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Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

I often wondered why our dog would sit down in front of me and stare…and stare…and stare? For no reason I thought. I was wrong. Maybe our dog was being loyal and overflowing with devotion like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, or Scooby-Doo? And what does Scooby Doo bring to mind? Food! He was simply waiting for me to drop some tasty food morsel upon the floor so he could move in for a sampling!

Four Canine Stare Reasons

There are four reasons why your dog might stare and they are: desire, attention, confusion, and direction.

Desire

One reason a dog stares at you revolves around your dog wanting something you have to give. What does your dog desire at the moment? A taste of your hamburger? An afternoon walk? That toy you’re holding in your hand? Desire is one reason for all of those canine stares but it’s not the only reason.

Being Attentive to Your Dog

Wanting attention on your dog’s part means your canine needs you to notice her (or him). Love and affection is important to a dog and it’s often tied to desire because your dog wants you to do something that she wants. Craving attention is not as action-specific as playing catch or rubbing her belly but you’ll discover that a hug or a pet will make her happy all the same!

What Do You Want?

Sometimes your pup just sits there and watches you very closely while you’re reciting the Gettysburg Address. Every word your pup tries to follow because your pup is making an attempt to figure out just what the heck you want from them! Maybe your facial expression will reveal some emotions to your dog? Even when confused and curious, your dog will hang onto your every word because he doesn’t want to get reprimanded for doing something wrong!

Just Tell Me What to Do!

Direction, direction, direction! They’re staring because they’re waiting for some kind of direction. Please tell me, what I should be doing? Not as straightforward as confusion but it is related because the dog is attempting to figure out the situation. This usually occurs when the dog is being trained or taught some type of activity that requires commands which tell them what to do next.

A Good Thing

Staring is generally considered to be a good thing and trainers usually encourage dogs to stare at their owners while awaiting their cues. Haven’t you ever gazed deeply into your dog’s eyes? It’s a highly rewarding experience but you must remember that a direct stare can also be construed as a challenge. Mutual staring is an activity that should only be partaken by a healthy dog-human relationship devoid of aggression or behavioral abnormalities. Being certain that a dogs stare is friendly is key. Pay attention to the dog’s body language and don’t put yourself in harms way. Understanding the dogs stare and context cues will make the difference between the dog thinking, “I’m going to bite you” or “I’m going to lick you.” I’d take the kiss over the bite any day!

By Tom Matteo

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References:
VetStreet: Why Does My Dog… Stare at Me?
Cesar’s Way: Why Is My Dog Staring at Me?

About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He has written hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and now writes about animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife, Tina, and their beloved cockapoo, Angel.

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