Why is your dog staring at you? Staring is a behavior that puzzles and sometimes worries many pet parents. There are many good reasons why your dog is staring at you.
He is showing affection
Just as you gaze lovingly into your partner’s eyes, dogs look into our eyes to indicate they like us. You’ll see your dog has a soft expression, maybe with slightly squinty eyes.
Please note this gaze should be a voluntary behavior. You should never hold a dog’s head still and stare into his eyes hoping for a mutual loving gaze. This can be a common mistake made by young children who often like to hold dogs still so they can look at them more closely. Your dog could take this action as a threat and may not react affectionately at all. But if your dog is staring at you all gooey-eyed, this is usually just what it looks like—a sign that he loves you!
He’s looking for clues
Dogs are much better at reading our body language than we are at reading theirs. Their sense of smell and hearing are more acute than ours, and it also benefits them as a species to be super-observant. They can figure out when you’re about to leave for work—you may get your coat, pick up your keys or pick up a purse or a briefcase. They know when you pull out a suitcase you may be leaving them behind. They can often tell when you’re not feeling well, when you’ve had a cranky day or when you’re sad.
When your dog stares at you he’s monitoring your behavior to find out what’s going on and how it will impact him.
He needs something
Maybe he really needs to go outside. Maybe he’s starving because you’re five minutes late feeding him dinner. Maybe he just lost his ball under the couch and you’re the only one who can save it. Dogs can’t talk to us to tell us what they want, but many dogs have wonderfully expressive eyes and use them to try and communicate with us. So your dog could be staring at you because he needs you to help him with something.
You’re eating something
Just because your dog has never had a potato chip in his life doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be game to help you eat that bag of chips right now. The answer is much simpler–your dog isn’t trying to elevate his position; your dog just wants you to share!
If you ever fed your dog while you were eating you taught him to stare at you; he now expects you to do it again. So you may have created a habit you now find annoying. Whether or not you taught the behavior, if it bothers you, you can train your dog to settle on his bed with a food-stuffed toy while you eat or simply put him in another room.
When your dog stares at you, there can be many things behind those eyes, but most often it is love or the desire to communicate a desire or a need. After all, when you return the gaze, you’re looking into the eyes of a sensitive (and frequently hungry) friend.