Should You Make Eye Contact With Your Dog?

Should You Make Eye Contact With Your Dog?

Humans naturally make eye contact with other humans to show affiliation, affection and agreement. In dog-human interaction, eye contact is not always so positive. Making eye contact with your dog can cause problems. You may wish to send a positive message but your dog may not "see" it that way. In domesticated dogs, so much of their behavior depends on the dog’s breed, or their personality as well as the relationship they have with you. Most dog behaviorist will tell you that dogs don't like lingering eye contact. In fact, dogs often view direct head on lingering bold stares as a threat. When a dog meets another dog who stares the dog interprets the doggie body language as, "I challenge you to a duel.”
Starring at your dog too long, even if you are looking with love, can be interpreted by the dog as, "I starring a you dog because I am a threat."

Is just looking at your dog a lot OK? It depends on your relationship. Because I read so many photos of dogs with their humans I have noticed that their our some dogs that respond warmly to a look from their pet parent. As a pet parent myself I know that we can a loving look with our special pooches. How your feel when you look is important. When dogs are stressed they look at the pack leader for instructions on how to proceed. If you look at your dog too much when you are uncomfortable or stressed and or you are not feeling "in charge" your dog can interpret your stress cues and think your eye contact indicates a need for assistance, "What should I do next top dog."“I am looking at you because you are the leader and I am your subordinate human." and if you do it frequently your dog can get a big head thinking all your checking in means he is in charge and he can u can do whatever he wants.
Taking the lead and making correct eye contact with your dog is critical when entering and leaving through doors wit your dog. When you are going through a door you should take the lead and look toward the door, not at the dog, so it is clear you are leading the way. If you look at the dog the dog then the door your dog may think he is supposed to take the lead.

In dog a world, followers watch and make eye contact.

Remember a dog can interpret your eye contact with them as a sign of submission. “Oh, my human is looking at me." "My human needs my help, so I must be the alpha dog around here.” Some animal behaviorist think giving your dog too much eye contact can make your dog loose respect for you and the dog may “act out” like a teenager who disrespects their parents or substitute teacher. You may be familiar with dog TV shows like “It’s Me or the Dog.” In that show, dogs are often holding their families hostage to their whims. Again, if you look at a dog too much when you are stressed or to please the dog, the dog thinks he is in charge and can do whatever he wants.
From a human body language perspective, you may be able to think about it this way, powerful people don't need to make eye contact and watch. They just move forward. They know they are doing the right thing.
Dogs can interpret human eye contact as signaling, “I am looking at you because I need you to be the leader, I can’t take care of you.” If you have a dog that is not an alpha leader too much human eye contact can be stressful. Dogs don’t really want to be in charge. Dogs want their pet parent to take care of them. If a dog thinks, you need him to check for danger, lead the way and all those other Parent jobs it makes them uncomfortable. Take charge. It is the way to be nice to your dog.Stress is very contagious. Your stress effects them and make their lives more stressful and ultimately is communicated t you through their aggressiveness or whining and your life gets more stressed.

There are some kinds of human eye contact that mimics this power dance of “Who is in charge who is the follower.”. In human conversations, create an eye dance. The listener make more eye contact than the speaker and the lower status person be it a subordinate listening to his boss, a good child listening to a parent or a women listening to a man will make more eye contact, as they check in to know what to do than the speaker. In human conversation, that role can shift back and forth in a conversation. In dog-human interactions, dogs learn the role and may keep playing it out.
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Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional
The Body Language Expert
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