Why your dog stares at you while doing its business

Written by Henrik Rothen

Sep.25 - 2023 11:55 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Why your dog stares at you while doing its business

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Have you ever wondered why your dog maintains intense eye contact with you while relieving itself? The answer to this peculiar behavior is more complex than you might think.

Most dog owners have experienced those slightly awkward moments when their four-legged friend settles into a position outdoors and insists on making eye contact while doing its business. This intense gaze continues until a brown pile is ready for you to pick up with a black bag.

So, what's the reason behind this eye contact that would seem absurd if exchanged between two adults? According to an article on The Dodo's website, there are multiple explanations. Madeline Friedman, a dog trainer and expert in canine behavior, suggests that this behavior traces back to when the dog was a puppy.

The dog likely received praise and some form of reward for successfully doing its business outdoors, rather than on the living room rug. This experience has stayed with the dog, leading it to look intently at you in hopes of receiving praise and treats after its bathroom break.

Dog trainer Nick Jones offers another interpretation. He explains that if a dog is staring at its owner, it's probably seeking approval to ensure it's using an acceptable spot for its needs. The dog may have been scolded in the past for choosing the wrong place, making it apprehensive about the consequences.

Madeline Friedman also suggests that the intense gaze could be related to instinct and vulnerability.

"The pooping position is a vulnerable one for dogs," she says.

The feeling of vulnerability likely stems from the dog's wild ancestors, the wolves, who had to fend for themselves in nature. The dog may be keeping an eye out to ensure you've got its back while it's in this vulnerable position.

Veterinarian Sonja Olson offers yet another perspective: "The dog is asking for some privacy." According to her, it might actually be you who keeps staring at the dog while it's doing its business, not the other way around.

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