Sometimes my Goldendoodle Lexie will simply sit and stare at me. I try to ask her what she wants (a pet, cuddle, go outside, go to bed…) and I get nothing, just a stare. Occasionally it may be paired with a slight whimper (usually when she wants to go to bed and I don’t). Over the years I have learned most of what she is trying to communicate by staring at me. If you are curious as to why your Goldendoodle is staring at you, I’m going to explain the research I have done and also my own personal experience over the past six years living with a doodle.
Why Does My Goldendoodle Stare At Me?
Goldendoodles typically stare at you to ask for food, to go outside, to go to bed or they simply want attention from you.
Additionally, they could stare because they are interested in you, like you, and so you literally captivate them. Finally, if there is something wrong and they are scared or unhappy, a Goldendoodle might stare at a person to warn them to back off or try to take control of a situation.
While we may wish differently sometimes, dogs cannot talk. All of their communication happens through their eyes and their body language. If you are wondering why your Goldendoodle is paying so much attention to you, it might be because they are trying to capture your attention.
For example, at some point, we have all had to deal with our dogs begging. Begging might include whining, pawing, licking, or spinning around when your dog wants, say, food off your plate. But always begging involves a direct, intense stare.
Beyond direct at-the-table begging, your Goldendoodle may begin staring at you at mealtimes in general. Or, they will look at you when they want to go outside. Whenever they want or need anything from you at all, it will likely begin with a stare.
Your Goldendoodle is trying to make eye contact with you – get you to notice them – so that you might also notice any other body language or vocalizations they are using to relay their desires. It is a completely understandable strategy that we humans will even use on each other from time to time.
Since dogs have evolved, in a sense, alongside humans for thousands of years, it is no wonder that they have become adept at communicating with us in a variety of ways. Staring us down to get our attention so we can read their expressions and interpret their demands is just one of them.
Affection and Submissiveness
We have all seen it in the movies – someone’s dog snuggles up to them, lays their head in the person’s lap, and stares up into their face. We understand the message, which is that the dog cares for them and is trying to express their affection. Dogs do this in everyday life too, and your Goldendoodle may be gazing at you sometimes for no other reason than that they adore you.
Since dogs have become domesticated, they look to us as pack members/family members and leaders. The question of whether dog love is equatable to human love is best left up to scientists and philosophers, but all dog-lovers know that they do experience affection for us. Some individual dogs or entire breeds are known for being especially into their humans.
Golden Retrievers and Poodles, the two parent breeds that produce a Goldendoodle, are both very responsive to and can be extremely affectionate with people. Your Goldendoodle, then, might have inherited the ability to be a little obsessed with you.
Have you not ever caught yourself just staring down at them? Just because you love them and it brings you joy to look at them? Well, it is likely they will reciprocate this emotional action as well.
So, whether they are cuddling up close with you or watching you from across the room, consider that it may just be because you are the center of your Goldendoodle’s universe.
A dog’s sense of smell, on average, is between 10,000 and 100,000 times stronger than a human’s. Fascinatingly, this means that dogs can occasionally smell when we are sick, hurt, or just whenever there is something very off about us.
Dogs have been utilized to detect certain types of cancer, warn when a person with epilepsy is about to have a seizure, warn when a diabetic is about to crash, even sniff out certain viral infections, liver failure, and more.
A Goldendoodle may stare at you, then, because they smell that you are not well. They may also sniff you intensely, nudge, whine, or paw at an affected area of your body in an attempt to alert you to what they are sensing.
If your Goldendoodle makes these kinds of exaggerated, persistent, and unusual gestures towards you all of the sudden, you should start paying attention. This is especially true if you are feeling sick or in any pain, but often dogs can smell illness before there is any other symptom.
While the phenomenon of dogs alerting owners to serious illness happens out of the blue relatively rarely, it could be one explanation for why your Goldendoodle is suddenly staring at you.
Staring out of concern for your welfare does not have to be limited to physical reasons. Dogs of course respond to emotional crises as well, as anyone who has had a pet voluntarily comfort them during a breakdown will tell you.
Sensing a significant downtick in your health in any way will likely draw your dog’s attention, which will cause them to at the very least stare, if not attempt to warn or comfort you otherwise.
Pay attention to the context clues to decide if your Goldendoodle is staring at you because they are worried.
The reality of owning a dog is that it does not always go as smoothly as we would hope. We love our dogs and, if we are good to them, most of the time they love us back. But that does not mean dog ownership never comes with challenges.
Sometimes, we may struggle with training issues or with healing previous psychological problems and baggage that dogs can bring with them when we bring them home upon adoption.
An example of such an issue could be food guarding. When I was little, my family had a dog who was very sensitive about his food bowl. He only let the most trusted family members get near or pick up the bowl.
To everyone else, he would growl warningly or snap if they got too close. My parents told me it was because he was bullied away from food as a puppy by his littermates, and the previous family who raised him participated in the “game” of teasing him about food.
So it was not my childhood dog’s fault that he had a complex about the food bowl. Other dogs may have more generalized anxieties or feelings of fear and aggression that even their owners can trigger.
When a dog is feeling threatened, hostile, or wants to challenge a person, they may stare directly into their eyes. Unlike loving or beseeching stares, their body language will be hostile as well. They may become very quiet with rigid muscles and hackles raised. Or, they may begin to growl or snarl.
If you are ever facing behavioral issues with your Goldendoodle where they stare at you fearfully or threateningly, you should seek help from a dog professional like a trainer. This is especially true if you feel afraid and/or not equipped to understand what your dog needs in that situation.
Is It Bad to Stare A Dog in The Eyes?
It depends. If a dog feels threatened or is aggressive, staring in their eyes could make them feel even more threatened and cause them to lash out. On the other hand, if you are having positive interactions with a dog, staring into their eyes might further facilitate bonding and joy between you.
Whether or not you should stare a dog in the eyes relies completely on context. If it is a strange dog, or if it is showing signs of fear, discomfort, or aggression, it is usually unwise to stare a dog in the eyes.
Prolonged eye contact in a non-amicable situation represents a challenge from a dog’s point of view. It could provoke a dog into growling, barking, or even attacking the person who is staring.
However, if you have a good relationship with your dog, and they accept you as the leader of the “pack,” it is usually harmless to meet their gaze in most situations. After all, your dog may be trying to communicate with you, which it has been bred to do by meeting your eyes.
Studies have also shown that eye contact between a dog and its owner releases oxytocin, a happiness and bonding chemical, in the brains of both human and animal.
Have you been looking across the room or right next to you at your Goldendoodle while reading this article? Hopefully now next time they stare right at you, you will have a better idea as to what they might be thinking about.
Perhaps you already know they want something, and now you know their staring is related to their request. Or maybe now you feel a little more special because you know your Goldendoodle loves to look at you the way you look at them.
If you are lucky, the staring is not related to any other problematic behaviors. But, if so, at least now you will be better able to associate one behavior with the other as you seek resolutions and consult professionals as needed.