I consider myself a dog lover, in a big way. Recently, my son asked me something that I have taken for granted. He asked, why does my dog keep staring at me? This simple question made me realize several things. One, I have taken for granted that our German Shepherd loves our family. Two, our dog regards me as his bonded person despite being close to my husband and two kids. Three, our dog does look or stare at me more often than other members of our family.
I had a pretty good answer to the question even before I decided to consult experts about it. I have had five German Shepherds through the years, and I did notice that they tend to stare intently at most people they encounter. At the same time, they would also look at the family member closest in proximity to them.
As pack animals, they will turn to the head of their family and take their cues from him, hence the staring. Animal behaviorists tell owners that their four-legged buddy’s behavior is usually a reflection of the owner’s. Dogs pick up on their family members’ feelings such as anxiety, anger, sadness, fear, and joy.
Trained dogs will constantly stare at their trainer’s face to get directions or orders. Most dogs are highly intelligent and can pick up the slightest changes in the behavior of their trainers. Aside from voice commands, dogs use visual commands from their trainers.
Another answer to the question, why does my dog stare at me? is because he wants something or is anticipating something. Dogs usually operate on learned behavior. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to train dogs. Rewarding them with a toy or food is one of the easiest ways to get their cooperation. When they see you preparing your meal, they will assume that theirs will follow soon and will stare at you anticipating it. I noticed that when our lunch is running late, my dog will start to follow me around and stare at me more intently. She may be wondering what’s holding lunch up or she’s giving hints that it’s time to eat already.
Dogs are famous for head tilts. A dog tilting her head and looking at you is not being cute (that is unintentional!) but is actually asking a question. This kind of stare is one of the cutest things ever in our eyes but for our canine friends, they are a bit confused and want to know something. You may have made a sound that she didn’t quite understand or you are acting out of character for her to look at you inquiringly.
So, why does my dog stare at me? It could be just an outpouring of love. Dogs love their human families unconditionally and will not hesitate to show us. There are times when my dog just looks at me and I can feel loads of love from her. My kids and husband feel the same way when our GSD leans on us and catches our gaze. She is basically showing me through her eyes that she loves me.
Basically, the simplest answer to the question, why does my dog stare at me is because it is a way to communicate with me. The communication might seem one-sided since sometimes I am not aware of her stare, but in reality, she reads my actions and reacts to them accordingly. So it’s not really as one-sided as I assume it to be because she read something from my action or inaction. It’s sort of reminds me that I have to be responsible for my actions because someone is watching me and reacting to them.
Dogs base most of their reactions on learned behavior. This is one reason why we have to be responsible for training them and raising them. This is especially true for dogs that associate with other animals and people. Socialization plays a huge role in how dogs respond to stimuli. As owners, we should make sure that our four-legged family members are safe and can function well in society. Aside from socialization, we should also be aware that our dogs get cues from us and are very good at reading out movements and facial nuances.