If you own a German Shepherd, you have probably noticed there are a few habits you were not expecting.
Among these is the odd habit of almost constantly staring at you. You are probably wondering why this is happening, and what you can do about it.
There are several reasons why your German Shepherd may be staring at you and trying to decipher the exact reason could be a bit of a challenge. He could want food or a toy, need to go to the bathroom, or simply want some of your attention.
Whatever the reason, you must take the time to try to figure it out, because there could be something wrong that you need to help him with.
Why Is My German Shepherd Staring At Me?
German Shepherds are bred to be work dogs. Because they are capable of performing labor-intensive tasks for a large majority of the day, they must get enough exercise to keep stimulated. Your pet may be staring at you simply because they are waiting for you to play.
Make sure your four-legged friend gets plenty of daily exercise by taking him for walks every day. Let him run around your yard if you can, or play fetch together.
He Needs Help
Your dog may need something that they cannot get on their own. This is typically why dogs will stare at you while you are eating, especially if you have shared a meal in the past.
If you want this behavior to stop, do your best to ignore your pet while you are eating, at every meal. Reward him when you notice he is not staring at you at times when he would have typically displayed this behavior.
He is Afraid
Your pet may be trying to let you know that something is scaring them. When your pet is afraid, staring at you could help to calm them, as they will better be able to anticipate your next move if they can see you.
If you are dealing with an issue of fear, one thing you can do is to avoid punishments too much. Also, be sure you are offering a reward any time you see a behavior that you would like to continue.
He is Angry
Sometimes, staring is a sign that your dog is asking for some space. When this is the case it is often accompanied by other signs of aggression, including growling, baring teeth, or biting. This is most commonly seen between two dogs who are about to fight.
If you believe your pet may be angry, it is important that you not stare back. Dogs tend to perceive staring as an act of aggression and can lead to even more aggressive behavior, such as biting.
He Loves You
According to a study performed in 2015, the oxytocin level of both dogs and humans rise when they look at each other.
Oxytocin is the hormone that increases social bonding, so this could be the reason your dog is staring at you.
If your German Shepherd follows your orders, protects you, nuzzles or licks you, gets excited when you come home, follows you, or allows you to pet their belly, they may love you. Staring is a sign that they are looking to see if you love them too.
He is Waiting For Something
When you always do certain things at the same time every day, like taking the dog for a walk or setting out a bowl of food, your dog will come to expect that and to get used to that routine.
As a result, if you are late doing something, your pet may sit and stare at you to find out if you are going to do the activity that it is used to you doing.
He Needs the Bathroom
Many pets will come and find you when they have to go to the bathroom because you are the one who opens the door for them.
They may also look at you while they are going to the bathroom because they want to see if you are going to look out for predators for them.
Going to the bathroom puts your pet in a vulnerable position that leaves them open for other animals to attack them. They are staring at you to determine whether you are protecting them during this time.
It Has Done Something Wrong
Sometimes your beloved pet will make a mistake. It happens to the best of us. But when this happens, he will look to you to see how you will react.
If your normal response would be to punish your pet, try to switch things up and reward the positive behavior instead.
He is Waiting For You
Many German Shepherds have been trained for a whole host of working purposes. When these dogs stare at their owners, they are waiting for a command from them so that they know what to do next.
Or, it could be that you have given too many commands and they are not entirely sure what you would like them to do first.
How Do I Get My German Shepherd To Stop Staring At Me?
You have several options if you would like to limit the number of times that your pet stares at you.
First, you could try to simply ignore the behavior. Doing so will especially help if your pet is staring at you in an attempt to receive attention. Ignoring your pet will show them that you are in charge.
For the ignore method to truly work, you will need to ignore any behavior that occurs along with the staring. That means you may not punish any bad behavior as well.
When your dog begins to behave in the manner you want, you should reward him right away so he knows that is the way you want him to act.
This also means that you should not give it anything it likes while the staring behavior is happening. For example, if you are eating, do not give him any of your food. Doing so will only encourage the behavior to continue.
Also, make sure your pet is getting enough exercise and attention from you. This will help ensure your pet is happy and healthy and will help to keep the staring to a minimum.
One great way to make sure your pet is getting enough exercise while also giving it plenty of your attention is to play fetch.
This activity is not only engaging for both of you as you are playing together, but it will also encourage your pet to run long distances as it must run to retrieve an item and then run to bring it back to you.
If none of your efforts are working, and your pet continues to stare at you, or you simply cannot figure out why your pet is staring at you, it may be time to consult a dog behaviorist.
It could be that your pets staring is the result of a behavioral issue that you may not have the experience necessary to diagnose on your own.
Remember, having your pet staring at you is not necessarily a bad thing. While it may make you feel uncomfortable for the behavior to continue, your pet does not always stare for a bad reason.
It could simply want attention, directly from you, have to go to the bathroom, or the staring could be done out of love.
In the end, it is important to know that staring is not abnormal behavior for a dog of any breed.
All dogs will stare at you at some point, and it does not mean that there is something wrong with them. Keep this in mind and try your best not to become frustrated if this activity is occurring in your home.
And remember, if you are having any trouble at all, there is no harm in consulting the help of a professional. Whether you have a dog behaviorist come to your home and help out on a one-on-one basis, or you can always seek out help in the form of a training program.
Obedience training will not only help to reduce any behaviors you do not want, but it will also help to create a closer bond between you and your pet.
Many studies have shown that owners of pets who behave better end up with a stronger bond and have a better lifelong relationship.
Not only will obedience training help deepen your bond with your pet, but it will also help keep your pet safer, help you be able to manage your pet more easily, and it is a great way to get some activity in for your pet as well as yourself.