Skip to Content

My Dog Stares At Me (9 Burning Questions Answered + Tips)

Why does my dog stare at me

You’re watching a movie at home… and IT happens.

It’s the same when you’re preparing food. Or when you go to the toilet.

Even when you’re about to fall asleep.

And at some point you can ‘t help but wonder…

Why does my dog stare at me?

You’re in luck – here you’ll find out:

  • Exactly why your dog stares at you (in 9 common situations).
  • Specific advice on what to do in a variety of situations when your dog does this.
  • Fact: If your dog stares at you it might have something to do with their survival instinct (see #3).
  • And more…

“My dog stares at me” – 9 questions answered

#1: Why does my dog stare at me constantly (all the time)?

Your dog stares at you constantly (all the time) because they’re reading you. Specifically, they get cues by watching your facial expressions or listening to your voice. As such, your gestures and your movements do not escape their notice. In addition, they stare at you because they want to communicate with you.

What to do about it:

  1. Sometimes you have to be careful around your dog. Like children, dogs learn from observing you. For instance, dogs know that humans go soft for a sad facial expression. That’s what this particular research has found out. Your dog could use this facial expression to get you to give them more treats.
  1. You can get cues from your dog’s reaction to your actions. For instance, dogs flinch when you suddenly hit your palm. It scares them. They react as though you’re about to hit them.
  1. Your dog staring at you is a good start to bond with them. You can use these instances to smile at them and talk to them. Dogs are good listeners.
  1. When your dog is staring at you, it’s likely that they’re focusing on you. This is conducive for training them because you have their attention. You can build the training by starting with commands such as ‘watch me.’
  1. Look for other clues besides the stare. If they’re not stressed, or not looking for attention, then they’re probably just chilling.

#2: Why does my dog stare at me when I sleep?

Dog Staring For Food

Your dog stares at you when you sleep because they need something from you. It could be attention or food. They may also want you to wake up so you can play with them or take them outside. In some cases, if they can’t sleep, they want to sleep on the bed with you.

What to do about it:

  1. Make sure your dog is fed before you go to sleep.
  1. Scheduling sleep will be of great help. So make sure your dog sleeps at the same time every day. Much better if they sleep at night when you do. This eliminates chances of them going to your room in the middle of the night.
  1. Give them a comfortable place to sleep. A comfortable bed and blanket go a long way in ensuring they get a good night’s sleep. And that means peace of mind and a night of uninterrupted sleep for you.
  1. Some dogs stare at you when you sleep if they’re unwell. They are trying to communicate with you. This is what an owner from the forum Quora recounted. She said that she woke up to her Border Collie staring at her. Turned out her dog was sick. At first, your dog may not be fully aware that you’re sleeping. And when they realize you are, they will try other means of communication. Such as tapping your shoulder, whining, or licking your face.
  1. If they want to sleep on the bed with you, they’re probably restless. To avoid this scenario, put their bed somewhere in the house that is quiet. They need their sleep as much as you do.

#3: Why does my dog stare at me when he poops?

Your dog stares at you when he poops because it’s a survival instinct. When they poop, they are in a very vulnerable position. They are totally defenseless. In fact, this is the most difficult time to fight or flee. They stare at you to make sure you’re standing guard while they’re taking a dump.

What to do about it:

  1. Let your dog poop in peace. Do not make sudden movements, such as running away, if there is no need for it. They are at their most vulnerable. So it doesn’t make sense to scare them while pooping.
  1. Let them know they can trust you during this awkward (for you, that is) time. Wait patiently while they do their business. You being there is enough to let them know that you’ll defend them anytime.
  1. Some dogs do not poop if someone is watching. Respect that, as long as you know they’re safe where they choose to poop. In some cases pooping away from people makes them feel safer.
  1. Be a responsible owner by not leaving your dog’s poop behind.

Want to know more about dog poop?

Did you know how important it is to properly dispose of your dog’s poop? These days there are tools to help people pick up and dispose of poop.

But back in the day, dogs just pooped anywhere. Even in the streets. Poor people who accidentally stepped on those mounds.

Apparently, the owners did not pick up the poop because it was disgusting. I mean, you get them, right?

Fortunately, a growing trend for people being responsible for their dog’s poop began. If you’re one of these people, congrats! If not, do you know…

Why should you pick up your dog’s poop?

I can give you at least 3 reasons why (plus a bonus one). Here we go:

  1. You are a grown responsible person. Aren’t you?
  2. Dog poop carries diseases and parasites. These pose risk to other people and animals.
  3. Dogs are the biggest source of enterococci on the beach. This is according to this 2009 study. Enterococci cause infections in humans.

Bonus: In addition, a dog’s poop carries waterborne pathogens such as Giardia. Thus, pooping near bodies of water is not a good idea.

Thankfully, there are products for picking up poop. And some doggie bags can be flushed down the toilet.

#4: Why does my dog stare at me when I eat?

Your dog stares at you when you eat because they want you to share your food. They learn through association that staring leads to a positive outcome. Thus, they anticipate being fed if they stare long enough while you eat.

What to do about it:

Some owners don’t like being under the intense gaze of their dog while they eat. Prevent this occurrence by limiting the dog’s access to the table.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use a baby gate to keep your dog in another room while you eat.
  1. Crate-train your dog and put them there while you eat.
  1. Give them something else to do. Ask them to lie down or stay in their bed. This is also applicable to other situations, such as when your friends come over. Ask your dog to stay in their bed instead of jumping at your visitors.
  1. Keep them busy by giving them a chew bone or a toy stuffed with treats.
  1. Prevent them from begging by not giving them food at the table. Ignore them when they whine, bark, or stare at you.
  1. Do not yell at them when they beg for food. It will make them beg for more.

