Facial expressions and body language can speak a lot; if someone is giving you a steady intent look, you might get irritated or confused for a moment. Funnily enough, your canine can provoke the same reaction from you and a common scenario involves head lowering and with a steady gaze at you.
Dogs lower their head and stare at you as a way to express fear or show that they need something you can offer like food, toy or your attention. This body language can also be a sign of aggression and dominance or just a warmly display of love.
In some cases, your pooch may stare out because they are confused, in pain or wants to go potty. However, it could all mean that your pooch is simply observing your actions.
Why Does My Dog Lower His Head And Stare?
It’s easy to understand a bouncy and licking dog with a tail wag, but if your pet is shrinking its body, lowering its head, and started staring at you, then there must be something in its mind to convey and there can be several reasons behind this communication behavior, which are discussed below.
1. Expression Of Fear
As dogs love to play and enjoy creating mess around, which is not tolerated by their owners, after doing something wrong, if you find your canine standing in front of you with a lower head and continuously staring at you with big bulging eyes, then it can be a sign that your dog is fearful of your reaction to their wrongdoing. This is termed an apologetic bow because it is a way your dog says sorry for his mischief.
According to vets, dogs cannot feel this emotion called guilty or shame but since they have been living with humans for so many years, so they have learned this behavior, they know when their owner will be getting angry with them and consequently, put on a look that may be interpreted as guilt or shame.
2. He Wants Something From You
If your pooch is maintaining eye contact with you for a long time, don’t ignore it!! This prolonged gaze is meaningful; for sure they want something from you. They want you to move outdoors for a walk, toss a ball, or frisbee to play; maybe they want you to cuddle or gently rub their forehead, your canine might be hungry and asking for its favorite snack by looking towards you.
When we train a dog, upon doing a good job, we use to offer so many yummy treats as a reward to our fur member, so some dogs become habitual of it, after doing any specific task, they stand in front of you with a perfect regular gaze, demanding for its treat.
3. Display Of Dominance
Dog’s eye contact is not limited to positive reasons only; sometimes the reason can be dominance by showing aggression. As wolf ancestral, staring can be cruel or threatening as well.
If you are sitting in a park and a wild dog is giving you a hard gaze without blinking its eyes, lowering his head with a stiff body, stagnant tail, and lifted lips then it can be a sign of attack, aggression, and dominance, step back and don’t make eye contact to such dogs. Dominant aggressive dogs can not only attack you but they are harmful to your children as well.
Some family dogs also become violent, when they feel uncomfortable, threatened, confused or they are trying to secure a bone. They may try to bite you, your children, or guests. So, guide your kids and guests about your canine’s behaviors and body language.
4. Attention-Seeking Behavior
When you are going through a hectic weekend and don’t find enough time to play or cuddle with your pooch, your dog may feel ignored from your side, he doesn’t hesitate by lowering his head to the ground and giving you a depressed gaze; most probably he wants you to pay heed towards him. Your attention and praise are an honor for them.
The most common reason behind this attention-seeking behavior of pooches is they may be feeling bored at home alone due to insufficient playtime or exercise, which is ultimately important for mental stimulation. So as a pet owner, you should spend some quality time with your fur member to deal with their specific behavior.
5. He Is Trying To Understand Your Body Language
As pet parents, we think that we are observing every action of our pet but in fact, our dogs are keenly focused on us too. Our dog is staring at us because they want to understand our body language. By having an eye on us they can prepare themselves for activities in advance.
Suppose!! You are holding your pet’s favorite toy ball before leaving the house; your dog will immediately put his chin down with a naughty stare at you, getting excited, and by showing this behavior, your pooch is asking you to take him along for outdoor games and fun and they will keep on waiting for your next gesture.
Similarly!! They bow their head by understanding your body language at dinner time, holding leash means you are going out for a walk and they are watching the signals for heading into the car for a picnic, etc.
6. He Is Showing Affection
If your pooch is continuously looking at you with innocent eyes and put his head down to the earth for no reason, then this is the symbol that he is in love with you. He might be communicating his utmost attachment and intimacy towards you by showing this special behavior.
According to recent research, a continuous mutual gaze between owners and their pets releases a hormone (oxytocin also called “love hormone”) to boost the feelings of affection and trust for each other. The vet says that this hormone is similar when a mother looks towards her toddler with a strong bonding of love.
7. Confusion Or Disorientation
Moving your head down with still eyeballs is not always the signal of anger or love from your pooch, but there is the chance your canine is suffering from extreme mental confusion or has lost his senses, so in response, he used to bow his head down.
Most of the dogs get upset and lower their head during their training sessions if they can’t listen or see properly or their trainer is not sending clear directions to them.
We as the owner are also responsible for making our canines confused, even at home, and as a reaction, they are surprisingly staring at us i.e. by choosing the wrong name for them, for not setting consistent rules for home and our pet, by giving more attention to another pet, by scolding our pet for no reasons or by forcing our shy dog to interact with another dog, etc.
