What Does It Mean When A Dog Will Not Look You In The Eye

Dogs communicate in their own ways with us. It can get a bit tricky to understand everything, but you must know the basics. For instance, dogs love to communicate with their eyes. They way they look at you or don’t can tell you a lot about how they feel. Now, certain behaviors will mean different things depending on whether or not the dog knows who you are. If it’s a strange dog, things might mean something else entirely.

So, what does it mean when a dog will not look you in the eye? A dog will not look you in the eye out of respect. Dogs only stare when they want to establish their dominance over you. So, if they respect you and don’t want confrontation, they won’t stare. Now, if they won’t even look you for 1 second, then, they’re likely afraid of you.

Now, if you want to know all the possible reasons why a dog won’t look you in the eye and how to fix it, keep reading till the end. There are a lot of things that you might misinterpret, so you need to know this. Also, you have to consider if it’s a puppy, an adult dog, or a rescued dog.

So, make sure to find out why your dog does not look you in the eye and do whatever you can to fix it. Our dogs must trust us and have a real bond with us. This will increase their happiness and quality of life.

99% Of The Time It’s Out Of Respect

Most of the time, a dog will not look you in the eye out of respect. We’re talking about the occasions in which a dog looks you in the eye but does not stare. If they don’t look you in the eye for more than 2 seconds, it’s out of respect. You don’t need to worry about the dog being afraid. They just respect you.

Dogs that are dominant and want to confront you will stare. It’s like a contest to see who’s more dominant. Sometimes this can even escalate to barking and attacking. It’s important to notice the difference between these two situations. When it’s out of respect, there’s nothing to worry about. Case closed.

So, make sure to pay attention to how much the dog will allow himself to look you in the eye. If the contact happens but only for a few seconds, then, it’s just out of respect. He knows he’s not supposed to stare you in the eyes. It’d mean a fight, which they don’t want.

The Dog May Be Afraid Of You

Another possibility that a dog may not look you in the eye is that the dog may be afraid of you. In this situation, the dog will not look you in the eye at all. Not even for 1 second. This is important to notice because if the context doesn’t make sense for your dog to be afraid, you need to investigate what’s causing the fear.

Let’s say that your dog won’t look you in the eye even when you’re trying to play with him. In this case, you should worry. You need to further investigate why your dog is afraid of you. It’s important to solve this. First of all, because you don’t want your dog to fear you but to respect you. Second of all, because fear turns into anger eventually.

So, make sure to learn why your dog is presenting such behavior. Now, if the said dog isn’t yours, you should just leave him be it. Sometimes it’s a good idea not to force an interaction with the dog.

The Dog May Not Be Comfortable In The House

Sometimes the problem isn’t you. It’s the house. If the dog will not look anyone in the eye, maybe he’s having a problem feeling safe in the house. If this is a new dog, then, you need to make sure that he feels at home. The best way to do this is to make it clear what place in the house belongs to him. The most effective way to do this it’s to give him a comfy bed.

Dogs need to feel that a place in the house is theirs. Put the bed in a comfy corner with a nice temperature. Also, put their bowls and toys around. If you do this, you’ll notice that the dog will eventually feel at home and interact with you.

So, make sure to get them a comfy bed. If you have a puppy this is even more important. They may still miss their moms, so make sure to give them a bed that makes them feel warm and hugged. The Best Friends by Sheri is the best dog bed for puppies because it does just that. Check it out here.

Sometimes It’s Just Shyness

If a dog will look at you but look away when you look at them, then, it’s likely that shyness is the issue. Shy dogs can be tricky, but nothing that patience and love can change. The secret is to get them comfortable enough around you. This happens quite a lot with puppies.

What you need to do is to play with them. This usually solves the issue. Playtime is the best medicine because it gets the dog comfortable around you, and it establishes a bond between you two. All you need to do is to play with him 10 minutes every day for the shyness to go away.

So, make sure that it’s shy. If it is, playtime is likely to fix it. Now, to do this, make sure that you get a nice pack of toys to help him lose his shyness faster than he can chew your shoes. The SHARLOVY Dog Squeaky Toys 5 Pack is an excellent toy pack for shy dogs. Take a look here.

Make Sure It’s Not A Staring Contest

When you stare into a dog’s eyes you’re establishing dominance. The problem is when the dog stares back and challenges you. This can quickly escalate into a fight. Now, when the dog doesn’t stare back, it may mean that he’s afraid as you’ve read above. In any case like this, you should make sure it’s not a staring contest.

This will only make the dog uncomfortable. If a dog is not looking you in the eye at all, the best you can do is to get him to trust you. Be comfortable around you. If he does look you in the eye but doesn’t stare, it’s completely normal. He just respects you or is shy. Both reasons are perfectly acceptable.

So, every time you notice that the dog isn’t looking you in the eye, especially when it’s not your dog, make sure to leave him alone.

If It’s A Rescued Dog There Might Be A Trauma

We’ve talked about puppies, strange dogs, and adult dogs. Still, we need to talk about rescued dogs. You need to consider that maybe the dog is traumatized by something you didn’t do. You must try to learn as much about the dog’s past when you adopt a rescued dog.

This is important because you can better help him when you know about it. So, if he was rescued under poor living conditions, he may be too scared of anyone. In this case, it’s ideal that you’re an experienced dog owner since it helps to deal with something like that.

So, if the dog is a rescued dog, consider that he might be scared of humans in general. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to get the help of an animal behavioral expert to find out what to do.

Taking Your Dog For A Walk Will Make Him Comfortable With You

Walking with your dog every day will form a bond like no other between the two of you. This is why it’s important to not miss a walk and make sure you do it right. This means going for a walk when your dog is calm. Establishing from the beginning that you’re in control.

Your dog needs to know that you’re the leader. Once you succeed at this, your dog will look you in the eye. When you have a bond, he won’t avoid looking you in the eye. He just won’t look you in a confrontational way. He’ll make sure to not stare.

So, make sure to get a premium quality leash and go out with your dog every day. The best leashes for beginners are the retractable leashes because they’re easier to control. The TUG Dog Leash is an excellent model for dogs of all sizes. Click to view pricing here.

Final Thoughts

So, this is what means when a dog will not look you in the eye. It’s important to know if he’s avoiding eye contact completely, or if he looks you in the eye but only for a short period. Just keep in mind that most of the time it’s just out of respect, so there’s nothing to worry about.


As a kid, J. Cesar has always dreamed of becoming Dr. Dolittle. When he isn't writing, you can find him supporting his favorite football team or eating ice cream with his best dog-friend by his side. Linkedin Profile, My Website

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