Humans widely communicate through eye contact (apart from vocal and body language), but is this true for dogs as well? When your dog is unwilling to make eye contact with you, what could it mean?
Dogs perceive eye contact differently from humans. While we’re fine with occasional eye contact, any staring is viewed as offensive, hostile, or intimidating behavior to dogs, and they will react negatively to it.
But is that the only reason why your dog is averting your eye contact? Let’s find out from this post.
Among the possible reasons for your dog looking away are: he is being submissive, he has done something wrong and is afraid of punishment, you have made this behavior a positive one for him, he is under stress or suffering from lazy eye.
Your Dog Is Signaling That He Is Submissive to You
Dogs often use direct eye contact as a means of establishing or challenging dominance. When your dog is avoiding any eye contact with you, he regards you as his pack leader, and he is not going to challenge your authority.
In most cases, this is your dog “saying” that you are in charge and that he is submissive. It isn’t something you need to be concerned about.
Your dog is trying to convey his respect and love for you when he demonstrates submission to you.
Furthermore, it could also indicate he is at ease being vulnerable around you as he trusts you.
Here are 7 signs your dog is submissive.
- Lying Belly Up. A dog showing his belly or rolling over is a clear indication of submission.
- Submissive Peeing. When you walk into the house, your dog pees a bit when he sees you.
- Pulling his ears back. When your dog is submissive, he will place his ears against his head.
- Try to avoid direct eye contact with you.
- Wagging his tail low and in a fast motion.
- His body crouching down.
- Shrinking his body.
Generally, this behavior is completely normal.
Fearing Punishment from You for His Misbehavior
When your dog avoids your gaze, it’s usually because he is afraid that you’ll punish him for his misbehavior and is certainly not because he is feeling guilty about doing something bad.
Guilt and remorse are a part of human emotion, but it doesn’t apply to animals.
Dogs are much more interested in the outcome of their actions rather than whether they are correct or not.
If your dog does something that makes you angry, and you have punished him for that, he will learn that this behavior will lead to unpleasant experiences and will avoid your eye contact when similar accidents happen again.
The best way to assess your dog’s emotional state is by paying attention to the subtle cues your dog gives you.
If you notice any of these signs, your dog may be experiencing anxiety and fear.
- His ears are flattened.
- Licking his lips excessively.
- Hiding in one corner of the house.
- His tail is tucked behind his back.
- Averting any eye contact with you.
- Constantly scratching himself.
The best way to identify what is causing your dog to feel so anxious is to think about what has happened recently.
What was the last time he was punished for something? Was it just a small incident? If so, then you probably shouldn’t punish him.
If it was something more serious, then you need to figure out what has caused him to behave badly and work on correcting his undesirable behavior.
To correct his behavior, you should reward him for doing the right thing. It’s imperative to let him know that when he is well-behaved, GOOD things will happen.
Consistency (in rewarding your dog for doing the right things) is therefore crucial when you are training your dog to stop unwanted behavior. It is the key to helping your dog to learn.
You should never punish your dog for doing something wrong. Punishment only makes him fearful of you and can create a vicious cycle of bad behavior.
Instead, he needs to learn what are the behaviors that he needs to stop exhibiting.
You should use positive reinforcement and reward him for behaving well. This is how he learns to associate good behavior with a positive outcome.
Instead of punishing him for bad behavior, you should use treats, toys, or playtime as a reward for good behavior. This will make your dog want to do the right thing.
You Had Made This Behavior a Positive One For Him
Did you accidentally encourage this behavior (which is looking away from you) as a positive experience for your dog?
That is, when your dog looks away from you, you start offering him treats as a way to get his attention back to you?
This, in fact, will make your dog learn that by looking away from you, GOOD things will happen! He will be rewarded with his favorite treats and your petting.
When you do this, you’re encouraging that undesirable behavior because you’re giving your dog a reward for doing so. He would love to repeat that behavior again to earn his reward.
A Sign That He Is Stressed
When dogs are uncomfortable, they can use a variety of different coping behaviors to reduce the stress. This includes behaviors such as looking away, vocalizing, and other non-aggressive behaviors.
Being around a stressed family member is enough to affect most dogs, as dogs can sense when things don’t feel right.
