Why Does My Dog Sit and Stare at Me?

Adrienne Farricelli

If your dog sits and stares at you intently, you may be wondering what's going on his brain. Here are a few ideas.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but when your dog is sitting and staring at your intently, what does he really want? What's going on his mind? If only we could read it, life would be much easier with our canine companions. Of course, until the day dogs can talk or sit down on a psychologist's bed, we can only make assumptions on what is going through their minds. However, based on the context in which the staring occurs, we can sometimes make some rather educated guesses. Here are some possible reasons as to why your dog sits and stares at you.

I Need a Potty Break

OK, this is far from being romantic, but often times, a dog who sits in front of you and stares at you intently has a bathroom appointment and is asking you kindly to go open the door. Here's the thing, dogs are smart and they quickly learn to associate your presence at the door with the relief of going potty outdoors. Dogs therefore put two and two together, so when they feel an urge to potty, they will often walk back and forth towards the door and then try to get your attention to get you to open it for them. Some dogs will bark, some others may pace and whine and some will just sit and stare at you intently. If you get up, they'll get excited and try to herd you towards the door as if praising you: "Yes! you got it right, I need to go outside!"

I Would Like Some Food

Many dogs will sit and stare at you when you are eating something that they hope to get a piece of. Yes, it's begging, and no, it's not very polite if the dog doesn't take his eye off of you and then escalates into pawing at you and barking. Many dogs will sit and stare at you when you are eating with the most pleading eyes, in hopes of garnering your attention and letting you give in. They act as if they are starving and dying to just have a tiny piece. Many dog owners cannot resist that face, and ultimately give up and give a piece only to regret it later when their dogs punctually sit and stare every single day becoming lifelong table mates.

I Would Like Attention

Many dogs crave attention especially when you work for long hours each day and your return is the biggest perk of your dog's day. It's therefore normal for dogs to sit and stare at your intently when you come home from work and then sit on the couch. "Hey, what about me? I deserve my slice of attention too!" The type of attention your dog craves may vary from one dog to another and their individual preferences. Perhaps your dog just wants you to pet him, or toss him a toy, or perhaps your dog may want to go out on a walk with you or on a car ride. Make sure to reserve some time of the day for your canine companion, he certainly deserves it.

I Am Trying to Understand You

One of the best perks of owning dogs is that it requires mutual understanding. We try to better comprehend what our dogs are trying to tell us, and dogs try to decipher what we are trying to communicate. Dogs can be very in tune with us and seem even eager to even understand what we are saying when we're talking. Some dogs owner state it's as if their dogs are trying to read them like a book. Perhaps you just pronounced a word that your dog knows through associative learning such as "walk" or "cookie" and your dog is tilting his head, adoringly staring at you. Perhaps he has sensed sadness or some other emotion and he's trying to understand how to react.

I am Not Comfortable

Sometimes, dogs may sit in front of you and stare at you with a concerned, anxious look in their face. This may be the dog's way of telling you that he's not feeling well and is looking for your help. Be your dog's ambassador and take him to the vet if you sense something is wrong. Perhaps your dog has neck pain, back pain or nausea, perhaps his tummy hurts. Perhaps, your dog is scared or anxious about something and his hoping for your intervention. Try getting up and see if your dog takes you to what's preoccupying him.

A Word of Caution

Consider that staring among dogs is considered potentially confrontational, so if your dog is looking at you directly with a hard stare and/or his body language seems confrontational or defensive, avoid staring at him back. Look away. It could be your dog is guarding something or is not comfortable around you. If your dog's stare is hard rather than soft and appears aggressive, consult with a dog behavior professional using force-free behavior modification for safety and possibly for the implementation of behavior modification.