“Whatcha lookin’ at?!” Why Do Dogs Stare At Us?

Scene: you’ve already fed your pooch, he’s walked so long you both got exhausted, and now as you finally sit down for some time to yourself, perhaps to check your emails – he’s sitting in front of you staring at you…

What’s the deal?! There are a lot of different things a dog might be trying to communicate to you with their stare, and we’re going to break ’em down for you right now.

Let’s start with the most obvious reason – your furry friend wants something from you. Maybe he really needs to go outside, maybe he’s dying of starvation because you’re a few minutes late feeding him dinner, or maybe he just lost his ball under the couch and you’re the only one who can save it. Dogs can’t talk to us to tell us what they want, but many dogs have wonderfully expressive eyes and use them to try and communicate with us. So the most basic answer is that your dog could be staring at you because he needs you to help him with something, or he wants you to do something.

Let’s say they’ve got everything they need…now what?

When you catch your dog staring at you, oftentimes they are monitoring your behaviour to find out what’s going on and how it will impact them. Dogs are much better at reading our body language than we are at reading theirs. Their sense of smell and hearing are more honed than ours, and it also benefits them as a species to be super observant. They can figure out when you’re about to leave for work—you may get your coat, pick up your keys or pick up a purse. They know when you pull out a suitcase you may be leaving them behind.  You’re calling the shots! So your dog is quite invested in figuring out what you’re up to, as it directly affects their life.


Sometimes though, the reasoning is sweet and pure as dogs themselves- it’s because they love you! Just as you gaze lovingly into your partner’s eyes, dogs look into our eyes to indicate they’re fond of us. Researchers have shown the eye connection between dogs and humans increases the levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin, aka the “cuddle chemical,” is a hormone mammals produce in the brain that encourages bonding between mothers and their offspring. It’s also involved in partner and social bonding.

So next time you catch your dog staring, maybe it isn’t a treat they want, but something else – take a moment to connect and consider 🙂


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