You turn around and there's your dog staring at you: just sitting in silence, gazing intently. You go about your business, but he doesn't take his eyes off you. It's a little weird. What's he doing? What does he want? Are you really that interesting? Here are some of the reasons why your dog might be staring.
- To Read You. Given enough time together, your dog can learn your body language and recognize certain cues. For instance, if you start putting your shoes on, it can indicate you're about to go somewhere, so he'll stare at you to see if you're leaving the house - and if he's coming with you or about to be left home alone. He can also recognize more nuanced social cues, so his staring might be him trying to determine your emotions. If you're acting sad, stressed or otherwise down, he might come to you with cuddles. But if you seem happy or excited, he might ask if you want to play.
- To Get What He Needs. Since your canine companion can't talk to you directly, if he wants/needs something, he might simply stare at you until you figure out what it is. Is he staring at you near mealtime? He's hungry and wants to be fed. Is he staring while standing by the door? He probably wants a walk. If you pick up on these cues, he'll learn that staring will get him what he wants, which could lead to him doing it for other things too. And just like he learns your social cues, you can learn his with a bit of practice and pick up on what he wants.
- To Indicate a Problem. If your dog is staring to indicate that he needs something, what he needs might be help. If he's sick, injured, or otherwise in distress, your furry friend might stare at you to show something's wrong. If he seems less active than usual or his eyes seem glassy and unfocused, check for other signs of distress, then use Link's in-app symptom analysis tool to determine the urgency of seeking care, or call your local vet for assistance.
- To Show Aggression. If you haven't had your dog very long, his staring might be him trying to assert dominance. Particularly if he's a rescue, he might have trust issues. He doesn't know you yet, so he gives you a long, hard, unblinking stare, to let you know not to get too close. Once you establish a bond of trust with him, he might start staring at your friends and family when they come over. This is his way of protecting you from potential threats. This type of aggressive staring can lead to more serious behavior problems, so take him to a vet or a trainer to help him become more trusting. Natural Instinct Dog Training can help guide you on recommended next steps.
- To Show Affection. Maybe nothing is wrong at all. Your dog might just be staring at you because he loves you. Staring shows that he's comfortable around you, and that you make him happy. This type of stare is more relaxed. He might squint his eyes or blink a bit, rather than gazing intently, as well as wagging his tail.
For the most part, your dog staring at you is harmless and can even be useful for communication. However, if he starts doing it too much or for the wrong reasons, or it makes you uncomfortable, you may want to talk with your vet or hire a trainer. He can help your furry friend find healthy and clear ways of expressing himself!