Why does my dog stare at me? Dog staring explained!

Why does my dog stare at me? Dog staring explained!

Updated on August 1st, 2019

Have you ever wondered “why does my dog stare at me”? It can be a little unnerving when your dog is staring at you, but you probably don’t need to worry as it’s a way of them showing you that they love and trust you.

Your dog could simply be looking at you because they love you, and they are showing you how devoted they are to you!

In fact, many dog trainers encourage dogs to stare at their owners because it helps them to pick up on any cues you are giving them, and builds the bound between dog and owner.

In many cases, your dog is staring because he wants to get your attention for something. If you are eating, moving around or if your dog is hungry or wants to be played with then they may stare at you so that you pay them some attention.

They may simply be interested in what you are doing. If your dog is content in their position but not in the mood to sleep, then watching their beloved owner is a great way to pass the time!

Why do dogs stare at you? Dogs stare at you because they love you!

Why does my dog stare into space?

Some dogs will spend large chunks of time staring into space. There are many natural reasons for this, including:

  • They are interested in their surroundings
  • They are attention seeking
  • They are watching or listening to a sound you haven’t noticed – perhaps an insect moving about, or traffic noise outside

However, there are sometimes health reasons with why your dog is staring into space.

If your dog appears disorientated when staring or if you can’t easily break their concentration then this is perhaps something to discuss with your veterinarian.

It may be that your dog is experiencing eyesight or hearing problems, or it could even be that they are sick and feeling disorientated or dizzy.

In extreme cases, particular in older dogs, it may be that excessive staring into space could be a symptom of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), which is dementia in dogs.

If your dog frequently stares into space and also has other strange behaviours such as the list below, then you should get them checked out by your vet:

  • becoming lost in familiar environments
  • having trouble finding the door to your back garden
  • does not recognise people he knows (especially family members)
  • starts sleeping much more than normal
  • starts urinating or pooping in the house
  • starts frequently walking in circles
  • starts pacing the house/room

Here’s a video that shows what doggie dementia can look like:

(If you click through to YouTube, be warned – some of the comments under the video are pretty heart-breaking ☹️ )

What does it mean when a dog looks at you in the eyes?

Dogs don’t always stare off into space – they quite often enjoy staring at people too!

You might be wondering why your dog looks at you in the eyes. Sometimes it can feel as though they are looking right into your soul!

Dogs look into your eyes to show that they love you – just like you might gaze into the eyes of your partner.

It’s a bonding behaviour that shows trust and affection. Some studies have even shown that staring into the eyes of your pooch can release the hormone oxytocin in both you and your dog ❤️

French bulldog dog staring lovingly at owner saying 'You're the best'

Should you look a dog in the eyes?

Looking your own dog into their eyes should not be a problem, because there is a bond between you – although of course every dog is different, and some may not like to share eye contact at all.

However, with dogs that you do not know, or if you have only just got a dog, then you should try to avoid direct eye contact with them as they may perceive you as a threat.

This is because when two dogs stare into each other eyes, especially upon meeting for the first time, it’s often a test of dominance and can be a threatening gesture.

Why do dogs stare at each other when they meet?

You may notice when you are walking your dog that they look into the eyes of other dogs that they meet, and then one of them drops their gaze.

This is an act of submission or appeasement, designed to diffuse potential conflict and to show that the dogs are comfortable with each other’s presence and do not wish to fight.

What are the reasons why dogs stare?

As mentioned above, your dog could be staring at you to show you how much he cares, or in rare cases it could be a sign that they have an illness. There are other reasons that dogs stare too, which are detailed below:

Why does my dog stare at me when I eat?

This is quite an easy one – it’s because they want your food!

Your dog may look at you when you are eating with an ADORABLE puppy-dog expression because they are trying to persuade you to give them a tasty morsel of whatever it is you are munching on.

Try not to give in – no matter how cute they look – as you don’t want to encourage begging, particularly at the dinner table.

Hungry dog staring because he wants food

Why does my dog stare at me and bark?

If your dog wants some attention then they might stare at you and bark. This is often accompanied by tail wagging and even sneezing or yawning if your dog is getting themselves particularly excited.

We know when it gets to about 8pm every night, as our dogs come up to the sofa and stare up to us as they want us to play with them. If we ignore them (because… Game of Thrones is just TOO engrossing, right?!) then they sometimes ‘uplevel’ their efforts by barking and staring at the same time.

They are simply trying to tell us that they would like to play – and I know we shouldn’t, but usually we do give in and have a fun half-hour of tennis ball throwing around the living room!

Dog stare and bark wants to play

Why does my dog stare at me from across the room?

You may notice your dog staring at you from across the room, or keeping their gaze on you as you move around.

The reason for this is pure curiosity – your pup wants to know what you are doing!

When I move from room-to-room, or if I am tidying or cleaning, then I quite often get two doggies gazing at me from their prime position on the sofa. I think they’re pretty much just hoping I go and get them some treats.

They get awfully disappointed when the big scary vacuum cleaner comes out instead, and they usually give up the staring in favour of running upstairs to hide instead. Did I ever mention that I have two pretty wimpy dogs? 😉

Labrador retriever saying 'I love you' to his owner

Why does my dog stare at me while he poops?

Now this is a bit of a strange one! Freddie (my Shih Tzu) frequently stares at me or my husband whilst he is having a poop, and honestly it can be a little unnerving!

Yet, once again, this all comes down to natural dog behaviour.

When a dog is pooping, he is vulnerable – and he knows this. In his ‘squatting’ position, he can’t easily run away or fight should danger present itself.

Dogs stare you whilst they poop to make sure that you are there to protect them, and to watch over them whilst they are vulnerable.

Your dog (hopefully!) considers you the leader of his pack, so he is looking at you to make sure everything is okay.

German Shepherd dog staring at owner to keep him safe

Why do dogs stare?

I hope that this article has helped you to understand why dogs stare at you, or at their surroundings.

Most of the time, it’s a completely natural and normal thing for them to do, so embrace the gaze and why not try looking back at them? If nothing else, it’s a perfect excuse for a cuddle with your favourite furry family member! 😍