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Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

Learn why some dogs stare intently at their humans.

Does your dog stare at you when you're reading? Watching TV? Using the bathroom? If you have a dog that routinely sits and stares at you, it's normal to wonder why.

Note: It's important to remember that this article is discussing a dog that is staring at his owner while at home. If you encounter a dog you don't know that is staring at you, these reasons don't apply, and the dog might become aggressive toward you. Never look directly into the eyes of a dog you don't know.

Staring Dogs Usually Want Something

Of course, dogs are known for being loyal friends to their humans, and they often look at them to determine what their owner wants them to do.

Some dogs follow their owners around everywhere, and that's usually because of normal pack-related behavior in dogs.

But when a dog stares intently their owner with slightly tense muscles and facial expression, ready to jump at a moment's notice, it's usually because they want something. These dogs often expect a tasty treat, some table food, a walk outside, a car ride, or a play session.

If your dog begins staring intently at you periodically, it might be that something you've done triggered his expectation of getting something he likes. Maybe you walked near his leash or rattled the car keys.

If staring at you intently is something your dog seems to do routinely, even in the absence of such triggers, it could be that he's the type of dog who really likes to have something to do. He might always be watching for signs from you that you need or want him to do something. This is common in herding breeds.

Never look directly into the eyes of a dog you don't know. This can be taken as a challenge by some territorial or dominant dogs, and they may attack.

Some dogs stare at people because they're trying to figure out what the person is doing. This is especially the case if the person is muttering to themselves while they do a task. In that case, the dog might be trying to figure out what you're saying and whether you want him to do something.

How to Stop Your Dog from Staring at You

Most of the time, it's not a problem to have a dog that watches you intently. In fact, it's usually a good thing and helps encourage bonding and makes training easier. If you have a dog that seems to always be watching you, at the ready for instructions, consider taking a dog agility class with him—he might love it.

If, however, you're really not a fan of being stared at, you might be able to redirect at least some of the behavior by giving your dog something else to do instead. Try a puzzle toy, which releases treats or kibble when your dog works on it for a while.

If your dog stares at you at certain times, and you specifically want him not to during those times, you can arrange for something else to capture his attention then. For instance, while you are in the bathroom or during TV-watching time.

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