When you are feeling stressed, your dog will be able to pick up on that feeling, making him feel stressed as well.
This is because your body will release adrenaline and cortisol, which increases your blood pressure and heart rate when you are stressed.
When your dog senses this, he may start to feel anxious and will naturally want to avoid any eye contact with you and tilt his head to the side or down, making him look like he is avoiding something.
Most dogs also have a habit of licking their lips and flicking their tongues out. This is usually done when a dog is anxious. Other signs of anxiety include:
- Panting – often with a curled tongue tip, not a relaxed one.
- Constantly moving in a pacing motion.
- His ears were pinned back.
- Reddened eyes and dilated pupils.
- Showing the whites of his eyes (whale eyes).
What Causes Dogs Stressed?
Dogs are social animals, and they thrive on activity and playtime. As a result, they can get very stressed when they don’t get enough exercise.
They’re also susceptible to getting stressed because of the following factors:
- Aging-induced confusion and memory loss.
- Fears associated with loud noises, strange objects, large crowds and new environments.
- Feelings of separation.
Furthermore, studies suggest that your own emotional health and stress levels can affect your dog’s stress.
That’s why it’s important to control your emotions and keep calm when you are with your dog.
Keep your dog active and stimulated as that will help him feel at ease. Dogs that are given enough exercise become calmer and more relaxed.
Exercise is critical for dogs
Even if you have a well-trained dog, exercise is still important for him. If you’re having trouble motivating your dog, here are some ways you can make sure he gets the exercise he needs:
– Make a game out of fetch. Playing fetch together is a great way to spend time with your pet.When you take him to the park or to his favorite play area, spend the time playing with him. Use a tennis ball or any type of soft toy.
– Take your dog for a walk. Walking is a great exercise and fun way to spend time with your dog.
– Go for a swim. Some dogs really enjoy swimming, and you can use this opportunity to get your dog to the beach.
– Teach your dog tricks. Learning tricks can help your dog feel like he’s accomplishing something. For example, you could teach your dog to ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘shake’, or ‘roll over’. You can even teach your dog to shake hands.
– Keep the treats coming. You’ll find that a healthy amount of treats helps your dog to stay happy and motivated.
– Give your dog plenty of attention. When you have a dog, you need to give him sufficient love and attention. This doesn’t mean that you need to do everything your dog wants you to, but you should always be willing to give them your attention.
– Be consistent. If you don’t stick to a schedule with your dog, he may get confused and think that you’re not interested in spending time with him. Try to give your dog the same amount of attention every day.
– Be positive. As your dog becomes more comfortable around you, you’ll start to notice changes in his behavior. Your dog’s personality may also start to shift. If you notice that your dog is becoming happier or more confident, try to take advantage of these opportunities to bond with him.
He Is Suffering from Lazy Eye
Lazy eye is a common visual disorder that causes one eye to point lower than the other. When this occurs, your dog may be looking at you in a way that appears to be confused, disoriented and not having any direct eye contact.
It is a condition in which your dog’s eyes are misaligned. One eye turns in and the other turns out. This causes the two eyes to not line up.
When this happens, your dog’s vision will not be the same for each eye. Instead, they will track two different points and this makes you think that your dog is looking away from you.
Several factors contribute to the development of lazy eyes in dogs. It may be hereditary, due to a head injury, tumors, vestibular disease, or it may be a development problem.
There are two types of lazy eye. One type is exotropia, where one eye is turned inwards towards the nose while the other eye is turned outwards.
The other type of lazy eye is esotropia, where both eyes are turned outwards, but are not pointed in the same direction.
Exotropia lazy eye can be caused by an eye muscle imbalance or a nerve defect, whereas esotropia can occur because the eyes are misaligned. It can also be caused by eye muscle imbalance.
Lazy eyes can affect any dog, but most often, they affect older dogs. As your dog ages, their muscles become weaker, and the eyes stop working properly.
Lazy eyes can be caused by an eye muscle imbalance, a nerve defect, or structural problems with the eye.
Symptoms may include squinting, blinking, or moving his head in a circular motion. These problems can affect your dog’s ability to focus on objects.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s vision, take him to a veterinarian to have his eyes checked. This disorder can be corrected surgically.