Why does your dog keep eyeballing you?

Why does your dog keep eyeballing you?

Does your dog stare at you? You may find that particularly with lockdown pups who suffer from separation anxiety, that your dog likes to follow you from room to room – even to the toilet – and that they also spend a lot of time staring at you, whatever they are doing.

According to Metro, this habit confuses and unnerves dog owners around the world – quite possibly because when it comes to our human counterparts, we all know that it is rather rude to stare! So why can’t your pooch take his eyes off of you? Are you too good to be true?

Animal behaviourists suggest that there are many reasons that your dog may stare at you, it could be because they want to know something and are looking for verbal or visual cues – or conversely they are trying to catch your eye to tell you that something is up.

Dogs tend to be more tuned-in to what their humans are up to than any other type of pet. If they hear you pottering about downstairs they may choose to stay in bed but as soon as they hear you zipping up your boots or jangling the car keys they appear right beside you, ready for action and keen to accompany you wherever you’re about to go.

King Charles Spaniel photo by Steshka Willems on PexelsKing Charles Spaniel photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels

Communication

Sometimes it’s not obvious to your dog what you are doing, and they may want to know if you are headed to the park or about to tip some food into their bowl so they will be staring at you in order to read your body language and looking for clues. If you’re doing something out of the ordinary, this may confuse your pooch. They may tilt their head to one side and prick their ears as they attempt to work out what it is that you are trying to do and whether they should get involved too.

On the other hand, your dog might not be trying to read you, they may be trying to tell you something instead. They will usually look at you when they want something such as attention, dinner, a nice long walk or a trip to the loo.

If you haven’t noticed this polite gaze they may start to follow you about as well and fixate on what you are doing until you stop to see what they want.

Collie photo by Blue Bird on PexelsCollie photo by Blue Bird on Pexels

Aggression

If your dog is giving you an unblinking hard stare and their posture has stiffened then it could be a sign that they are upset and it’s a good idea not to crowd them and give some space to calm down. Avoid eye contact in this case as some dogs could interpret this as a sign of aggression. 

If your dog does not calm down and continues to look aggressive then it may be worth taking them to the vet or a behaviour specialist to find out exactly what the problem is as they may be in pain or frightened of a particular person, place or situation.

Stare photo by Kateryna Babaieva on PexelsPhoto by Kateryna Babaieva on Pexels

Vulnerability

Another unsettling habit your dog may have is that they will maintain eye contact with you when they are pooping. Experts suggest that this may be because they are feeling vulnerable and are seeking reassurance. In this situation, it can be a good idea to talk to them in a calm and reassuring way if you think it will help.

Frenchie photo by Alexia Bianchini on PexelsFrenchie photo by Alexia Bianchini on Pexels

The look of love

But it’s not just fear or aggression that cause your dog to stare, it could simply be a loving gaze – and there’s a good reason for returning the favour. The American Kennel Club suggests that mutual staring between dogs and their owners releases oxytocin, the love hormone. This chemical reaction can help you bond with each other and increase feelings of love and trust both in dogs and humans.

Speaking to Metro, Stan Rawlinson from the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors concurred:

“Eye contact is a big confidence booster for dogs. Dogs that really respect you will make eye contact.” So they may be doing it out of love and respect for you. 

Does your pooch stare at you? And do you stare back? As always, let us know in the comments section below! 

Main photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels


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