Why does my dog avoid eye contact? This is a question you may be asking if you are reading this post. There are a number of reasons that this can happen and in this article, we will do our best to get into these.
In short, your dog will avoid eye contact with you because it may feel guilty for doing something bad that they did. The more common reason could be that they are yielding to your dominance. In other cases, it may be a sign of fear. Understanding your dog’s body language is key in this situation as it will enable you to make the right judgment.
Dogs communicate and understand body language a lot better than humans do. They are able to read your posture, facial expression as well as mood very well. They know your intention by reading your body language. They know when you are happy, sad, or indifferent.
When you are down
This is something that has been learned and instinctively passed down through many hundreds to thousands of years of human/dog relations.
This understanding is passed down instinctively to present day dogs. Add to that the fact that the primary way that dogs communicate is through body language and you will get a better appreciation of how dogs view the world and the relationships around them.
Understand how YOUR dog acts
When you want to really understand dogs, you need to consider that a dog will behave very differently to their humans in comparison to strangers. A dog’s personality will also play a huge part in how they act towards you or a stranger.
When a dog is part of a loving and nurturing family setup where it receives a lot of love, care and attention, it will be accustomed to eye contact to a high degree. This is the case in instances where you are playing with them or Generally in a jovial mood.
Behaviour that might be deemed as passive-aggressive with other dogs may generally be left to slide in these situations. They recognize you as part of the pack and because you shelter and feed them, they see you as their pack leader. If you have a dog that is an alpha though, they will challenge your authority from time to time but in these moments, you need to be assertive in order to reaffirm your role as leader of the pack.
Understanding how other dogs act
When it comes to a strange dog though, it’s a completely different ball game. Prolonged eye contact will be viewed as an act of aggression. If the dog is timid, they will back off but if they are aggressive, they will most likely attack you.
It’s one of the main reasons that people get attacked by dogs. The other reason is running away which triggers prey instinct in them. When you encounter a strange dog, you best bet is to look down at their legs instead of their eyes so you see what they are doing.
Try to talk softly to them while moving slowly to a safe spot. Whenever they growl, stop moving but keep talking softy to them. Never be tempted to run unless you are at a distance where you can beat confidently beat them to safety.
Why does my dog look away from me when I look at him?
We gave that explanation on how dogs behave in order to better explain the reasons why your particular dog may act in the way that they do. So, why does your dog avoid eye contact?
One of the reasons that dogs will avoid eye contact with you is when they know they’ve done something wrong. Much like most honest humans, it will be difficult for your dog to hold eye contact for any length of time when they know they’ve done something wrong.
This behavior is short-lived though and they should get back to their normal selves once you show them that you are no longer concerned about the particular transgression they’ve committed and have moved on.
If this behavior continues to happen a long time after the initial incident you feel may have triggered the guilt, then something else could be at play and you may need to visit a dog behavioral expert so they assess your dog.
Acknowledging Your Dominance
We stated earlier how dogs view prolonged eye contact as a sign of challenge. If your dog sees this from you, they may look away as a way of acknowledging your position of dominance as the leader of the pack.
It is a sign of respect to you and it shows that they have no intention to challenge that dominance.
Sometimes it may be driven by fear. When they are afraid, your dog may avoid looking directly at you. If you suspect this to be the case, engage them in a way that reinforces that bond between the two of you. If this fails, you may want to engage a dog behavioural expert to help you get to the bottom of it and remedy the problem.
Is it bad to stare a dog in the eyes?
Staring a dog in the eyes for an extended period of time is not something that you want to do. If it’s your dog, it will make them uncomfortable. Some dog owners use this to their advantage as a way of disciplining their dog when they have done something bad.
This can be a none aggressive way of getting your dog to conform but it may have some undesired effects further down the road.
When dealing with a strange dog, this is a definite no-no. You never want to do that because it can trigger an aggressive reaction from them. In other instances, they may run away if they are the timid type but you wouldn’t want to take that risk.
What to do to fix the issue
In most cases, you may be able to fix this issue by following the advice in this post or from similar websites and forums. If you try different suggestions and they don’t work, your best course of action is to engage a behavioral expert to help you through the problem.
Conclusion on Dog Avoiding Eye Contact
To wrap it up, you need to ask yourself why you want to maintain eye contact with your dog in the first place. Is this for noble and sincere reasons on your part or are you simply stretching things? Make sure that you do not desire eye contact for reasons that are selfish and simply put your dog in an uncomfortable position.
Meet Fabian Wright, our guide into the animal realm at PetLoversArena.com. Having served as an Animal Care Specialist for the Ruwenzori Team at the Kansas City Zoo, he prioritizes conserving exotic species by replicating their habitats. Fabian aspires to share captivating stories of creatures, big and small, through PetLoversArena.com.