From a human perspective it’s weird that your dog stands in front of you.
However, from a dog perspective it’s completely normal (you’ll discover why in a bit).
Read on to find out:
- 3 common situations why dogs stand in front of you.
- 7 real reasons why your dog stands in front of you (and stares/barks).
- What science has to say about dogs sensing danger and alerting their humans.
- And much, much more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog stand in front of me?
Your dog stands in front of you to show affection and to follow you around. This happens most often when they have not seen you for hours. So when you come home from work, they are eager to interact with you. Even if it means following you everywhere.
Why does my dog stand in front of me and stare?
Your dog stands in front of you and stares because they are observing you. They look at your facial expressions and body language to gauge your disposition at the moment. On the other hand, they could sense something beyond human comprehension. And staring at you is their way of alerting you.
Why does my dog stand in front of me and bark?
Your dog stands in front of you and barks because they are stressed or hungry. The hungrier and more stressed they are, the more they will bark. They use this behavior to bring your attention to their hunger or to whatever worries them.
Human beings have the best animal relationship with dogs. We complement each other because we’re both social creatures.
Not only that. Humans and dogs bond extensively. Even if dogs can’t talk, they understand you through spoken words (how amazing is that) and non-verbal language.
Because of this relationship, dogs display behaviors that are similar to humans’. They also portray similar emotions that cover a broad spectrum.
And these emotions manifest in their actions, such as standing or barking in front of you.
7 top reasons why your dog stands in front of you (and stares/barks)
#1: They show care and affection
Dogs display positive attitudes in familiar situations.
Think of the many times you come home after work.
You may not know it. But just hearing the approach of your car sends your dog into a dance of happiness!
And when you come through that door, they immediately come close. They sweetly acknowledge your presence in their many ways.
They wag their tail vigorously. Sometimes they do the play bow.
Or the full-body shake. This is my dog’s trademark. We like to call Lissa ‘the full-body shake lady’.
Other dogs simply stand in front of you and stare as they wait for you to notice them.
These are an indication of their interest and longing to interact with you.
#2: They are confronted by a stranger
Do you notice how a dog’s behavior changes depending on who they’re faced with?
With you, or members of your family, they are these perfect darlings. They are lovable and a very loyal companion.
You can also count on them to watch the house while you’re away. Or to accompany you to walks and strolls.
But it’s a different story when they’re faced with another person. Say, a friend or a relative they don’t see much. Your dog acts differently around them.
This is especially true in the presence of a stranger. It causes your dog to go on full alert mode.
Sometimes your dog would stand in front of you and bark
In which case they are trying to tell you something.
Note: They display such behavior if they feel threatened. Or they think that the stranger might be a danger to you. Or they’re trying to stop the stranger from doing anything.
I remember multiple situations in which Lissa has voiced out her opinion like that. One of the first times it happened, I was with a friend.
My friend looked at Lissa who was staring intensely at me and barking at the same time. Then the friend said ‘She’s communicating with you’.
The fascinating part is that this friend of mine is not really a dog person. She hadn’t grown up with dogs or came to love them. But she’s curious about them and noticed. Spot-on!
#3: They sense danger
Your dog stands in front of you and stares to send you a message.
They sense danger, or something unusual.
It’s best to trust dogs in these instances. They have a strong scent receptor that could catch things humans can’t.
They could also hear sounds from very far away that are lost on human ears.
In fact, there have been instances in the past when animals, not just dogs, behaved strangely before something happened.
Take the 2005 tsunami for example. It left more than 150,000 humans dead. And yet, only two buffalos were recorded dead in the aftermath.
But shortly before the tsunami, people observed the strange behaviors of animals. Someone said that his two dogs refused to go on their daily run on the beach.
In addition, elephants ran away from the beach an hour before the tsunami hit.
Another event, an earthquake, had animals behaving strangely. It happened the day before a level 6.8 earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.
Almost 100 out of 200 dogs showed increased levels of anxiety. And 47% of dogs were more active than usual.
However, no research had been done to study such canine behaviors that manifest before a catastrophe happens.
#4: They are stressed
Just like humans, dogs are sometimes exposed to a situation they don’t like.
