Cats and Dogs
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Do dogs care about looks?

Why Does My Dog Stare at Me?

Gemma and Max

Black, white and brown dog sitting on the floor looking up.

Has your dog been keeping an eye on you? If you’re wondering “why does my dog stare at me”, you’re not alone. Dogs stare at us quite a lot, prompting many owners to try and decipher what the mysterious gaze could be about. While we might not be able to know what exactly is going through a dog’s mind, there are a few cues that can help us solve the riddle of their intense stare.

From the loving gaze to the icy glare, dogs use eye contact as a form of communication. So, if you have unexpectedly met your pet’s intense gaze from across the room and you’re looking for explanations, here are a few possible reasons why dogs keep staring at us.

1. They love us

Just as we humans gaze into the eyes of people we adore, dogs have “borrowed” the same sign of affection to communicate with their owners. New research shows that mutual gazing between us and our pets releases the same hormonal response present during mother and infant bonding between humans. If you discover your dog looking at you with longing eyes and no apparent reason, it just might be a sign that they love you. However, don’t be tempted to force your dog into a loving stare by holding their head. Dogs might interpret it as a threat and react accordingly.

2. They’re reading our body language

small dog looking up at the camera

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Since we don’t share the same language, dogs and humans have learned to look out for nonverbal cues to figure out each other’s intentions. It’s not just us trying to understand our dog’s body language.

Dogs also keep an eye out trying to piece together information about what we’re doing or what’s about to happen. This is why owners will often notice their dogs staring at them as they open the cupboard, or put their shoes on. Dogs look at us expecting the next step: getting a treat or going outside.

3. They’re confused

A soft stare, tilted head and pricked ears – dogs have the cutest way of letting us know they’re not sure what’s going on and waiting for clarifications. Oftentimes the answer to the question “why does my dog stare at me” is that they’re feeling confused. If you’ve just given them a command only to be met with a gooey-eyed answer, it’s probably best to revisit a few dog training tips to ensure your pup knows what’s expected of them.

4. They want something

Oftentimes dog owners feel compelled to act when dogs won’t give up looking so intently at them. The reason why dogs stare at us when they want something is because we’ve unintentionally taught them this behaviour. Whether it’s reaching for the treats, taking them for a walk or offering them a cuddle, dogs will quickly learn there is a ‘cause and effect’ rule involving their ability to keep eye contact with their owner. If you reward them with treats and attention every time they sit and stare at you, they’ll keep doing it to get what they’re after.

5. They’re begging for food

Dogs will often want to share food with their owners. Whether you’re sitting at the table having dinner or snacking in front of the TV, if you feel your canine companion staring you down, it’s probably because they want a bite of what you’re having. Be careful in giving up and feeding your dog in those moments as it may turn into a habit that’s difficult to break.

6. They want attention

Sometimes dogs start staring at their owners as a way to get noticed. Dogs are not shy to throw intense stares our way if they feel a bit ignored.

Dog care in summer

Here are some steps you can take to ensure your dog stays cool during the summer months.

  • Never leave dogs in hot cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day (even if only for a short while). When it’s 22°C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F) in these environments, which can be fatal.
  • Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pet’s skin, such as the tips of their ears and nose, to avoid sunburn. This is especially important if your dog has white or light-coloured fur, as they can be very vulnerable to getting burnt. If you’re unsure which is the right product to use, please ask your vet.
  • Ensure pets always have access to shade and fresh drinking water to help keep them cool.
  • Check every day for flystrike — this can be fatal.
  • Put ice cubes into your dog’s water bowl or make some tasty ice cube treats. You could also freeze a kong with treats and water!
  • Give your pet damp towels to lie on (never place a damp towel over your dog as this can trap in heat) or an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Both simple methods could provide welcome relief from the heat
  • If you’re planning a day out with your dog, check before leaving home whether dogs are allowed. If they’re not, arrange a pet-sitter or choose another, dog-friendly attraction.
  • Groom them regularly — regular grooming in warmer weather can help brush away any dead or excess hair, leaving your dog with a less dense coat — much better for staying cool!
  • Dogs may also appreciate a paddling pool to splash around in, although not all dogs like water, so there’s no need to force them if they don’t want to!

Take a look at one of the dogs in our care enjoying a dip in the water.

Walking your dog in hot weather

Dogs need exercise, even when it’s hot. We recommend walking your dog in the morning or evening when it’s cooler to reduce the risk of heatstroke and burning their paws on the pavement.

Do you know the signs of heatstroke and what to do if you spot them?

Signs of burned pads

Try the 5-second test — if it’s too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for paws!

You can also look out for:

  • Limping or refusing to walk
  • Licking or chewing at the feet
  • Pads darker in colour
  • Missing part of pad
  • Blisters or redness

Signs of heatstroke

  • Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
  • Excessively drooling
  • The dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
  • Collapsed or vomiting

If you suspect your dog has the signs of heat stroke you must act quickly.

We’ve worked with The Outdoor Guide to give you tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy in the hot weather.

We’ve also teamed up to offer our favourite dog-friendly walks throughout the summer.

Find out more about caring for dogs.

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