8. Pain or Discomfort
If you notice your pooch is used to lowering its head downwards for the last few days without any obvious reason, then there are chances that he/ she is going through neck pain.
Normally, the symptoms of neck pain are not very clear; and your poor pooch cannot communicate to you verbally, that he is suffering from scruff pain, until he lowers its neck down again and again and watches you with a growling sound, by showing this gesture they want you to notice their problem.
Sometimes, your pooch may lock its eyes with you during potty time. Yes!! As a new pet owner, you might be thinking your pooch needs some privacy during its bathroom break but it’s the opposite, your dog wants you to stay with them because they feel unsafe during potty.
Instinctively, during the pooping position, they may feel vulnerable and bow down with an eye on you, as they want you to protect them by standing with them as their support.
How To Stop Your Dog From Staring At You Excessively?
Sometimes if your pooch is sitting next to you and staring at you without a single blink then it can be irritating for owners and embarrassing in front of guests as well. Most pet parents strongly dislike this scary behavior of their canines and they want their fur members to stop staring at them.
As a pet parent, you should simply understand what they want at a particular moment i.e they want food, play or poop time or simply they want you to go out the door for a walk, so you can train them how to properly ask for their desires via pawing you or using dog bell rather than staring. On the other hand, if you give up their habit of receiving treats and ignore their stare, this can help you a lot as well.
In more detail, here are a few things you can try to address this behavior:
Provide plenty of exercises and mental stimulation: Dogs that have enough physical and mental stimulation are less likely to become bored and engage in unwanted behaviors.
Teach your dog a “look away” command: Train your dog to look away from you on command by saying “look away” and offering a treat when they do so.
Ignore the staring: If your dog is staring at you for attention, try ignoring them until they look away. This will help them understand that staring does not get them what they want.
Provide positive reinforcement for alternative behaviors: Reward your dog with treats and praise when they engage in other behaviors such as lying down or playing with a toy.
Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist: If the problem persists, it’s always good to consult with an expert who can help you understand the root cause of your dog’s behavior and provide you with a customized training plan.
It’s also important to keep in mind that all dogs have their personalities and some might be more prone to stare than others. Be patient and consistent with your training and you’ll see positive change over time.
How To Tell Why Your Dog Is Staring
In most cases, staring is a helpful way of communication for owners, via this gaze they can get to know the basic demands of their pooch.
If you notice your pooch’s all activities keenly, then it became quite easy for you to understand what your dog exactly wants at a specific time. i.e he wants attention, he wants to play, he is hungry, or wants to go to poop.
In a nutshell, it becomes easy for you to train your dog and it saves time a lot.
Why does my dog lower his head to me when I pet him?
Patting dogs on the head is a causal loveable gesture when some stranger meets them and we think the dog is enjoying this tap, but the truth is that your dog may dislike this action, a hand moving towards them might be scary for them because they are unaware of your intentions as a stranger, so they lower their heads down.
Other reasons they lower their head upon patting are a lack of confidence and poor socialization. Owners should interact with their pets other people and dogs, so it will help your pet to remove their fears and boost their confidence. As a pet owner, you should also train and encourage your pooch that patting is a good gesture.
Some confident dogs don’t hesitate upon patting their head, but this is alarming if they are avoiding a hand coming towards them, there may be chances that they are feeling pain in their neck or suffering from an ear infection which is why they are avoiding you by lowering their heads down.
Our fur members keep on showing different behaviors with time, but the lowering of the head does not always mean that your pooch is demanding you something. Sometimes when a dog hangs his head down he may be feeling extremely unwell or facing certain sorts of injuries and disorders.
But your canine might be facing compression of the spinal cord called atlantoaxial luxation or they may be the victim of parasitic infections that can lead to brain inflammation called meningitis.
If your dog is suddenly hanging his head down, then he might be experiencing pain in its stomach. Some old-aged dogs are predisposed to osteoarthritis with symptoms of hanged heads. Otherwise, cancer, soft tissue injuries, cognitive dysfunction, cervical IVVD, spondylosis deformans, etc are the other severe reasons making your pooch hang his head down.
Is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes?
Yes, it is bad to stare back at a dog, especially if you are a stranger to him. The dog can take this eye contact as a threat or challenge for him or he might be feeling unsafe from your side. In such cases, he might react vigorously by barking or biting on you to end this uncomfortable and prolonged interaction of gaze.
If you don’t own a dog avoid making hard and continuous eye contact with him, just simply walk away and ignore him.
It’s funny to know that your dog is staring at you all the time, no matter what are you doing. Watching a TV show, brushing your teeth, or eating a yummy meal. As a pet owner, you should know what can be the reasons behind a regular gaze.
Your dog lowers his head with averted eyes he might be asking for his meal or he is ashamed of his mistakes, might be he showing his dominant aggressive behavior for you, he might be learning your body gestures or he is showing his love through this eyes lock for you and he wants your attention. Lastly, he might be confused, ill, or want to go for potty time.
Sometimes this regular gaze is quite helpful for owners to understand their pet behaviors and what they exactly need at a particular time.