Is It Bad To Stare A Dog In The Eyes? Eye Contact With A Dog

Is It Bad To Stare A Dog In The Eyes? Eye Contact With A Dog

A dog owner gets stared at by his dog multiple times a day. This stare could mean your dog is studying you, asking for something, waiting for your approval, etc. Learning how to read the puppy’s look helps us understand our dog’s behavior as well as tend to his needs timely. 

But is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes? While staring directly at a strange dog might make him feel threatened, staring at your pet is occasionally approvable, depending on the circumstances. But you should do it in a way that doesn’t make your doggo feel insecure and scared. Your stare must be able to convey a message to your dog, not scare him.

After all, we are pet parents, and our dogs talk with eyes throughout the day. Just one look from us will be enough to let the dog understand whether what he’s doing is acceptable or not.

But, because dogs typically read direct stares as an immediate threat, it is wise and advisable not to stare at a stranger dog’s eye. It will be an invitation for him to attack you, mostly out of fear. 

Is It Bad To Stare A Dog In The Eyes? – Should You Make Eye Contact With A Dog?

Suppose it is your pet. Then NO. But if it is a stranger dog, such as a stray dog or a doggo that you are unfamiliar with, then YES. But why is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes?

One, dogs have not always been domesticated pets. They have been wild animals since their origin. But around 14,000 years to 25,000 years ago, humans were able to make them socialize with us and make us man’s best friends. 

Even though that is true, their wild instincts still reside in their genes. It is nearly impossible to remove all these instincts, yet, with proper training, you can make them behave in much-accepted ways.

And one of those instincts that are impossible to cure is how they feel about direct eye contact and stares. 

Your pet dog might be used to your body language and understands your looks and moods. And if you have trained him that way, such as service dogs, your pooch will look at you for direct eye contact that signals approval on something. 

And you doggo is not overwhelmed if you stare at them directly for a moment or two. They will not feel threatened or scared unless your face is murderously gloomy and has a scary look when you do that.

Sometimes, your pet may even look away when you stare at him directly. And that might mean you are making him uncomfortable by staring at him. 

But, some dogs use your stare as a sign. They would wait for you to look at him directly and nod after you just poured him his pet food. They will look at you for your sign before doing anything, even things like peeing. 

While that is true, you may not be able to say the same if you stare directly at an unknown dog. As I explained before, a stranger dog might get scared and offended by your stare and attack you if you stare directly at him. So don’t go and stare at any other dog except for yours. 

Do Dogs Get Scared When You Look Them In The Eye?

Most dogs get scared when you stare right at them. Even if he’s your dog, who has been with you for years, he will get intimidated if you look him straight in his eyes.

While your dog may resist attacking you out of fear, you cannot say the same to a stranger dog. 

The same goes for a new dog, especially if he’s a rescued one. The puppy might already be nervous about everything he underwent with his previous owner. Now, if you go and stare at him directly, that would make him hostile towards you. 

So, is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes? Yes! If you just got him, and he has never been trained in any particular way to respond positively towards your looks, you should not. 

What Happens If You Stare At A Dog?

A dog could have numerous reactions if you look him straight in the eye. When I stare my dog directly in the eye, he will look back at me with his puppy dog eyes and wave his tail excitedly.

That is how he is trained, and because he knows my body language and moods, he’s not scared when I stare at him out of nowhere. He knows I don’t hurt him. 

So, if your pet behaves the same, then there will be no problem staring at your pet.

But, another group of canines goes berserk when their pet owners stare at them. They might look away in fear, go away and hide somewhere, or in some cases will attack their owners when they stare at them. 

When you know the dog, the answer to “is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes?” depends on the pet’s personality. If the pet has an aggressive or fearful personality, staring at him is definitely not a good thing to do.

But, that being said, I do not mean that you should avoid looking at your poor dog’s face at all costs. 

Looking at your furball’s face and communicating are essential for maintaining a healthy relationship with your dog. But don’t do it up to the point of scaring your dog.

And, it’s better if you do not stare at unknown dogs, too. Who knows how they might react? 

So, we hope you got the answer to your question, “is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes?” Let us know how your pet reacts when you look him in the eyes in the comments.

Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner. See you next time!


  • Dominic Parker

    Dominic P. is a dog behavioral researcher who graduated from the University of Surrey and holds BVMsi (Hons) in Veterinary Medicine and Science. He has been around dogs since childhood and has unconditional love for dogs. It makes him become a researcher instead of practicing as a veterinarian. Dominic enjoys his work and likes to share his findings with dog parents to give them a better understanding of dogs’ behaviors.

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