According to experts, dogs might stare at you while pooping because they’re attempting to communicate, or it might be a defensive move to stay alert against any potential attacks, a behavior that lingers from their days as hunters.
There’s no denying that dogs are adorable, but they are just as weird as they are cute. One weird and frankly unnerving thing that dogs do is maintain eye contact in even the most awkward situations, such as when they’re squatting to do their business. What makes it worse is that this literal shit stare isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an everyday occurrence.
So, why do dogs stare right at us when they’re pooping? Let’s find out!
A Staring Game
Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
It turns out that dogs actually stare at humans quite a lot in general! Think about it… as we go about our day, most of us have caught our pups quietly peeping at us. The only difference is that we’re more accustomed to their stares in seemingly safe and predictable situations.
All that staring doesn’t mean your pup is a serial killer; it’s just a normal part of being a dog. Dogs have been living with us for centuries, and over time they’ve figured out how to read our emotions just by looking at us. By analyzing everything from our voice to our facial expressions, and of course, our scent, dogs use a whole range cues to pick up on their humans’ moods. Basically, your pup is just trying to figure out how you’re feeling.
It’s All About Communication
Dogs can’t speak. Well, technically, they can talk to other dogs, but they can’t communicate with us as effectively as they’d like to. Fortunately, they have figured out a few tricks across the nearly 30,000-year history we share with them.
For example, hungry dogs will look at us quite intently, often while sitting in the place where we generally serve them their meals. Similarly, when they want our attention, they’re known to adorably “boop” or nudge us with their snouts.
According to Stephanie Gibeault, a certified dog trainer and contributor to the American Kennel Club, if you’ve trained your pup with positive reinforcement, and doted out verbal rewards or tasty treats once they’ve done their business in the right place, or even if you just generally give them treats for good behavior, then your dog will likely stare at you every time they do that “thing”, because they’re eagerly anticipating your praise (or a treat).
A Defensive Move
Dogs are social creatures. Even in the wild, their counterparts, wolves, live in large groups (called packs) that can have as many as nine to fifteen members.
Modern-day dogs still have that “pack” mentality. To your pup, you’re part of their pack! Why is that important? Well, being in a “pack” gives your dog an additional sense of security. Animals that live together, whether in large or small groups, have the added benefit of always having a few members designated to keep an eye out. This helps them stay safe and sound, and gives them all a better chance of survival.
This is especially useful in vulnerable situations when certain animals in a group may have their guard down. For example, most ambush predators, like crocodiles or tigers, sneak up on their prey when they’re not expecting an attack. Think about wildebeest sipping water from a lake or deer busy foraging and eating.
In both of these instances, there are always a few members of the herd keeping a lookout for predators lurking nearby.
The same idea applies to domestic modern-day dogs.
Even Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass, a veterinarian contributor for PetMD, agrees that when dogs need to poop, whether indoors or outdoors, they are acutely aware that they’re in a vulnerable position and are basically trusting you, their owner, to keep a lookout for immediate danger in their surroundings.
If you were hoping for an article that would solve this quirky little problem, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Modern-day dogs may depend on humans for food and shelter, but they’re unable to shake off some of their wild instincts. In essence, it’s still all about survival for these pooping pups.
Funnily enough, dogs follow us to the bathroom for the same reason they stare at us while they poop. When you’re on the can, your dog will stand by you because they think you’re in a vulnerable position, so they keep a look out while you go about your business!
How well do you understand the article above!
References (click to expand)
- Why do animals do what they do? Part 2: A herd is good. Michigan State University
- Why Does My Dog Stare at Me? - PetMD. petmd.com
- Why Does My Dog Stare At Me? - American Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club
- Why Dogs Touch Noses: Communication and More. Psychology Today
- Siniscalchi, M., d’Ingeo, S., Minunno, M., & Quaranta, A. (2018, July 31). Communication in Dogs. Animals. MDPI AG.