Is your dog keeping an eye on you? Ever wondered “why your dog stares at you”? It’s not hard to guess, why your loyal companion might stare devotedly at you. The most fascinating aspect is that with a little knowledge you can easily learn how to train and interpret.
Sometimes it’s a funny feeling to realise you are being watched. It gets weird when you realize it’s your own dog gazing at you with those longing eyes. Whether you’re cooking dinner, sitting, brushing your teeth, watching TV, waking up in the morning or just reading in bed.
According to a recent study, staring between a dog and his owner stimulates 130% of oxytocin hormone levels in dogs and about 300% in humans. There’s a hormonal bond between men and dogs that’s why dogs are man’s best friend.
For them staring is an easy way to ask for something. One possible reason could be he is trying to catch your attention or tell you something. There could be a lot of reasons why dogs stare. Don’t worry. He is not a weirdo. Your dog knows when it is vulnerable. So basically it’s just an instinctive, natural act of your dog to gawk at you.
Here are a few reasons to find out why dogs keep staring at us.
Reasons Why Dog Stares
They want to tell us something
If the gaze is long enough, your pup probably has learned a new way to communicate. This could be a way to tell if anything is coming their way. For example, if it’s time to relieve itself, he will stare at you to tell you it’s time for an outdoor potty break.
They are begging for food
Dogs may stare at you in anticipation of food. For example, whenever you touch food, he won’t give up looking so intently at you.
The gaze makes you feel guilty and compelled to handover a piece of your meal. You give in to make it stop but the rewards make them quickly learn the “cause and effect” behavior rule which you unintentionally taught them. Sadly, this is a common scenario. The best way is to train them to stop begging.
They are reading our body language
Dog didn’t become a man’s loyal companion for no reason. The main reason is that dogs learn faster and are very faithful. They can sense our body gestures about what’s going to happen next. That means they stare at us to read us for information and follow our pointing gestures.
Sometimes the deep gaze is to watch for that signal or to expect the next step. For example, picking up their leash is the signal that a trip outdoors is on it’s way.
They love you
Your pooch also uses eye contact to express emotions. Oftentimes it is an expression of love, your pup stares at you to express affection just as we humans stare at the ones we adore.
Mutual eye contact between humans and dogs releases oxytocin – the love hormone which boosts feelings of love and trust.
They need your attention
Attention-seeking dog behavior is a normal survival mechanism in dogs. Some dogs develop attention-seeking behaviors like staring, feigning lameness, barking, whining, chasing shadows and lights, strange bodily contortions and even vomiting.
Sometimes the staring behavior is the longing for a fun game of fetch or a long run with you or simply seeking attention in any form. Chances are he’s merely waiting for praise or direction.
They are showing aggressiveness
Dogs have different moods ranging from scared to cheery. All behaviors happen for a reason and aggression is no different. If your dog gives you a hard stare with a stiff posture, you should back away and never stare down.
Such staring is considered threatening and aggressive, some dogs retain this attitude from their wolf ancestors.
Aggression comes from fear, stress, self-defence or with the intent of making the unpleasant stop. You should first try to understand your dog’s reactivity and remove the source of your dog’s aggression.
If your dog continues to give you a hard stare and shows aggressive body language and this becomes a regular behavior, you should seek immediate help from a professional trainer or behaviorist.
They are confused
Remember that cute tilted head stare your dog gives you during training? Your dog is probably trying to figure out what you mean and is a bit confused.
It could have been much easier if we all knew the same language. If your dog answers your command with just a stare – it doesn’t mean he’s wilfully disobedient. He’s just confused. it’s the time to backtrack your training to ensure your pup understands you.
They want direction
Your well-trained dog might stare at you expecting a cue. For example, when they are in midst of training or an activity they may stare up at you to determine the next step.
They need protection
Does your dog keep an eye on you when he poops? When a dog defecates, he’s relatively defenseless. The reason for him staring up to you for reassurance that you will protect him at a vulnerable moment. This is often termed as the poop-stare.
They have cognitive dysfunction
The final reason that dogs stare is a sign of an illness unknown. Some of the other symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction includes anxiety, restlessness, roving around aimlessly, extreme irritability, decreased desire to play, and confusion.
Make sure you check with a medical professional if you observe any unusual signs concurrent with your dog’s quirk of staring at you.
What you should do?
Never assume that a dog’s stare is friendly or aggressive. They must be trying to communicate something much more specific. Pay attention to the rest of their body language before making any conclusion.
Dogs are intelligent species. It’s up to us, the owner to either listen or train the dog. Knowing your dog’s personality will grow the healthy dog-human relationship unsullied and would continue to grow the special bond.
Seek consultation with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist if your dog’s stare takes a dark turn towards aggression.
Benefits of dog staring
Apart from being a tool to show affection, his undivided attention makes it easy to train him.
This intense eye contact with your dog helps you boost your dog’s performance at sports.
It is a lot easier to train a focused dog which explains why eye contact is the key to teach meaningful dog behavior techniques.
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