#5: Why does my dog stare at me when I poop?

Your dog stares at you when you poop because it’s either they know what you’re doing and are looking out for you, or are curious, or they’re having a bonding moment with you. They could also notice changes in your facial expression that warrants staring.

What to do about it:

  1. If you don’t want them following you in the bathroom, condition them out of the behavior. Try crate training. This is where you teach your dog to love being in the crate. Then put them in the crate instead of letting them follow you around.
  1. Teach them commands such as ‘stay’ and ‘sit.’ Have them stay on the mat outside the bathroom while you do your business. Don’t forget to give them a treat and some praises when you step out of the bathroom.
  1. Give your dog specific toys that you only give them while you’re in the bathroom and your dog is outside. This way your dog will be interested in the toys and is more likely to play with them while you’re in the bathroom.
  1. Desensitize your dog to you leaving the room. It helps to stop them from following you into the bathroom.
  1. If you think this is due to separation anxiety, it’s best to consult a behaviorist or a vet. They can help you find ways to curb the behavior.

#6: Why does my dog stare at me from across the room?

Your dog stares at you from across the room because they’re waiting for cues. They want to know if you want them to perform a specific task. They also wait for opportunities to get a treat or play with you. But sometimes, they just want to go outside.

What to do about it:

  1. If you give them a command and they just tilt their head, they could be confused. In such cases, it’s good to backtrack training. Re-train the behavior.
  1. Be clear and consistent with your commands. So instead of saying, ‘Get your toy,’ say ‘Get Squishie.’
  1. Use positive reinforcement. Reward with tasty treats and praises when they correctly follow your command.
  1. Some dog owners don’t want their dog staring if they want to go outside. You can instead teach them to ring a bell. Here’s how one dog mom taught her dog to ring a bell (this is doable and training doesn’t take long):
  1. Not all stares are the same. Sometimes a dog stares out of aggression.

Warning: If you approach them or their food or toy, and they turn and stare right at you, slowly back off.

Watch out for other signs of aggression, such as:

  • Stiff tail.
  • Stiff body.
  • Closed mouth.
  • Lowered head.
  • Ears pinned backward or forward.

Do not confront your dog when you see any of these signs.

#7: Why does my dog stare at me while falling asleep?

Your dog stares at you while falling asleep because they love and like to see your face when they fall asleep. They also do this when they want to make sure you won’t take off while they’re sleeping. Or they could be looking at something near you before they fall asleep.

What to do about it:

  1. A dog staring at you while they fall asleep is generally harmless. Let them sleep.
  1. One dog owner from Quora shared how her dog stares at her to make sure she stays before he falls asleep. Interestingly, the dog only does this after she’s been away. The only thing you can do under the circumstances is reassuring your dog that you’ll always come home.
  1. Sometimes you think your dog is staring at you. But in reality, they are asleep. That’s the work of the nictitating membrane. It protects the eyes and keeps them from becoming dry. This membrane is also called the third eyelid. In dogs this is opaque. When your dog falls asleep with eyes open, this membrane covers their eyes.

#8: Why does my dog stare at me when I pet him?

Your dog stares at you when you pet him because he’s either connecting with you or he doesn’t want to be petted. He wants to connect with you if he stares with a relaxed body language. However, he wants you to stop petting him if he stares at you with the whites of his eyes exposed.

What to do about it:

  1. When you pet your dog, always look out for his facial expression and body language. They are in a good mood if they display the following:
  • Soft eyes.
  • Floppy ears.
  • Relaxed muscles.
  • Vigorous wagging tail.
  • Smiling (open mouth, corners turned up).
  1. Respect your dog’s wishes if he doesn’t want to be petted. Give him space if he shows any of the following signs:
  • Stiff tail.
  • Yawning.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Licks nose or lips.
  • Growling or snarling.
  • He shows teeth in an aggressive manner.
  • His ears are pinned back (sign of stress).
  • Staring at you with the whites (sclera) of his eyes exposed.

#9: Why does my dog stare at me and whine/bark? 

Your dog stares at you and whine/bark because they feel physical discomfort. If it’s the case, they will show other signs such as a tensed body. Other factors include asking for attention and interacting with you. However, there are times when they do it as a learned behavior.

What to do about it:

  1. Your dog communicates by staring at you and barking/whining. It could be that they’re in a foul mood. If they are, then observe them and answer these questions:
  • Are their body and tail stiff?
  • Is the tail wagging stiffly or vigorously?
  • Are they showing teeth in a tensed way?
  • Do they have a relaxed facial expression?

Your answers will point to how you should react. If they looked stressed, let them have a moment to settle down. 

  1. If your dog is relaxed when they stare and bark, they want to interact with you. Or asking for attention. By all means, give them attention by petting them. Or have some play time session with a ball or frisbee.
  1. If your dog is lying down while whining, it could be he’s hurt. First, check for visible signs of injury. Then bring them to a vet for a thorough assessment.
  1. Staring at you and whining could be your dog’s way of greeting you. Particularly if they have been trained to react this way.
  1. Staring and whining could be learned behavior. Perhaps in the past you have given them a treat when they did it.

To remedy this, wait until they have calmed down. Only then give them a reward or attention.