The TV is on to one of your favorite shows. Supper is finished, and the kitchen is cleaned up. Your faithful dog is at your feet. All is well.
But an eerie feeling starts creeping in on you. You know you're alone in the room, but you can't get over that sensation that you're being watched. You cautiously glance around the room and suddenly realize your dog is staring at you.
It's like his eyes are boring holes into you. Why does he do that?
Why does your dog stare at you like that? As with so many things dogs do, there could be a variety of reasons.
He wants something.
Your dog may be staring at you because he wants something. It may be his way of saying, "Feed me. I'm hungry." If you're munching while you watch TV, he may be begging for just one teeny-tiny morsel of that delicious smelling treat.
He may give you clues when you look at him. Does he head for the door to be let out? Does he look at your shoes or at his leash or something else to indicate he wants to go for a walk? Does he head for his water dish to show you it's empty?
He may want something without giving you an outward sign. That can be a little harder to figure out. He may just want some attention, and an ear rub or back scratch may be enough for him to lay his head down and rest while you enjoy your show.
If you are totally at a loss for what he wants, you can try asking him if he wants something or other. But you run the risk of him responding positively to the thought of a walk or a treat, even when that wasn't what he had on his mind in the first place.
He's watching for clues from you.
Dogs love, love, love to please their humans. Sometimes your dog will stare at you just to make sure he doesn't miss anything. He may just be watching intently to make sure you're not giving him a non-verbal clue that you want him to do something for you.
He adores you.
Dogs that have a comfortable, secure environment with regular food in their bowls, water when they want it, and that know they're loved, adore their people. This can be especially true of shelter pets or strays that didn't always have a loving home. They know you are their savior and provider and they are just overcome with love.
He feels threatened.
In the dog world, one dog staring at another is a sign of aggression. This is particularly true if the dog's total body language is aggressive: ears out or back, body stiff, tail raised, teeth showing.
If you are trying to take food or a toy away from a dog and he stares at you, especially if his body language is aggressive, stop. Instead, try to interest him in food or a toy that he may have. Wait until he has released the restricted item for the acceptable one, then put the contraband out of his reach.
You should never stare at a dog you don't know or don't know well. The dog may take this as aggressive behavior. The consequences of that could be dire.
But when your own dog stares at you, give him a little attention, fulfill his need if appropriate, and just bask in the knowledge that you are adored.
Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.