Why Does My Dog Stare Into My Eyes? Reasons Explained

Why Does My Dog Stare Into My Eyes? Reasons Explained

Imagine a situation where you walk down a street alone and come across a dog staring right into your eyes. How would you feel? Mostly you will feel scared and anxious.

If you encounter a situation as above with a strange dog, it is normal to feel afraid because we usually think that dogs stare when they feel suspicious or attempt to attack.

What if you face a similar incident with your pet dog? Does that indicate aggressive behavior if your pet dog keeps staring at you? Or is it because of some other reason that they stare? So how should you react in a moment like that? If you have faced this situation with your dog and want to find the reason for it and how to respond, this article will provide you with answers.

So, why does my dog stare into my eyes? Pet dogs stare into their owner’s eyes for several reasons. Usually as a gesture of seeking affection and attention. Dogs use their body language to communicate with humans, and their eyes tell a lot. Dogs have strong feelings for their owners; sometimes, they express it by gazing into their eyes. They also stare when they need something. Assume you eat something delicious when your dog is around, then they probably stare into your eyes, asking for a bit.

However, sometimes when your dog keeps staring at you, you are unsure why it will make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe they stare to indicate something positive, if not negative. 

Not all dog owners have professional experience raising dogs. It is pretty normal that the actions of dogs sometimes confuse us. Nevertheless, no one knows your dog better than you.

If you are observant enough of their behavior, you can understand whether they gaze into your eyes, expressing their love or if something unusual. To find more details feel free to read the subsections below. 

Why does my dog stare into my eyes?

As mentioned earlier, a dog could stare into its owner’s eyes for several reasons. Overall it is a gesture that dogs use to communicate with their families. Still, what they try to indicate through it might not always be the same. 

Dogs adore their humans and will never miss a chance to show it. Dogs sometimes can be very obsessive about their owners and stare into your eyes just because they love you.

However, this is not the only reason they gaze into your eyes. Dogs use staring as a way of manipulating their owners. If your dog wants to go on a stroll or wants a bite from what you eat, they will likely stare into you, trying to get what they want.

However, keep in your mind that dogs use eye contact not only to communicate positively. Sometimes what they want to tell you is something negative. If your dog is sick or feels uncomfortable, they might stare as they need you to comfort them.

There are also possibilities that they stare when they are aggressive. Suppose you accidentally yelled at the dog for something wrong they did; if that makes your dog scared or anxious, they might stare into your eyes. 

What does it mean when your dog holds eye contact?

As already mentioned, we cannot precisely say why dogs would stare into our eyes and what they mean through it if they keep holding eye contact.

However, there are some possibilities that we can focus on; in other words, some of the common reasons why dogs keep eye contact. 

  • Attempting to understand the owners

We often like to have conversations with our canines; although they cannot speak, we believe they understand us. Do they really understand what we attempt to tell them? Dogs do not have developed mentalities like humans; nonetheless, dogs are good at connecting with humans.

How they acknowledge humans are mainly by observing their body language. We love spending time with our pet dogs, but there are days when we feel exhausted, tired, and off the mood for different reasons.

Dogs have brilliant skills in grasping body language; if they want to understand whether their master is in a good mood or not, they will glaze into your eyes and hold eye contact for a while. They will figure out how you feel to a reasonable extent. 

  • Asking for guidance from owners

Proper and consistent training makes dogs obedient animals. Indeed, dogs can sometimes be troublemakers; however, they respect their owners.

If you give some command to your dog, and if they feel unsure about it, they’ll keep staring at you for some time because they want to pick up clues by observing your body language and getting directions on what has to be done. 

  • Expressing love to the owners 

As discussed in the previous section staring and holding eye contact is a typical way for dogs to express their emotions.

We say dogs are man’s best friend for a reason; they have an exceptional bond. If you came home after a long day, no one would be happier to see you than your dog.

Dogs always get excited to see their masters. On top of it, they prefer to express it through gestures. Holding eye contact is one of the ways that they show their love and gratitude to you. 

  • Indicating aggressive behavior

Even your pet dog can sometimes get aggressive. If your dog faces a vulnerable situation, making them angry, anxious, and scared, they will hold eye contact.

Unlike the eye contact they maintain when expressing love, their eye contact in aggression tends to be different.

Following the staring, if you notice lowered head, sturdy body, pointed ears, and straight tail, they can be indicators of aggressiveness. 

  • Aging and sicknesses 

If your dog is experiencing a sickness, the discomfort it causes makes them stare at you. They’ll keep eye contact, thinking you will notice and give them the needed help to overcome the pain.

On the other hand, aging could also make dogs hold a lot of eye contact with you. Sometimes the constant staring can be random; if not, it can be due to mental conditions such as canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Statistics show that this condition is 22.5% common in dogs older than nine and about 68% of dogs above fifteen years.

Should I stare into my dog’s eyes?

If you read up to this point now, you might understand why your pet dog tends to stare into your eyes and hold eye contact with you. Now we are coming to the most crucial part. How should you respond to this behavior of your dog?

Staring at your dog doesn’t sound like a smart thing to do. Does it? When your dog keeps staring, should you reciprocate or ignore it? This has two sides.

If your dog stares into your eyes to express love and if you also gaze at them, it will increase the bond between you and the pet.

But if your dog stares at you because they are anxious or scared, you doing the same will make them feel more anxious and threatened. So you need to understand why your dog stares into your eyes in the first place.

Although you can’t precisely say why your dog stare at you if you are attentive enough, you will understand if the dog tries to communicate something positive or negative. It is essential to respond according to the situation. 

In some contexts keeping eye contact with a dog can be very beneficial for you and the dog to maintain a strong bond.

So it is good to maintain eye contact, especially when you cuddle or pet them. If your dog seems to be somewhat aggressive or submissive, avoid keeping direct eye contact because it might worsen the situation.

Along with eye contact, observing other body language of the dog will help you understand the situation better. Remember, Intense staring would not be suitable in any case.

Final Thoughts 

Dogs use their body language to communicate and express their feelings. Sometimes you might understand what your dog is trying to tell by observing their body language, especially by looking into their eyes, but it could also confuse you.

You might have noticed that sometimes your pet dogs try to hold eye contact with you, which could be a way of expressing their love for you. If the staring seems polite, you can reciprocate it, so the dog feels you also love them.

However, as discussed, sometimes their staring indicates something negative. For instance, that they are sick, uncomfortable, or anxious.

So the bottom line is you should be smart enough to tackle the situation. You should not completely avoid eye contact with the dog because they will feel you are ignoring them.

On the other hand, you also should not stare intensely as it might make the dog feel suspicious or scared. So do not misinterpret holding eye contact with intense staring.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about your favorite dog breed.


  • Sofia Williams

    Sofia W. is a professional dog trainer who completed Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA and CPDT-KSA) certifications. Also, she has completed the Pet Nutrition Coach Certification. Sofia is interested in creating nutritious food formulas for dogs to give them a longer and healthier life. She believes food and training are a collective combination of a healthy dog. So, she is with us to share her expertise and knowledge with other dog parents.

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