and if they are more dominant, they may not back down by averting their gaze. But, on the other hand, you could end up making your dog feel insecure.
One way of telling whether your dog’s gaze is friendly or not is to look at their overall body language. Are they blinking their eyes or licking their lips?
These are calming behaviors that a dog exhibits to let you and other dogs know that everything is okay. Is the body language stiff and tense, or soft and alert?
Sign of Cognitive Dysfunction
Staring blankly at you can be a sign of cognitive dysfunction syndrome in older dogs. CDS is a form of cognitive decline that affects senior dogs, including those spayed or neutered, and occurs because the part of their brain that controls learning, memory, and behavior has begun to deteriorate with age.
Symptoms include disorientation, confusion, changes in sleep patterns or restlessness, lack of awareness of surroundings, and loss of house training. In addition, staring at you may indicate that your aging pet has lost his ability to read social cues.
For example, if your dog is used to being hugged goodbye before you leave for work, but one day he doesn’t seem to notice that you are getting ready to depart, he may be exhibiting CDS symptoms.
Dogs are pretty easy to read when you take some time to know what their body language is telling you. However, dogs are also brilliant, and they will very quickly find ways to communicate with you.
For example, when a dog sits and stares at you, it could be for several different things. If you don’t know why they are doing it, all you have to do is think a little bit more carefully, observe a little bit more closely, and the answer will quite literally be staring you in the face.
Hopefully, this article will have helped you to understand your dog a little better. Dogs have a keen ability to read facial expressions and hand gestures.
Dogs stare at us, trying to tell us something. After a while, dog owners learn their dog’s cues too. Dogs tilt their head if they are confused. If how many questions, you can always ask your vet.