Why Does My Dog Stare at Me: 8 Possible Reasons

A pug dog stares intently.

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From irresistible puppy eyes to an uninterrupted icy glare, every dog owner is familiar with the feeling of being watched.

While your dog observes closely as you are cooking dinner, tossing laundry in the washing machine, or even hoping for some alone-time in the bathroom, you can’t help but wonder: “Why does my dog stare at me?”

Even if this may seem confusing to you, your dog probably has a good reason — or two — to be watching your every move.

8 Reasons Why Your Dog is Staring at You

Many times, a stare is a normal dog behaviour used to communicate a certain emotion, need, or want.

So, if you notice your furry friend staring at you, it can be likely explained by one of the following reasons:

1. They Love You

We know well that making direct eye contact is an effective way to communicate affection among humans.

Whether it is between a mother and her baby, two romantic partners, or simply between two good friends, mutual eye contact works wonders to strengthen that special bond.

Similarly, your dog may be using his stare to demonstrate affection and unconditional love.

The affectionate dog stare can be characterized by a soft expression of the face and slightly squinted eyes — so, if you notice it, know: your pup is saying, “I love you!”

An Australian Shepherd dog close up with a soft facial expression.

2. They Want Something

    • Food: Do you ever have dinner and notice your dog staring at you expectantly? Your dog is probably just waiting for you to share the treats with them or accidentally drop a delicious morsel on the floor. It smells good, and dogs love food just like the rest of us.

This type of staring dog behaviour is often learned: if you share food with your dog when you eat, they may be anticipating the same reward during each of your meals.

    • Play: In addition to asking for food, your dog may be staring at you because they want to play with you.
    • Stuck or Lost Toy: One of your dog’s favourite toys may have gotten stuck somewhere. Your dog may need your help to get the stuck or lost toy out for them.
    • Bathroom: Finally, if your pup needs to relieve themself, they may be giving you a stare to ask you to take them outside.

3. They Are Confused

A well-trained dog will stare at you to ask for a cue or directions.

For example, if you are going for a walk and approach the road, your companion may look at you to decide whether they should sit or continue walking.

This soft stare with perked-up ears and a head tilt is your dog’s cutest way of letting you know that they aren’t sure what to do next.

A White Swiss Shepherd Dog is staring with their head tilted in curiosity..
A White Swiss Shepherd Dog is staring with their head tilted in curiosity..

4. They Are Reading Your Facial Expressions

Dogs can read and interpret human facial expressions and body language exceptionally well.

As such, your dog might be starting at you to read your expression and decide what they should do next.

For example, if you look worried, your furry friend may realize this, and decide to cuddle up in an attempt to comfort you.

In addition, dogs like to keep an eye out on their surroundings, trying to gather information on what’s about to happen.

This is why you may notice your pup staring at you as you put shoes on or open a cupboard. They are simply waiting for the next step: going outside or getting their favourite treat.

5. They Need Protection

When a dog defecates, they might stare closely at their pet parent.

If you are wondering why your dog is staring at you when he poops, the reason is simple: he is seeking protection.

When a dog is in a position to relieve themself, they are relatively defenseless.

Your dog trusts you, so they may stare at you during this process for reassurance that you will keep them safe while they are vulnerable.

A small dog may stare at you for protection while pooping.
A small dog may stare at you for protection while pooping.

6. They Want Attention

Even if you are showering your pet with love and affection every day, they might still need some extra attention if they are not getting exercised enough or they feel bored.

Dogs get lonely just like people, and they need to get physical and mental stimulation every day.

As such, your dog will stare at you as a way to get noticed. Don’t be surprised at this intense stare if your pup feels a bit ignored or overlooked.

If you think your dog is bored, teach them a new skill, trick, or game. Also try giving them a food-stuffed Kong toy, a slow-feeding bowl, or a puzzle toy (supervision sometimes required).

Kong Toy
Slow-feeding Bowl
Puzzle Toy

7. They Are Displaying Aggression

Your dog’s staring behaviour may signal a problem if they are displaying signs of aggression at the same time.

For example, if your pup feels possessive of an object like a food bowl or his toy, they will give you a hard stare accompanied by a low growl to make you back off.

If you notice this type of stare, slowly back away and do not continue looking at the dog. 

An aggressive stare can signal a behavioural problem, which requires a consultation with a veterinarian. Contact your vet immediately.

8. They Are Suffering from Cognitive Dysfunction

If an older dog is staring continuously at you for none of the above reasons, this behaviour could indicate a condition known as the Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

Forgetting simple commands, wandering around aimlessly, and looking disoriented in usual settings are other symptoms that your dog might be suffering from this age-related cognitive decline.

If you notice any of these unusual signs along with your dog’s staring habit, make sure to check in with your vet to stay on the safe side.

Why Does My Dog Stare at Me When I Feed Them?

What Should I Do If My Dog Stares at Me?

Now that you know why your dog may be staring at you,  you can respond appropriately to keep your furry friend happy and satisfied.

1. Figure out what type of stare it is.

Before you can determine what to do about your dog’s stare, you need to figure out why your dog is staring in the first place.

For example, if it’s an aggressive stare, you would want to back off right away.

A large white Husky dog staring intently.

Otherwise, think about whether your pup needs to go outside. Or, maybe, they are hungry. It could also be that they simply look at you because they love you!

2. Make sure all their needs are met.

If you suspect that your pup is staring because they want something, then you need to make sure that all their needs are met.

Is it time for dinner? Were they playing with a toy that got lost? Have they been outside to relieve themself?

If your dog stares in a non-aggressive way, they may be simply asking for something.

3. Provide enough mental stimulation.

If your dog is staring because they are bored and need more attention, then it’s time to add a little extra entertainment to his day.

You can provide additional mental stimulation by teaching your dog a few new tricks or purchasing a food puzzle.

4. Enjoy the love!

Once you’ve made sure your furry friend isn’t staring out of aggression, doesn’t need anything, and has enough mental stimulation, your job is done.

At this point, your pup is likely starting at you out of affection, so enjoy and take in the love.

A Pembroke Welsh Corgi in bed staring lovingly at their human.

How to Benefit from Your Dog’s Staring Behaviour

Believe it or not, both you and your dog can benefit from the prolonged stares.

Most of the time, a dog will stare expressing a combination of attention and affection.

While this may make you uncomfortable at first, your pup is most likely fascinated by you — so make use of this special state and try to connect with your dog.

Your dog wants to know that you love them too.

First of all,

Think about the signals you give your dog to help them understand your intentions better.

For example, are you saying “stay” with words, but doing something completely unrelated with your body language?

Stay clear and consistent with your messaging when talking to your dog.


Remember that a focused dog is easier to train. If your dog gives you a stare, the environmental distractions are less likely to get in the way.

So, to make the training process easier, you can put your dog’s stares on cue with a phrase like “watch me” or “look at me.”

Then, you can use this command to encourage eye contact when you want the dog to pay extra attention to you — rather than your surroundings.


Without a doubt, there are lots of possible reasons why your dog might be staring at you.

If you suspect the stare to be a sign of aggression, be careful and consider consulting a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviouralist.

Otherwise, your dog might be staring because they need or wants something, like food or extra attention.

However, a lot of the time, your dog is staring simply because they love you!

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the unconditional love of your best friend.

A brown Havanese dog staring at their human from over a work computer.