Why Won’t My Dog Look At Me?

Dogs are our best friends, following us around wherever we go and begging to jump into our laps during movie night to cuddle and steal our popcorn.

However, this can quickly devolve into avoidance of eye contact, pulling you into an endless cycle of worrying about what you must have done to your dog. 

Dogs, while joyful, may misunderstand you. Perhaps you’ve had to discipline your dog, making him upset with you, for example.

Because this is a problem, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why your dog might be behaving this way and how you can stop it.

5 Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Look at You

1: Your dog is stressed

The first and most obvious reason for your dog not looking at you is that he is probably stressed. Dogs, like humans, experience stress

Even minor events such as climate change, new noises, interruptions in their daily routine, or an unannounced outsider in the house can cause stress. 

When your dog is stressed, he will often look in the opposite direction. This is referred to as “Avoidance” behavior. 

Fortunately, if addressed promptly, these fears can be alleviated and easily managed. However, if the stressor persists or worsens, the dog simply becomes more restless. 

This will cause him to self-isolate. To avoid further conflicts, the stressed dogs prefer to remain in isolation. 

Your dog may stop interacting with members of your family, including you. In addition, he will avoid making eye contact with others and will be uninterested in play activities.

2: Your dog feels guilty

If your dog normally looks at you but then stops visually connecting with you, he or she may be regretful or guilty of something.

As dog parents, we can all relate to how much of a mess our dogs can make when we are not present. 

If the dog is afraid of getting into trouble for doing something naughty, he may avoid looking you in the eyes. He may also try to avoid coming into contact with you. 

Dr. Mary R. Burch, an applied creature behaviorist, suggests that when a dog appears guilty for an activity, such as biting or making a mess, he begins to avoid looking at the owner. 

As a consequence, if the dog has done something wrong, he may be fleeing from you. 

You should look for other symptoms, such as your various submissive gestures like tail-tucking. This characteristic indicates that your dog is apologizing.

3: Your dog is fearful

If your new dog was rescued from a shelter or previously lived with another owner, he may avoid looking at you. There could be two possible explanations. 

First, due to previous traumas, the dog is anxious and fearful of human interaction. The second reason could be you. So, yes, the dog may be afraid of you. 

If you’ve been the dog’s caregiver since an early age and he’s stopped looking at you, he’s had a bad experience with you. 

There are times when dog owners become exhausted and frustrated. In addition, our altered behavior may frighten the dog, and he may attempt to avoid us. 

Additionally, if your dog notices you shouting at someone else, he may develop a negative association. 

The dog’s negative image of the owner will prevent him from even looking at them. Like humans, they have a tendency not to look at someone they don’t like.

4: Your dog is being submissive

Another exceptionally rare reason for not looking at you could be your dog’s submissive behavior. If your dog is submissive, he will never look you in the eyes. 

To confirm this, look for additional changes, such as the dog moving away from you, shrinking himself, and hiding his tail. 

This may seem strange and novel to you, but it does happen with dogs. Our dogs may develop the impression that the owner is his leader, providing them with security and shelter. 

However, a few dog breeds exhibit submissive behavior when they feel threatened or undermined. 

You shouldn’t be worried if your dog has stopped looking at you because he is submissive. Submissive behavior in a dog is a common response likely prompted by his honor for you.

5: Your dog’s age may be a factor

If your canine friend is still a pup, he may be going through a frightening period. So don’t be concerned because it is normal for young pups to experience anxiety as their brains develop. 

This phase of not making eye contact with you may occur when your puppy is between 8 and 12 weeks. Another period occurs when the dog is 5 or 6 months old. 

Depending on your dog’s breed and bloodlines, he or she may have more or fewer fear periods. Try not to be alarmed; simply allow your dog to go through this stage. 

You may need to refrain from forcing your pup into a new location until he has returned to his usual behavior. 

If your dog has aged and has stopped looking at you, you should look into it further. 

As dogs get older, they sometimes prefer to be alone and spend less time with their owners. So if the dog isn’t looking at you, it could be a sign that he doesn’t want to interact with you.

A Few Steps To Take

Train your dog

The best time to train a dog how to relate visually is when they are a puppy. However, if your dog suddenly stops making eye contact, here are some basic steps to teach him how to do so. 

Place a leash on your dog and bring along a bag of treats. Stay still and wait for your dog to look at you. Give the dog a treat when he looks at you. 

Begin adding “look” as a signal for your dog once he begins visually connecting through verbal prompts. 

As your dog moves his gaze toward you, say “look” at the same time. 

Play this game in different areas where your dog may encounter more interruptions.

Show patience toward your dog

You must understand that this is a difficult time not only for you but also for your dog. Because of this, what he needs most right now is your support. 

However, yelling at your dog or forcing him to make eye contact can aggravate the situation. Throughout this time, you must remain patient and calm. 

Make an effort to connect with your dog and assure him that he is not alone in this situation. 

Dogs notice their parents’ small gestures and changes in tone because they are so attached to them.

You must remain in control of your nerves while the dog is being trained or examined by the veterinarian.

Get help for your dog

If your dog has been trained but still does not make eye contact with you, another choice is to seek help from a vet or a dog behaviorist. 

Get your dog’s health evaluated by a veterinarian. There could be no major reason, or your dog could be suffering from a medical/health issue. 

No matter how many dog books you’ve read or researched on the internet, seek the advice of a professional. 

The ideal veterinarian is well-versed in your dog’s medical history.

Takeaway

Your dog will frequently look in the opposite direction for a variety of reasons. 

Some of these reasons include your dog is stressed, afraid, submissive, guilty, or simply his age. 

Keep a close watch on your dog’s other behaviors and compare them to symptoms of anything that may help you understand this reluctance.



Written by Brian Rucker

Brian Rucker has been a dog lover since childhood. He has had his Lab Mix with Hound for over 10+ years now! They enjoy playing outdoors together. Brian loves sharing his knowledge about all things dog on this website. Read more of Brian's articles.