One day you caught yourself staring at your pooch.
You can’t help it. They look super cute with their beady eyes.
And the more you stare, the more adorable they become.
Your dog’s barks break your trance.
“What’s up with the bark, doggo?”
In this article, you’ll find out:
- Is it okay to stare at your dog?
- 3 things to do if your pooch dislikes staring.
- 11 reasons why your dog barks when you stare at it.
- And much more…
Why does my dog bark when I stare at it?
Your dog barks when you stare at it for reasons such as hating being stared at, waiting for directions, getting nervous, inviting you to play, being aggressive or fearful, threatening, needing something, reinforcing, warning you, or having dog dementia.
11 reasons why your dog barks when you stare at it
#1: They hate being stared at
When somebody stares at you out of nowhere, you’d probably ask them this.
“What the heck are you looking at?”
You may also think the person looking at you is a total weirdo.
For us humans, staring is totally rude and offensive.
Now it’s your dog’s turn.
Well, they can’t exactly ask you why you’re staring at them. Therefore they bark to let us know that they dislike being looked at.
Aside from barking, your dog may also show you through body language how they’re feeling.
Here are other signs to look for if your dog’s uncomfortable with stares:
- Licking of lips.
- Trying to look away or avert your gaze.
- Shaking their body (like they do after a bath).
Read further: Why Does My Dog Hate Me?
#2: Staring makes them nervous
A brief eye contact is okay with your pooch. But once you stare at them for more than 3 seconds, chaos ensues.
Staring makes dogs nervous and anxious. Therefore they’d bark at you to make you stop immediately.
So what’s the big deal about it exactly? Well, for dogs, staring could mean different things.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Are you staring because you’re mad at me?”
“What do you want from me, hummaannn!?”
All these questions in your dog’s mind, but the only thing they can come up with is a big ‘Woof’!
#3: It’s an invitation to play
Sometimes, you can’t help but stare at your dog. Especially when they’re being irresistible.
If your pooch is a socialized dog, they won’t think badly of the staring. They’d even see a stranger’s or other dog’s gaze as an invitation to become best friends.
For them, you’re looking because you want to play.
So they bark as their response. Your pup’s more than happy to engage.
Observe their body language.
They’d start with their playful attack pose by lowering their body.
Tail wagging and tongue’s out. Never breaking eye contact with you.
Once you start coming near them, they’d bolt out running, hoping you’re gonna chase them.
#4: It triggers their aggressiveness
One time you were staring at your pooch while they’re minding their own business.
You don’t mean anything by it. It just so happened you’re staring out of the blue.
But suddenly, your dog barks in an alarming tone.
“Hey, calm down.”, you told them.
“What the heck was that?”
Not all dogs think of staring as a call for play.
Because staring can also make a dog feel threatened, it triggers their ‘fight or flight’ response. Therefore they think of it as a challenge.
They bark (they may even growl on some occasions) because they’re willing to fight and become aggressive if need be.
You can tell if your dog’s barks are caused by aggressiveness if they’re low-pitched.
Also, if it’s accompanied by backing away and lunging movements.
#5: They’re scared
Sometimes, staring can also trigger your dog’s trauma.
“But how is that possible, Petya?”
Rescue dogs, or those who come from a shelter/breeder are the most often to have bad experiences from their previous dog parents.
If your dog was once abused in some way, they might see staring as something alarming.
It’s possible that their abuser stared at them first before hitting them when they did something bad.
Therefore when you do it, they bark to defend themselves from possibly getting hit.
#6: It’s their natural instinct
Have you seen your dog when they’re being cautious with another dog?
Notice their body language.
They stand very still. And their eyes are locked on to each other. They may also growl in low sounds.
The moment you pull on their leash to prevent them from fighting, they start snapping at each other.
Dogs are the same as all predators.
They look into the eyes to threaten their prey before they attack. So if you stare too long, they perceive it as you’re trying to engage them in combat.
