Doggie Looks: Here’s Why Your Dog Is Watching You
By Clara Danneberg
Puppy dog eyes are so cute that they can seem impossible to resist. But not all stares are created equal, and sometimes a dog’s stare can even get a little too intense. Fear not though, TAG24 is here to help you discover what’s behind those big round windows into your pet’s soul.
Everyone knows that there is good looks and bad looks.
But when a dog stares you in the eye, there may be more than just his desire to eat something at play.
They could be getting into a staring match to threaten or impose and determine who really is boss.
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But if you really want to know what your dog is trying to express, take a look at the rest of his posture.
If there is growling and a tense position along with the look, your dog is not in the mood to play. This is a threat and he must back off.
Even when there isn’t a growl, it doesn’t mean a stare isn’t something to worry about. If your dog whines or barks while refusing to break eye contact, he may be trying to tell you that something is wrong. In that case, it’s time for a trip to the vet.
But not all stares are something to stress about. There are multiple reasons why dogs seek to catch and hold their owners’ gaze.
Some looks are for treats or attention.
Sometimes a look is meant to say, “Hey your human, can you do something for me.”
In other words, a look can be a dog’s way of expressing high expectations: for food or for a walk.
The puppy could be fed up with being entertained and looking to hang out with its owner. He may just want simple interaction like cuddling or some serious playtime. The hope of a treat is also not far away.
In that sense, that hope should not always be fulfilled. Owners who can’t resist their dog’s puppy eyes may think they’re doing their dog a favor by rewarding that sweet look with scraps from his bowl. But in reality, they are training the dogs to beg. What makes sharing human food more problematic is that some foods that humans like can be deadly to dogs.
So the next time your four-legged best friend gives you that look that says, “You’ve got enough pizza to share,” ignoring it is the way to go.
This is not just about the food itself. If you constantly reward the dog with scraps, he will learn that he can influence a situation with a simple glance and will begin to experiment with what else can be influenced.
Dogs can show affection with a simple look
Have you ever caught your dog calmly looking at you while you’re not doing anything important? This is how you know that your four-legged friend really likes you.
When the two of you make eye contact, the dog’s pupils dilate and relax. This affectionate downward gaze is a positive thing. It can strengthen the bond between humans and pets. So the next time your dog looks at you, maybe that’s his way of saying, “Hi, I love you.”
Dogs also have shorter sleep phases than their owners, so if you see your dog staring in the middle of the night, he may be half asleep and thinking about snacks. Or you could be checking to make sure the people you care about are still there.
The most vulnerable type of look.
Some dogs watch their owners while they relieve themselves. Although first-time dog owners may find this disconcerting, it is simple animal instinct at work.
Dogs are pack animals. And when you and your dog have a good relationship, you are the leader of the pack.
That comes with certain responsibilities. Your dog expects you to watch his back while he’s stuck in a vulnerable position. He is looking for reassurance, and perhaps a treat or praise for doing the deed in the right place.
However, if a dog is having difficulty pooping, the situation can be stressful.
Blank stares aren’t just a human thing
Just like humans, dogs can also stare in total confusion.
If your dog looks at you blankly while you keep repeating a command, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ignoring you.
It’s also quite possible that your dog just doesn’t understand what you want. Maybe the command was unclear or you still need some training.
Dog training requires a lot of patience. But it also requires clarity on the part of the owner. There is no room for confusing communication if you want to get the right reaction.
The words you use are important, but so is your tone. If you say something angry, your dog will hear it in your voice, and nobody likes to be yelled at.
Even if you think your dog’s gaze defies interpretation, one thing is clear: he has your attention for the moment. He tries to make those shared glances positive moments that help your relationship grow.
Cover Photo: unsplash/Matt Silveira