Is It Safe To Look Your Dog In The Eyes?

Due to the fact there are so many conflicting reports online when it comes to looking your dog in the eyes, it can be difficult to know whether it is safe or not to do so. 

Some experts say that it can help to deepen the bond between you and your pet pooch, while others believe that it will agitate the dog. However, looking a dog in the eyes is only a natural thing to do – we do it to everyone!

While it is generally safe to look your dog in the eyes, there is a difference when it comes to how you look your dog in the eyes. For example, one is staring and the other is just normal eye contact. 

While you will give your dog eye contact as you talk and play with them, it is important that you do not stare at them. If you want to understand why, read on!

Is It Bad To Look A Dog In The Eyes?

When it comes to staring at a dog in the eyes, it all comes down to circumstance and how you do it. It does not matter if you know the dog, or if you have never seen the dog before, you will want to be cautious when it comes to staring.

However, if it is your own dog, then you might find that he or she is fine with it so long as they are happy and relaxed. Even still, you should always keep eye contact on the shorter side.

If you do not, then there is a good chance that your dog will begin to feel threatened in some way. This can cause them to have a confrontational attitude towards you, which may result in them becoming aggressive.

However, this is more likely to happen to a dog you do not know. Even so, that does not mean that your own dog will not show these behaviors, so keep eye contact to a minimum. This means around a second or two. 

Do Some Dogs Shy Away From Staring?

While some dogs may show aggression if stared at, they may also show some other kinds of behavior that may be done to disengage the person from staring at them – after all, sometimes we do not even realize we are staring!

Some of these behaviors include holding up a paw in your direction, taking their eyes off you and looking elsewhere, yawning and appearing bored or tired, slowly moving away, or even shaking their coat as if they have water on the fur.

If you do see any of these behaviors happening because you have spent too much time staring at your dog, then turn to the side and look in a different direction away from your dog.

A dog may feel intimidated by somebody who stares, and they might feel like you are an unpredictable human who is actually quite scary.

Obviously we know that this is not true, but your dog does not. So, making sure you do not stare at your dog is the best way to show him or her that you are not a threat. 

Does Staring At A Dog Show You Are Dominant?

Does Staring At A Dog Show You Are Dominant

You may have heard that staring at a dog will show him or her who is boss, but it is not true. While once it was widely believed that staring at your dog will provide your dog with the ability to follow rules, it has actually been debunked.

In fact, your dog is likely to feel intimidated, or just that you are being rather rude – just like when you stare at another human. Some might even become aggressive (see also ‘Put An End To Dog Fence Fighting Aggression‘), and that is the last thing you will want.

Even though a dog probably will not engage with your staring and is likely to try and remove themselves from the situation, you can never be too sure. That is because there will be a dog who will react, so always be careful. 

Should You Avoid Making Eye Contact With a Dog Altogether?

Eye contact is used to train a dog, and for general bonding, however, let’s be clear: it is eye contact and not staring at them for ages in the eyes.

So no, you should not avoid eye contact altogether because your dog will find it reassuring, just make sure you are not weirding them out by looking into their eyes for too long.

Final Thoughts

It can be confusing when it comes to knowing the difference between staring at a dog and making general eye contact. This can make many people unsure whether it is safe to look a dog in the eyes due to fear of little Fido becoming aggressive.

However, so long as you are not staring at them, you will have a happy and healthy relationship with your dog.


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