Jeez, it’s rude to stare right? Well maybe… unless you’re a dog, those loving soft eyes gazing at you adoringly are wonderful aren’t they? We like to have attention and focus, after all we’re the centre of their world. But perhaps you’re wondering why do dogs stare at you? And what does it mean when your own dog stares at you? 

In this article, we’re going to give you all the answers, why do dogs stare at you? Is your dog staring at you is a good thing? Should you be worried about your dog staring at you and what might they be trying to tell you? 

While you’re here though, have you downloaded a trial of the Zigzag puppy training app yet? We have a fully personalised puppy training programme based around your dog’s breed and their stage of development. On hand are a team of expert puppy coaches ready to help you along the way, and answer any of those burning questions, and yes they’ll likely be able to tell you all about why your pup might be staring at you! 

dog staring outside
Photo by Sorin Gheorghita on Unsplash

Why do dogs stare at you?

Eye contact is like gold for dogs, just like for us humans it’s vital in their world. It builds connection and is a way of communicating. Dogs can stare at you to express affection, bonding, indicate that they need something, grab your attention, and sometimes as a way of expressing aggression.  

  1. Dogs stare at you as a part of bonding

Mutual gazing, where your dog looks at you, and you look at them, looking at you, looking at them (who’s looking at who here??) releases a hormone called Oxytocin, the so-called ‘love hormone’. This chemical release builds a strong bond between a person and a dog, so your dog staring at you has quite a nice bonding effect. Aw literally love at first sight. 

  1. Dogs stare at you to tell you something is wrong

Do we all remember Lassie? That stare Lassie would give was them trying to tell us something was up! So next time your dog stares at you perhaps check if the cat’s got stuck coming through the cat flap again, or if there’s a pan boiling over on the stove. Helpful hounds at times aren’t they?

Learn how to introduce a cat to your pup, here.

  1. Your dog is trying to tell you they want something

So sometimes the staring is totally selfish and it’s our dogs trying to tell us that they want something. Watch your dog around mealtimes and see if you’re getting stared at! One way that dogs communicate is with their body language, so if your dog is staring at you chances are they want something like a walk, to play, or just some strokes and affection.

  1. Dogs stare at us for food 

Dogs evolved as scavengers, and you can bet those puppy dog eyes helped get some food from early man! So if you’re sitting on the sofa eating a pizza on a friday night and your dog is staring at you, chances are they’re after a slice too. 

  1. Dogs stare at you to get your attention

No one likes to be ignored, do they? Your dog is probably bored that you’re staring at your computer or TV and want some attention from you. You are their everything, don’t forget to show them they’re yours too.

  1. Dogs stare at you because of negative emotions

If your dog’s stare is what we call a hard stare and accompanied by defensive body language or  a low growl your dog is probably not starting in a loving adoring way, but trying to tell you they’re uncomfortable with whatever is happening around them or to them. 

chocolate labrador puppy
Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

Is my dog staring at me a good thing?

Let’s be honest. Most of the time, your dog staring at you is generally harmless and a good thing. They’re interested in what you’re doing, or want you to engage with them. It also means your dog is giving you an incredible amount of focus. If we didn’t get a dog who wanted to be around us then why did we get one? 

Eye contact is a wonderful thing and is a great bonding experience for dogs and humans. Research shows that mutual gazing releases Oxytocin and of course, when your dog looks at you and they give you those puppy dog eyes, what do you do? Stroke them, so more Oxytocin is released. Lovely.

Should I be worried if my dog is staring at me?

Dogs can’t talk, so they use body language to communicate with us. They use their whole body to communicate, from the wrinkling of their nose to the wag of their tail, so let’s see if you should be worried about your dog staring at you. 

Staring at you all of the time

If your dog is staring at you all the time and wants a lot of attention and interaction, you might need to consider if they’re bored and need more stimulation. Interactive games are great boredom busters, or why not stuff them up a nice Kong and give them something to chew on. 

Hard staring at you while by their food bowl or toy

If your dog is near their food bowl and staring, perhaps even freezing while eating, this can be a sign that they’re uncomfortable with you being nearby while they eat. This is commonly related to resource guarding, where your dog doesn’t want you near their food bowl or toys, but they can also guard spaces and other things they deem to be precious. 

Staring at you with a glazed look

Canine cognitive dysfunction is also called doggy dementia, and generally affects senior and elderly dogs. We know, it sounds heartbreaking right?

If your dog is staring at you, or walls and other objects around the house, or perhaps walking into things and restless at night, it can be a sign that this might be occurring. Speak to your vet if you think this might be the case, as specific medications and food supplements have been shown to help with this and steady your dog’s cognitive decline. 

puppy sitting in the grass
Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash

We hope that’s given you some good ideas as to why do dogs stare at you. They’re generally not meaning any harm by it and are doing it because they love us and want to engage with us. Or yes, they might want some pizza too. Who can blame them?

Dogs’ behaviour can be puzzling sometimes. How about having a read of our articles on puppy body language, and also what puppy aggression is, and what you can do about it to learn more about puppy behaviour. You’ll also find a bunch of information in the Zigzag puppy training app. Not only do we have a step by step puppy training programme designed for you, we also have a team of puppy trainers on the end of the phone, text message or email to help you on your puppy training journey. They love hearing all about your pups and helping with any problems you might be facing, so reach out to them anytime, they’re on hand round the clock 7 days a week!