Why Do Dogs Stare At You? Should You Stare Back At Them?

Shirin Biswas
Feb 18, 2023 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Portrait of cute puppy staring at camera

Dogs are known all over the world for how adorable they look with a tilted head and puppy-eyes.

But, did you know that something as simple as a little eye contact with your buddy can release oxytocin into your bloodstream and make you feel like you are bonded for life. Your dog's eyes are very vocal and there are layers to what staring may mean in different situations.

Let's try to understand the difference between a hard stare and a soft stare so that, the next time your canine best friend hits you with an unknown expression, you can work out exactly what to do and which tips to follow!

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about why do dogs eat dirt and why do dogs scratch the carpet.

What are they trying to communicate?

Chances are that, if you have had your pet dog staring at you all the time, you will want to get to the bottom of the issue and understand what exactly could be causing such behavior.

A dog stare, whether it be soft, puppy eyes, or harsh and aggressive ones, has a lot more to say and express than we may immediately understand.

The first and most adorable reason why your dog might be staring at you a lot is simply because they want to show their affection and appreciation towards the person that they love the most.

This is one of the signs that you have succeeded as a pet parent and that your pet would do anything for you!

One reason why your pet might be looking at you with begging eyes while you are at the dinner table is because it wants some food scraps and some extra attention.

Dogs know pretty well that their 'puppy eyes' can melt through everyone's hearts and turn them into mush, and, if they do want something from your plate of food, chances are that they will watch you eating until their desire has been fulfilled.

Dogs look to humans for direction once they begin to enjoy their training, and hence, if your canine friend has been staring at you while taking a walk in the park, maybe the little guy is confused about where to go.

Your canine friend is an animal, so it does not share the same language as us. Therefore, it is hardly a matter of surprise that it may seek attention through staring behavior.

Dog stares can also mean that they are hungry, want a toy or have to poop!

If your canine family member has been trained in such a way that it can only poop outside the house, it will definitely wait for the pet owner (you) to allow it to go outside and take care of its needs. Such attention seeking dog behavior is quite typical and can be seen across all sorts of dog breeds.

Since dog owners are the only authoritative and yet friendly figure that your animal will completely submit to, dogs make use of their body language and eye contact to communicate any desires, whether it be extra cuddles, wanting to play or just wanting to go to the loo!

When the stare is not straight and your pup does not need to go outside, a cocked head usually shows confusion.

This body language, combined with eye contact, means that the dog is awaiting some sign or command from its owners.

After training, dogs usually learn to look to their human friends for directions and commands, and hence, if you haven't given your pup any instructions of what it should be doing, expect some confused staring!

Why do some dogs stare at you and not others?

Soft dog-staring is typically seen in cases where a pet stares at its owners. Such eye contact shows the bond between the dog's owners and the animal itself.

Understandably, since such a bond will rarely be shared with people outside of the house, your canine best friend will typically stare at you and not other dogs.

In the rare case that you get caught in a dog's stare and feel uncomfortable, it will typically be from a strange dog that will treat you with a hard stare. A hard stare is basically a symbol of aggression, and you should definitely take it as a sign to stay as far away as possible.

Dogs and humans don't share the same language of communication and, to cope with the language barrier, eyes play as much of a role as they do in typical conversations between humans!

Black dog Labrador retriever closeup face and look

Why don't dogs like it when you stare at them?

While you may think that you are just holding the gaze of your dog in a friendly way, dogs don't think the same way about humans staring at them.

In dog language, staring is a rude thing to do and can even be interpreted as aggression. You may have noticed that your dog will try to avert its eyes or try to break your gaze with a yawn or a paw in front of its face.

This is a way to make sure that you notice that the furry animal is uncomfortable with your staring eyes.

However, it is common that a human being and their canine best friend will make fleeting eye contact throughout the day.

Did you know that when a human being and their pet dog stare at each other, a hormone called oxytocin is released in the human body. Oxytocin is the hormone of love and affection, and so no wonder pet parents start to feel extremely happy after having some time with their furry ball of joy!

Do dogs know when you stare at them?

Some scientists and researchers suggest that dogs have the ability to sense exactly when someone is staring at them.

While we do not have enough evidence to back that theory, proper training can be directly related to such seemingly supernatural abilities. Understandably, a dog's senses are way stronger than any human's, and so the possibility that dogs can tell when they are being stared at shouldn't be ruled out.

Why do dogs stare at you from the side?

We know it might be a little creepy when your dog starts staring at you from the side. The first thing to clarify here would be that a side-eye from your pet does not mean it will bite you or steal your food.

This kind of staring is a sign that your beloved pup wants some space! Yes, dogs too want space once in a while.

Maybe you have gotten too close to a toy that they have been hiding or a bone that they want to eat in peace. In such situations, the most important thing to keep in mind is to allow the animal some time on its own.

While we have been discussing all of the friendly types of stares that your dog could be giving you, there are some stares that can be problematic and should be looked into.

If your dog has been staring into the void and has been behaving unusually, make sure to visit a veterinarian because there might be underlying medical issues causing it.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly factsfor everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs stare at you then why not take a look at why do dogs get the zoomies, or Icelandic Sheepdog facts.

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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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