#7: They need something
When you stare at your dog, they stare back at you. Then they bark in a high-pitched tone.
“Let’s see…Do you want to go out or are you hungry?”, you ask them.
Your pooch is a harmless little ball of fluff.
They aren’t the one to cause trouble. And the only reason they bark when you stare at them is because they need something.
Your pooch sees your staring as a chance to get what they want. Therefore, they’d bark to get your attention.
In your pooch’s mind, staring equals goofing around.
Whenever you get into a staring contest with them, they bark first. Then they bring out their paw and lower their body.
“Come on, mama!”
And for the highlight of their performance, they spin around on their butts.
Your silly dog never fails to crack you up!
And because your pooch sees that you enjoy them doing this, they perceive it as something positive to do.
#9: It’s a warning
Whenever your dog’s eating, you avoid their eyes as much as you can.
Because the moment they catch you staring at them, they’d go into a barking frenzy until you move away.
It seems like your dog is resource guarding.
They look at your staring as a signal that you want to get their food or anything they think is valuable at that time.
Here’s some other signs to know if you have a possessive pooch:
- Air snapping.
- Tail not wagging.
- Ears pinned back.
- Side-eye staring or hard stare.
#10: Dog dementia
Once your dog ages, they start to develop strange habits.
They may get stuck on furniture or pace around the house constantly.
Aside from that, their behaviors will also change. While there are others who’ll get clingier to their dog parents, there are also those who’ll get irritable.
This condition is known as dog dementia or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.
Because of CCD, your dog may also start to forget who you are. You’ll become a stranger in their eyes.
So they’d bark when they see you staring at them.
#11: They’re waiting for directions
You’re in the middle of playing with your dog. Then you suddenly blocked out.
You stared at your dog and asked them:
“What was I gonna do again?”
Your dog barks because they’re getting impatient waiting for your command or direction.
No harm in that. They’re just trying to remind you to give the command so they can probably receive their treat or reward faster.
3 tips on what to do if your dog barks when you stare at it
#1: Know the cause
If your dog’s bark isn’t causing any harm, then there’s no need to stop it.
However, if it’s troublesome to the point that nobody can stare at your dog without them getting aggressive, then you should correct this behavior.
This is not only for you, but for others safety as well.
The first thing you should know is what’s causing this problem.
What activity are they doing when they bark?
Observe their body language. You can also write everything down so you don’t miss on anything.
Once you know these things, you’ll be able to correct this behavior more effectively.
#2: Let them socialize
By letting your dog meet other dogs, they’ll learn that staring doesn’t necessarily mean something negative.
They’ll learn that sometimes, dogs stare as an invitation for playtime and fun.
So to help your pooch understand this, have them socialized. Not just with other pooches in your neighborhood, but also with other people.
By doing this, they’ll also perceive staring as something nice and harmless behavior.
Warning: If you have an aggressive dog, introduce them first to another dog in a monitored and safe environment to avoid fights.
#3: ‘Watch me’ exercise
You can also train your dog in getting used to being stared at by doing the ‘Watch me’ exercise with them.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Put your dog on a leash and guide them to sit in front of you.
Step 2: Place a treat on your right hand. Have them sniff it.
Step 3: Put the treat near your nose and chin. Make eye contact with your dog.
Step 4: Once they make eye contact with you, give them the treat.
Step 5: Continue with this exercise until your pooch gets used to staring at you.
And don’t forget to take breaks when you notice your pooch getting anxious with the exercise. They need to have a downtime just in case it gets overwhelming. 🙂
Bonus: Ask for a professional’s help
Let’s say that your dog’s hard-headed.
You’ve tried everything to stop them from barking at you and other people when they get stared at.
Whenever you ride on the bus with them and they see someone looking at them, they bark to scare them off.
Embarrassingly, you just ask the strangers instead to avoid staring at your pooch.
In these cases, you can ask for a dog behaviorists’ or a trainer’s help. Or you can also ask for a vet’s advice here.