What Does it Really Mean When My Dog Stares At Me?

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting on your couch after a long day of work and when you look down in front of you, your dog is staring at you.

You try to ignore them but you can feel your dog’s eyes burning a hole through you. Why is your dog grilling you so hard?

Unlike their wolf ancestors who took staring as rude and threatening, dogs stare at their owners as a way to communicate to them.

Interestingly, your dog has different kinds of stares that can mean completely different things.

Below are four different types of staring. Read on to see why your dog is staring at you. 

why does my dog stare at me attention

Waiting for a Signal

One main reason your dog stares at you is because they are waiting for cues from you.

Dogs are in tune with humans more than any other animal on earth, and pick up cues to our repetitive actions easily.

For example, when you grab your coat and your keys, your dog takes these as cues that you’re about to leave the house. If you pick up the leash as well, that’s a cue that they’re coming along for the ride!

There are all kinds of cues that you do throughout the day that signal feeding time, playtime, and more.

I’ve found that Cali stares at me late at night when she’s tired and thinks it’s time for us to go to bed for the night. Usually she’s the only reason I’m in bed before midnight.

In addition, dogs that are trained with positive reinforcement are more likely to stare at you and wait for a command, as this is an opportunity to earn treats.

These dogs love training sessions and are always on the lookout for sessions and treats.

If your dog is staring at you while you’re sitting on the couch, try giving them a command like “go lay down” or “rest” so your dog has a command to focus on. 

They Want Something From You

The second reason why your dog is staring at you is because they want or need something from you.

Archie runs up and stares at me whenever he needs to go outside to potty or play.

Both Archie and Cali stare at guests at the dinner table, silently requesting scraps from under the table. You can think of this staring as a sort of guilt trip, especially when begging for food.

In the beginning your dogs stare at you from the dinner table simply out of curiosity. However, once you give in and give them table scraps, they will never stop begging for food.

I personally don’t feed my dogs scraps from the table, but my husband does. So guess who always has two drooling pitbulls staring at them throughout dinner? Not me! 

They’re Confused

If your dog is staring at you with a little tilt in their head, chances are they’re confused.

This often happens when your dog hears a new noise for the first time or when training a new trick.

If you’re teaching your puppy something new, only to be met by a few cute head tilts, try to slow down until they catch on to their new command. 

Resource Guarding

Since dogs ancestrally come from wolves, staring was considered a threat and would often lead to fights.

Since your dog has these genes, you may sometimes find that your dog stares at you when they are guarding something like their favorite toy or a nice juicy steak.

You’ll notice this type of staring is different because they’re body is stiff, their tail is still, and sometimes their hair will rise on their back.

If your dog exhibits this kind of staring and resource guarding behavior then I suggest watching Zak George’s training video above!

why does my dog stare at me they love you

They Love You

One of the more common reasons that your dog is staring at you is simply because they love you!

In fact, one major evolutionary difference between wolves and dogs is that when dogs smell oxytocin in their humans, it increases gazing behavior toward their human.

Consequently, when the human stares at their dog, their brain releases oxytocin, which the dog can smell. This actually creates an oxytocin loop between you and your dog. Isn’t that fascinating

When Dogs Stare at Each Other

Lastly, it is important to note that dogs staring at each other could be preparing to fight.

A dog staring at another dog is much different than a dog staring at a human.

Some dogs can have an aggressive grill that says “I’m going to take you out if you mess with me.”.

This stare is usually accompanied by a super stiff body stance and the hair on their back stands up.

Once the other dog makes eye contact or moves all teeth are out and blood can be drawn.

If your dog is known to do this they may be reactive to other dogs. You should keep them leashed whenever you’re out while you train out the reactivity with a professional trainer.  

Conclusion

Most of your dogs staring is usually a combination of attention and affection.

Though it can be uncomfortable to have your dog stare, they really just love and are fascinated by you. 

When does your dog tend to stare at you the most? During dinner? Sitting on the couch?

If you had a staring contest with your dog, who would win? Let me know in the comments!

Want more great info on dog training and behavior? Click Here!

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