If you are a dog person, there is a great chance that the only reason why you are here right now is that you are worried, sad, and disappointed out of your mind that your darling dog does not look at you in the eye or maintain eye contact with you.
It is surely saddening, especially because eye contact is seen as a sign of consideration and love in our human world and tends to spark affection between two people, hence it boasts a lot of importance.
You might hardly find a pet-owner or animal-lover who is not totally in love and smitten with the adorable and loving creatures that dogs are.
When people bring dogs into their lives, there is no way that the dog will not start to feel like a part of their family.
Dogs are referred to as a ‘man’s best friend’ for the exact same reasons. Dogs are great learners and during learning, they prove to be even better teachers.
Owning a dog can help a person learn how to provide unconditional love to their family up until the last breath because that is exactly what dogs do.
A dog owner can learn a ton of things from their dog’s behavior, personality, and demeanor, and a dog’s bravery, strength, resilience can be great lessons for its owners.
Undoubtedly, dogs are probably the most beloved pets all over the globe and it seems weird as to why won’t such a loving animal not do something that is known to be the most powerful stimulator of love.
So why will not a friendly, loyal, and trustworthy animal like a dog not want to make eye contact with you?
There are several factors that could be the reason behind this problem including:
- Your dog is not exactly the kind that chooses eye contact as its mode of affection
- Your dog is in some sort of pain
- Your dog is feeling anxious or stressed or is experiencing some kind of agitation
- Eye contact means something else for your dog
- Your dog is guilty of making a mistake
- Your dog does not trust you enough
And many more, however, we will be looking at a few, more complicated ones in this article. You may find it easier to catch if your pet is in distress or pain, but the other issues are some that you might not be well aware of, so that is exactly what we are going to be discussing today.
Eye contact might not be ‘it’ for your dog:
It will not be far-fetched to say that we share more than just love and snuggles with our furry friends.
Dogs are a lot like humans, and just like us, each dog has its own personality that is unique from its furry brother.
Some dogs are shy, some extremely affectionate, while some are straight up not a ‘people’s person.’
The pressing issue of one’s dog not willing to make eye contact with them can arise due to various reasons, out of which personality is one.
The way your dog behaves in front of you and how it acts with you reveals a ton about their personality, just like a human being, and you may get to learn that maybe your dog is not very fond of choosing eye contact as their way of expressing their love for you. This too has various sub-reasons that we will be talking about later in the text.
Instead of eye contact, your dog may resort to cuddling, touching, gentle nuzzling, etc.
Or more elaborate acts of love such as showing trust in you by bringing you items that need some mending, or showing extreme excitement whenever it sees you, guarding you while you eat, or just rub its face with you.
Just because your certain dog does not feel like having eye contact with you, you don’t have to go “Why does my dog not look at me? Does it not love me? Am i not a good caretaker?”
Rather, let it be known to yourself that it is not necessary that the dog might not want to choose eye contact as its love language.
Look out for other signs that indicate affection and attachment and you might even be surprised at how much your dog actually loves and cares for you!
Eye contact might not translate as ‘love’ for your canine friend:
Like I shared earlier, eye contact is unarguably one of the greatest signs of a rather larger set of emotions apart from love.
Yes, love is one of the main emotions that is stimulated through eye contact, however studies show that eye contact may be used to channel a range of other emotions including dominance, honesty, friendliness, etc and these could either be expressed on their own, or under the generic emotion of love too.
Notice that I said dominance.
Now if we take a look at our furry pals, we will see that they too channel a range of emotions through the usage of eye contact.
These also include love, dominance, and perhaps a very significant emotion, anger/warning.
And it is true that the correct kind of eye contact can help cultivate trust between you and your dog and also strengthen the bond that exists between you too!
However, even if there are a lot of similarities between us and our dogs, differences may exist when it comes to eye contact.
Yes, they do maintain eye contact, it’s just that the rules are a little different.
A dog may initiate eye contact when it sees another dog for the first time to determine if it wants to interact or not, but in this case too, the eye contact does not last more than a couple of seconds as compared to how long humans can maintain eye contact.
In the second instance, dogs may establish eye contact in order to declare dominance. If a dog gets this sort of eye contact from another dog, then it will either choose to hold the eye contact to express that it is not backing down, or else it’ll immediately break the eye contact and “surrender” by taking the submissive role.
Similarly, if you try to hold eye contact with a dog, it will again go either way.
If you do not know the dog then it will most probably either get scared by you, or try to scare or attack you.
When it comes to your own dog, it may be possible to strengthen your bond with it, but this may also not always be true.
Sometimes dogs may not feel comfortable holding your stare because they normally consider it as a way to assert dominance or express a warning for them, instead of showing love.
They don’t want their owner to think that they don’t love them, hence they might not maintain eye contact.
And they also want to mislead their owner by asserting dominance over them because they totally understand that the owner is supposed to be the one who dominates.
That is as simple as it gets.
There is really nothing much to worry about here.
Maybe your dog is guilty about something:
Dogs are cute as hell, but sometimes they can prove to be mischievous little creatures as well and can get in trouble.
The cherry on top, they will know that they have done something that they should not have done and do not want you to find out or hold them accountable!
So much mischief with even more intelligence!
It’s natural that no matter how vigilant you are, you cannot keep an eye over your pet round the clock, so if your dog ends up getting into trouble, then it’s totally natural, and definitely not your fault so don’t give yourself a hard time about that, at least.
Coming back to why your dog won’t make eye contact with you if it is guilty about something.
