Estimated Read Time: 5 minutes
Summary: “Why Do Dogs Stare At You?” In this blog, we learn why dogs stare at you! We’ll learn what they hope to achieve by staring at you, why they might be staring at the wall or why they might stare at nothing…
Have you ever spotted your dog staring off into space, directly at the wall, ceiling or even at you? Here are the potential reasons your dog is staring…
They love you; A lot of the time, dogs will stare at you because they love you. Staring can literally be an expression of affection! It can also help release “the love hormone” oxytocin which enhances feelings of trust for your dog. Read our blog on why staring back into your dog’s eyes can be an amazing way of bonding with them.
They want something; if you’re eating a snack or some dinner, it’s very likely your pup is staring because he wants a piece of it too (not that you should give in! Some human foods can be bad for dogs)! Staring at you may be a way of them asking for a bathroom break outside or they may want to go for a walk.
They are trying to work out what’s going on; they may be a little confused as to what’s about happen, and as their master, you’re the decision-maker! They may just be staring to try and work out any clues you’re giving off: Is it time for “walkies”? It is time to be fed? Are they going to try and give me a bath? Anything!
They’re about to become aggressive; staring can sometimes be a threat. If they’re not blinking, their stance is stiff and they’re walking backwards slowly they may be getting ready to defend themselves - this can sometimes happen if there’s food to be fought over. If this behaviour happens often and is a cause for concern in your home, contact a local, ethical dog trainer who can help you safely and kindly eek this behaviour out.
There’s something in the wall; a dog’s hearing is exemplary. They may be hearing a mouse in the wall, bees, termites or another infestation of sorts. If their head is tilting whilst they stare, it’s probably because they’re listening. Try listening with them to see if you can hear anything too and contact an exterminator accordingly.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD); as dogs get older they can sometimes develop “doggy dementia”, although dogs don’t experience dementia in the same way we understand it in humans. It is more common in senior dogs, but if they’re staring at walls, getting stuck in corners, walking aimlessly and/or seem disorientated this may be something to look into. Read our blog on CCD In Dogs here.
They’re having a seizure; seizures don’t have to be dramatic, shaking, scary affairs. A focal seizure or a partial seizure may just involve the brain checking out and cause your dog to stare off into space or at a wall. If this happens frequently, get your dog checked over by a vet as the underlying cause could be something like epilepsy or even cancer.
Seizures or CCD; as above, doggies staring at nothing could also be experiencing CCD or they maybe having a small partial/focal seizure.
They’re in pain or are anxious; if your dog has a glazed-over look in their eyes this could indicate that your dog is experiencing some form of pain - they’re excellent at masking physical aches and discomfort so they could be feeling a little under the weather.
They’re anxious; if they’re staring out of the door or into a room where a loved one usually is or resides, they may be experiencing separation anxiety and wanting to be back in the company of their loved one.
Their eyesight is deteriorating; much like humans, as dogs get older their eyesight deteriorates so they may be staring off into space because their eyes are having a little trouble focusing. Read our blog on what to do if your dog is experiencing sight or hearing loss.
They have an infection; a disorientated dog may have an infection or be unwell with something like a UTI (urinary tract infection). Infections may be accompanied by other symptoms like darting eyes, difficulty standing or tilting their head.
They’re attention-seeking; sometimes your dog may be gazing into thin air in the hope that you’ll notice them and then make a fuss of them out of concern. And hey, if you’ve searched “why is my dog staring at nothing?” it worked!
In most situations, your dog is staring as a way of communicating with you or in anticipation of you communicating with them. However, if they’re staring at the wall or at nothing frequently, and you’re noticing other behavioural changes, it’s probably worth having them checked out by their vet. You can also consider videoing the episodes when they happen, making a note of how long they last and the date and time, so your vet can see what’s happening at home, no matter how minor it may seem to you.