Have you ever felt the stare of your dog's eyes following you, watching your every move? Dogs like to stare for many reasons such as when they’re enjoying their bone or chew toy. Or sometimes, you stare at your dog and you both catch it other's attention and gaze into each other's eyes with love and affection. Many dog owners are curious as to why their dogs stare and what they’re trying to tell them.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer as to why dogs stare but most of the time they’re staring at us as they’re trying to communicate and with helpful knowledge and getting to understand your dog, you can quickly work out why they’re staring and what they want or trying to communicate. With this information, you can hopefully train them to communicate in other ways that will work better for you both.
Are they reading us?
Dogs are in tune with us. They can sense moods, gestures and often read us to understand our next move. This means they stare a lot to read us and understand us better as humans. Most of the time, they sit and stare and wait for action, movement or gesture that will impact them. For example, dogs quickly learn that when we pick up the leash, this involves them taking them outside for a walk. The same applies to feed time, car journeys and many more movements or gestures.
Dogs will sit there and wait for deliberate cues from their owners to perform a specific task or behaviour, in the off chance they’re rewarded with a treat or some attention. Since dogs love attention, treats and toys, they can happily sit and stare, waiting for the next opportunity to be rewarded.
Are they trying to tell us something?
Staring can also be a result of your dog trying to tell you something, for example when they want to go to the toilet, or they may sit by the door and make noises that grasp your attention. Or if you’re eating and your dog is interested in what you’re eating or they’re hungry, they will sit there and stare at every morsel you eat.
Some dog breeds manipulate their owners to hand over their food by giving them that “stare” All dog owners are aware of that “stare” and too often we break and hand over some of what we’re eating as we feel guilty or think our dogs are so cute that they deserve what's on our plates. This behaviour is wrong and if carried on from puppy stages, it can lead to a rather annoying problem throughout their lives, whereby they will sit and stare for food. Some dogs can also introduce barking to the stare to get your attention and demand some of what you’re eating.
They’re telling us how they feel
Puppies and adult dogs stare at us to tell us how they feel and to express emotions, both positive and negative. This behaviour descends from their wolf ancestors and is known to be rude and threatening. Some dog breeds still display this trait and this is why you should never stare out a dog you don’t know as it can result in the dog becoming angry and potentially biting you if they feel threatened.
There are, however, many occasions when your dog stares at you simply because they love you and it's an expression of their affection and love for you. Mutual staring between humans and dogs can result in the dog releasing oxytocin which is better known as the love hormone. The same hormone the mother releases when she looks at her newborn baby. These hormones help strengthen the love and bond between you both. This could be the reason why your dog is forever staring at you.
Humans can benefit from staring at their dog
Staring back at your dog lovingly and affectionately will not only help strengthen the bond between you both but can also help relax you. Cuddling, stroking and playing with your dog are all great ways to help the human relax and feel contentment.
Lastly, a focussed dog that likes to stare at their owner is a dog that is willing to learn and be responsive. This is great for training and teaching your dog new tricks and boundaries.