Just like a human would, a dog will also tend to develop a very hunkered down behavior if it does something wrong and is afraid for you to find out and be disappointed in them.
And one of the parts of this hunched behavior can be the avoidance of eye contact.
You don’t have to worry yourself sick if this happens.
Guilt has the power to turn the tables on humans, dogs are just animals.
The stress of guilt has an intense psychological impact on the human mind and dogs are no different.
A guilty dog may be afraid to show any physical affection at all, just because of the thought of getting into a situation where it has to sense the dissatisfaction in its master.
Whatever your dog has done may not even be such a big deal to you, but to them, it is. It may just be something as minor and random as messing up your things or destructive chewing on your shoes, but a dog may consider it as the ultimate sin.
And it will try to avoid your gaze as much as it can to escape any potential punishment from you.
And that is why it will try to escape your eye contact because it makes them fear the consequences of what they have done.
They basically just do not want you to get angry or disappointed.
And I think that is hella cute.
Is it okay if your dog is not willing to look at you in the eye?
Now comes the imperious question as to if it is even okay if your dog suddenly starts to avoid or escape your gaze.
As much as it is natural that your dog starts to prevent from looking at you in the eye, it still is not very good if this happens due to a few reasons:
- Firstly, perhaps the most important factor is that avoiding eye contact can mean that the dog is guilty of something and is now afraid of you; it can worsen that fear and start to deteriorate the bonding between you two. Fear is definitely not something you want so actively in a relationship that is supposed to be based on love and trust.
- Secondly, as I said at the beginning of the text, your dog might not have enough trust in you to hold your rather friendly stare. Eye contact may be considered as a sign of love, friendliness, and trust in dogs in certain cases. And if your dog does not have that certain degree of trust in you to be easily looking in your eyes, then it simply will not. And that again is something you don’t want in a healthy, loving relationship between the two of you.
- It is said that dogs can be more easily trained when they know how to make eye contact with you because even though dogs can recognize a lot of human words, they still pick up more through certain gestures, movements, and the overall body language of its trainer. If your dog isn’t used to looking at you in the eye, then it might be a little difficult to train it.
How can I teach my dog to make eye contact with me?
I’m sure that by now you have clearly understood a few reasons behind the problem “why won’t my dog look at me? ”
And also if it is okay in case your dog suddenly starts to break eye contact with you, or has never made it?
Whether it be guilt, shyness, lack of trust, different meanings of eye contact, or just a dog who does not prefer eye contact, it must also be clear that you can never force anyone to do something you want.
Even your dog.
However, there are a few more dog-friendly ways using which you can train your dog to start maintaining eye contact with you.
- Initiate shorter, friendlier eye contact:
If you have just brought your dog as the newest member of your clan, then it is normal that your dog may not be able to make eye contact because it is most definitely not used to do so and if you just stare at it, it will feel as if it is being intimidated.
Everyone feels shy.
And like I said before, it may get difficult to start to train your dog because they barely understand how to make eye contact with you.
In such cases, what you can do is to make eye contact with your dog for brief time periods so that they can realize that you are doing so as part of a friendly gesture, instead of an intimidating one.
- Do not make the mistake of staring too hard in its eyes:
When a dog is new to you, you need to realize that you are new to it as well.
Normally, dogs consider eye contact as a way of asserting dominance or giving a threat because that’s what they learn with their fellow canine friends. We have talked about this in the start of this article.
And it makes sense that if you see a dog for the first time, bring it in your family, and just start to recklessly stare into its eyes, the dog can get confused and think that you are trying to bring him down.
It might seem like a normal stare to you, but to your dog, it is more than just you looking into his eyes to stimulate the creation of a bond.
So, in order for your dog to not misunderstand that you are trying to channel friendliness through your stare instead of anger or dominance, just don’t stare at it.
- Resort to treats:
Another brilliant way to train your dog to make eye contact with you is by rewarding it every time it does so.
That way your dog can start to learn that eye contact is considered as a gesture of kindness, reward, love, and friendliness between you two, and will start to become less hesitant in doing so over the passage of time.
All you have to do is start by taking a treat (whatever your dog is into) and place it on your eye level. As a result, your dog will look at you in the eye, and when it does so, you have to give him the treat.
- Practice, practice, practice:
You must have heard about “practice makes a man perfect.”
But let me tell you, the practice can help a dog get perfect as well.
Oh should i say fur-fect.
Jokes aside, once your dog starts to understand the friendly associations you are trying to convey to him, all you have to do is keep doing it more and more so it gets used to it and the relationship between eye contact and love gets imprinted onto its mind.
You can start to hold the treat next to your eye for a longer period of time before rewarding your dog with a treat so that it can start to practice holding eye contact for longer time periods as well.
As an outcome, your dog won’t only realize that eye contact is a friendly, loving gesture, but will also learn how to hold your stare for a longer time period.
Even with all these tips and tricks in hand, you still need to understand that all of this takes a lot of patience.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
For some dogs, it may take a shorter time to learn the whole process, while for some it may take longer than anticipated. Just be patient and go with the flow.
However, if your dog seems to still be avoiding your gaze, and look like it’s distressed or gets nervous every time you try to hold your practice session, then you can refer to a professional for assistance.
It is understood that if your dog avoids holding your gaze, it may be a saddening and disappointing issue for you because all you want to do is express your love for it, however, it should be noted that all dogs are different and each one displays its personality through its body language.
The reasons can range anywhere from guilt to lack of will, and there are ways you can resolve these issues, however you can adopt various practical procedures to solve these issues.