You may have been trying to relax or fix up something to eat only to realize that your dog keeps staring at you?
It becomes more awkward when you look at them, and instead of averting their gaze, they keep staring into your eyes, and you’ve noticed this happen quite frequently.
For dogs, staring is a way of communicating. They may stare to express affection, desire, or even aggression.
However, there are instances where staring may also be a concern for your dog. This article discusses why your dog stares into your eyes and the best ways to handle it.
Why does your dog stare into your eyes?
For dogs, staring is a way of communicating, and there is no particular way to tell which stare means what.
It takes some time and a level of familiarity between dog and owner to be able to tell the difference.
As opposed to any other reasons people may give, your dog stares into your eyes to communicate their affections toward you; this means that they love you and are fascinated by you.
This stare is mostly always accompanied by a soft look and wagging tail.
This soft gaze inspired the expression “puppy-dog eyes”, which describes utter innocence and is used to beg for something.
Dog trainers and researchers advised mutual staring to be used as a bonding technique between dogs and their owners.
Since dogs cannot communicate the same way we do, dog owners have to pay extra attention to what their dog’s stares may signify at different times.
Your dog stares to communicate several other things apart from their feelings for you. Your dog’s stare might be a way of asking or begging for a number of things.
At first, it may be hard to guess what exactly your dog wants, but it gets easier. Paying attention to your dog’s body language may help you interpret these situations better.
Your dog may stare into your eyes when they desire something. Usually, being stared at can make a person feel really uncomfortable, which takes your attention off several other things.
Dogs also use this technique when they desire your attention; they want to be acknowledged and want their owners to pay attention to them.
They could also stare because they desire to spend some quality time with you: walking or playing.
They are waiting for a command.
At times, we get our dogs used to certain commands without even realizing it, so when they notice you give certain impressions of that command, they get confused.
In this case, they may stare when awaiting clearer instructions or directions. They may also stare when they want a signal or are seeking permission to do something.
Some reasons that may just leave your dog staring
New pet owners find it a little challenging to differentiate between their dogs’ stares because not all stares mean the same thing or only positive things.
In this regard, we’ll discuss some of these unfamiliar stares and their possible interpretations, which you’ll be able to differentiate over time.
Your dog staring at you with a tilted head may signify that they are trying to read you or make out the situation you are both in.
During training or at other times, your dog may react to a command by staring when trying to figure out what you want them to do.
Dogs are naturally curious creatures; it is not the case that your dog is trying to be disobedient. You may just need to convey your command more clearly.
A direct stare straight into your eyes is a dog giving a cautionary warning before they bite. This look is common with unfamiliar dogs.
Some dogs are not as friendly as others, and while you may think you are getting along so well with an unfamiliar dog, you still need to watch out for hard stares like this.
Dogs may stare this way to assert dominance in unfamiliar situations or when they are nervous.
Some stiff and cold body movements accompany this stare; this is a clue to step back because nobody wants to know what comes after the stink eye, but then, some already do, don’t they?
Your dog may decide to stare straight into your eyes when they are hurt or in pain to receive comfort from their owners.
They may use eye contact to communicate how they feel: good or bad.
While they may try to express their affections by staring, they may also stare when they experience inconvenience, discomfort, or pain.
When should you be concerned?
Unfortunately, like everything else in life, your dog staring may become more of a cause of concern than just a mere show of affection.
Once your dog stares more often than usual, you should consider taking them for an examination. But how can you tell when it gets that bad?
When they stare at nothing
When your dog stares blankly a lot, you should begin to worry about their health. This is a sign of Dementia or CCD in dogs. CCD is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or dog dementia.
This is usually accompanied by disorientation and absentmindedness, where dogs may not even respond to their name when called. Older dogs are more commonly diagnosed with CCD.
This disease is accompanied by several other disturbing symptoms, making it easier for dog owners to identify.
When they are in pain
Your dog’s response to pain may be to stare into your eyes. Do not always assume that every time your dog stares, it means they are trying to show affection or bond.
When in pain, staring may be how your dog chooses to communicate this to you. Your dog may also stare absentmindedly at people or places that make them anxious or nervous.
As a dog owner, you must be conversant with these behaviors.
When their stares are accompanied by other disturbing symptoms
CCD could be accompanied by other symptoms like frequent trembling. Your dog may keep wandering aimlessly and likely get lost even in familiar parts of the house.
Dogs who must have undergone proper toilet training may even start soiling the house. You should also be concerned when you notice that your dog stares as a sign of anxiety.
Dogs, through their looks, may also react aggressively even when unprovoked. This also signifies anxiety, discomfort, or dislike for something or someone.
How to respond when your dog stares into your eyes
Among other ways you can choose to react to your dog’s stares, you can consider staring back into your dog’s eyes.
Although this response might be suitable only in certain situations, studies have shown that mutual staring releases oxytocin: a hormone that, when released, makes us feel loved and cared for.
Adjust your training tactics
You must take cognizance of the type of signals you give your dog. Give clearer and more consistent commands to make your dog understand you better.
You also want your dog to stay focused on you during training.
Dogs may get distracted by other things while training and imprint those circumstances together with their training, which will leave them confused when you repeat those “incomplete” commands in the future.
Ultimately, let your body language stay in sync with your words and remain consistent.
Try to figure out what they want.
As time goes on, you begin to make better guesses about what your dog may desire when they stare into your eyes or look at you.
Try to learn what your dog’s stares mean, and paying attention to the body language accompanied by their stares provides clues that help.
Also, always remember what you were doing when your dog stared at you; this could help you narrow down just what they may want or need.
In extreme cases, take your dog to see a vet. Make your dog go through a thorough examination to ensure they are fine.
Also, get expert advice when you never seem to guess what your dog wants right.
Ask other dog parents to find out what they do differently to ensure their dog gets the best treatment or attention.
It goes both ways; your dog is just as curious about your feelings and needs as you are about theirs. Pay attention to your dog as much as you need to.
While the best your dog may be able to do is stare into your eyes, you can do so much more.
You can stare back, feed them, play with them, give them the go-ahead signal to do things, take them to the toilet, spend some quality time with them, and more.
In more concerning situations, you may have to pay closer attention to your dog to realize that it may be in pain or suffer from CCD or anxiety.