Why Does My Dog Stare At Me? Should I Worry?

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why does my dog stare at me

Dogs would stare at us when they want to tell us something or when they want to observe what’s around them.

There are more reasons why your dog is staring at you. However, there is no need to be alarmed. This behavior isn’t an indication of deeper medical problems and is behavioral. 

Dogs are our best friends, but it doesn’t mean that we love them watching us 24/7. If you feel like your dog’s eyes are staring at you, you’re not alone. But why do dogs do this odd behavior?

So Why Does My Dog Stare At Me?

There can be quite a few reasons why your dog stares at you. All of these reasons however are about behavior. Generally, awkward staring isn’t a medical condition.

Here are just a few reasons why your dog is staring at you:

  • Communication. Dogs, just like humans, use body language to communicate with each other. It’s the same behavior when they are trying to communicate something to their owner.
  • Manipulation. If your dog has learned that every time they make you feel awkward, they get a treat, each and every time fido wants a treat, they will stare at you. Begging behavior often leads to this type of behavior. [1]
  • Respect. Your dog could be looking to you as a leader and assessing the environment through how you are acting. This behavior is similar to a form of communication through body language. 

These reasons are not the only reasons your dog may be staring at you. Each dog has its own reasons. However, these are some common behaviors seen in dogs.

Dogs Stare Because They Are Reading Us

Dogs are connected to humans on a deeper level than most other animals. Our canine companions follow our moods, identify illness, and can even help to predict upcoming events, like storms or seizures. 

Because of this connection, they tend to stare at us to gain information about what’s happening around us. This behavior helps dominant dogs have a heads up about things that could affect them. 

For example, if you tense up, your dog notices and will often act more dominant to keep you safe. Or, if you pick up a leash, your pup will already believe that they are going to be heading out on an adventure. 

Your dog will stare at you to observe your habits ad the results of those habits. So if you notice your dog watching you, pay attention to what you are doing at that moment. 

This behavior also appears when your dog is watching you for cues or commands. For example, if you have the car keys, they may be watching you just to see if they are going to go with you or not. 

Dog’s naturally love positive reinforcement, and they pay attention to the signs that lead to those delightful rewards. 

Dogs Stare Because They Are Trying to Tell Us Something

No, Timmy didn’t fall into the well again. However, your dog’s intense stare could be them trying to tell you something. 

Because this could mean many different things, knowing your dog and your habits will help you figure out these answers

For example, your pup may need an extra potty break or would like to try whatever you happen to be eating. 

Think of it as the dog equivalent of tapping you on the shoulder. 

However, this stare could also be a form of begging. If your dog does this often at mealtime with its head on your lap, it may be a behavior that you need to break. 

When your dog is begging, you shouldn’t give in and give them anything. That will only reinforce the bad behavior. 

For example, when you first got your puppy, their big eyes looked so hungry. And you most likely figured a little treat wouldn’t hurt. However, that has now blossomed into a full-blown staring problem. 

Breaking your dog of this habit will often leave you feeling guilty or uncomfortable, but your dog will be better off. And the staring will usually stop. 

Furthermore, becoming aware of your reaction to your dog when they are staring may offer some valuable insight into why your dog is staring at you. It can also make it easier to retrain the behavior. 

For example, you can redirect your dog to stay in another room while you eat or ring a bell when they wish to go outside. 

Rewarding the behavior you want and ignoring the stare will help your dog better behave and communicate with you.

Dogs Stare Because They Are Telling Us How They Feel

Dogs don’t have the same language we do, and often, when dogs are sick or in pain, we might not even know. It can be downright shocking at the level of pain these animals can handle. 

Eye contact is a critical part of dog body language. It can be both positive and negative. 

Eye contact is also a dominant behavior for dogs. You may need to reach out to a trainer or behaviorist if your dog is showing signs of aggression while staring.

Watch for signs of aggression such as:

  • Stiff posture
  • Unblinking stare
  • Hackles raised
  • Lip licking 

However, most of the time, your dog will stare at you because they love you and that you are a part of their family. Some studies have shown that the staring between humans and dogs releases a chemical that is a critical part of bonding.[2]

Dogs and Humans Can Benefit from Staring

There are benefits of affection and attention for both humans and dogs from staring. Even though it makes you uncomfortable, your dog is fascinated by you and whatever you are doing.

However, you may first think that the staring needs to be corrected, but you shouldn’t necessarily discourage the behavior. Instead, you should refocus your pup’s attention. 

For example, you wouldn’t pat your chest and tell your dog not to jump. It’s very confusing to your dog, who doesn’t understand words.

Make sure that your body language and what you are saying match. Even though dogs can’t understand human language, they can identify tones. 

Next, having your dog focused can help during training or other times where you need them to look at you. Teach your dog a “focus” command. 

If your dog is already staring, this is the perfect opportunity to teach them this lesson. Say the command, and then praise your dog as they hold eye contact. You never know when this training may come in handy. 

Finally, if you are someone who wants to get into sports with your dog, this little trick can be beneficial. Especially when you are across a field or agility course because a handler and dog need to be in tune with one another. 

Strong bonds of trust between you and your dog can begin by paying attention to habits and staring. 

What Should You Do If Your Dog Stares at You

If you notice your dog is staring at you, you can simply ignore your pup and carry on with what you are doing. Your dog is most likely just interested in whatever is happening.

However, if the behavior is begging or excessive, you may have to go back to the training board. If you and your dog are struggling, reach out to a local trainer. 

The Bottom Line

By paying attention to your dog and the current situation when you notice your dog staring, you can work through this situation. 

When you begin learning your dog’s habits can help you understand what they are trying to communicate to you. Or you can also work with your dog through training to offer other options than just having your pup staring at you. 

Photo of author
Lori Marsh
An SEO content and Copywriter who's lived in the pet world for more than 25 years. I currently reside just outside of Chicago with my collection of cats while I await the day that I can get my next dog.

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