For instance, you take them to the mall and they don’t like the noise. Or the sea of unfamiliar people.
Sometimes meeting other people or pets can stress your dog.
They respond to stress in different ways. They might scoot closer to you or refuse to walk.
Or they respond by standing in front of you and barking in righteous indignation. Kinda like saying, ‘Why did you bring me here, human?’
They bark because they are stressed. The intensity of barking determines the level of stress the dog has, according to this study.
#5: They are hungry
Your dog stands in front of you and stares or barks to appeal for food.
Sometimes a dog scouts for food around. If unsuccessful, they would go to you, stand in front of you to get your attention.
This Shiba Inu definitely knows how to bring attention to his hunger:
And if you don’t notice them fast enough, they would bark to make a point. To remind you to feed them. Now.
#6: They observe you
More than 30,000 years of human-dog relationship and now dogs act like humans.
They know if you’re angry, sad, or happy based on your facial expressions. They can tell you’re stressed or attentive by your body language.
Dogs also manifest behaviors akin to humans, such as being possessive of what they own.
They can only achieve all these by observing you.
Perhaps you’ve noticed how your dog stands in front of you, quietly following your movements.
Sometimes they lie across the room, their head on their paws. But their eyes tell you they’re looking at you.
These are the times you’re under their scrutiny.
#7: They want to follow you everywhere
Your dog simply wants to follow you.
It’s because they don’t want you out of their sights. They want to know what you’re doing, and if they could join, too!
Okay, so maybe not when you’re in the bathroom.
But dogs are curious creatures. ‘What are you doing in the kitchen, mom? Can I have some chicken?’
Or perhaps they want to sniff your socks one more time before you throw them in the washer.
Bonus: They want to play with you
Dogs would get any chance to have you interact with them.
Whether it’s by giving them attention or engaging in a play session.
Play is one of the things that are rewarding for dogs. In fact, you can use it to reinforce a behavior, along with food, praise, and attention.
Are you familiar with Chase, the genius Border Collie who knows more than a thousand words? If not, check her out here:
Her owner, John, claimed that it was play, and not food, that was more effective in training her.
If your dog got used to being rewarded with play, then they’ll stand in front of you and stare. They are waiting for you to throw that ball.
In Lissa’s case, she’d also bark (just in case we’re in doubt of what she wants from us).
3 tips to stop your dog from standing in front of you
#1: Train them not to stand in front of you
Humans can be influenced. And so can dogs.
This study suggests that people can train their dogs to possess desirable behaviors. Reinforcement makes it a possibility.
Through reinforcement, dogs would constantly display a certain behavior.
It’s possible for your dogs to learn a lot of these behaviors. Provided that you train them early on.
Similarly, you can train your dog to discard undesirable behaviors. That’s by replacing those behaviors with something else.
So if it annoys you when your dog stands in front of you, find a replacement behavior. You can teach them to lie down on their bed instead.
#2: Distract them
Stop your dog from standing in front of you and barking by distracting them. The distraction should induce similar or higher interest.
For example, let them move freely in the house. They could go anywhere and be comfortable.
They should be allowed to be detached from their owners as well. This is in the form of ‘me time.’ Allow them to hang out by themselves in their crate.
This separation is telling your dog that you don’t have to have shared activities all the time.
Expose them to different situations as well. They could be doing other things other than standing in front of you.
Give them things to do at home. For instance, have them pick up the toys that they left lying around. Or they could interact with other members of the family.
You could also give them a puzzle toy to keep them distracted. A puzzle toy requires their focus, and so they have something else to do.
In addition, a puzzle toy will give them a mentally stimulating activity.
#3: Play with them
It’s true that your dog benefits greatly from some ‘me time.’
But it’s also beneficial that you spend some quality time with them. This is a get-to-know-you stage for the two of you that could strengthen your bond.
In addition, spending time with your dog makes you aware of what’s going on.
You’ll know why they stand in front of you. Thus, you can think of better ways to address the behavior.
If you think they stand in front of you to show their love, then let it be. But if the behavior becomes annoying, training for a new desirable behavior is in order.