Eye contact plays a huge role in both humans and dogs. In fact, research shows that more than 80% of communication is nonverbal. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Well, one of the ways of communicating without words is through staring behavior. Just so it happens that German Shepherds are very good at this!
Some dogs are naturally more curious and observant than others and this type of behavior is very common in many other dog breeds such as Beagles, Siberian Huskies, Dachshunds, and French Bulldogs.
And believe me, they all have very good reasons to stare at their owners!
Why does my German Shepherd stare at me? Could it be that he likes me so much, or he wants to attack me? Is this type of behavior a good or a bad thing?
Let’s clear all of this up and find out the 15 reasons why your GSD is staring at you!
Why Does My German Shepherd Stare At Me?
German Shepherds, like most dogs, often use staring as a way to communicate their needs and wants to their owners or other people. These needs can range from something as simple as wanting food or attention, to more complex needs such as wanting to go outside, cuddle or play.
On the flip side, dog staring can be a sign of troublesome behavioral issues such as resource guarding, establishing dominance, and intimidating a person or another animal.
There are a number of reasons behind this type of behavior and some of them are unfortunately linked to aggression in the German Shepherd breed.
It is important to take into consideration your dog’s overall body language to determine how exactly he is feeling and what his intentions are.
Here are a couple of possible reasons for staring behavior in GSDs that you may find helpful in solving this eye-catching mystery!
1. Attention Seeking
Like many other breeds, German Shepherds often look to their owners for cues and attention.
Your dog staring at you is most likely seeking attention and wanting lots of cuddles. He may also feel a bit bored, so the first person to look for is you!
If your GSD is staring at you and you are unsure of what it wants, try giving him some attention and I am sure that you will see changes in his behavior — starting from changes in the tail position, body stance, ear position, and a few barks here and there.
2. Waiting For You
A German Shepherd may stare at you after you’ve come back home from work. He may also stare at you if you were out for 5 minutes without him! This way he is showing you his anticipation and excitement.
You may also notice your GSD staring at you when you are outside, in the dog park, or at a store like TJ Maxx. He is probably telling you: “Hurry up with whatever you are doing and look at me!”
So, enough with the small talk with your friend Alice from work, your German Shepherd has places to be!
3. Observing You
We are all used to being observers, but when we are the ones being observed, we may feel a bit…weird.
Why does my German Shepherd watch my every move? Is he observing my behavior or do I have something on my face?
There are so many questions, but not enough answers. German Shepherd dogs simply indulge in their “human observing behavior” as they wander off probably thinking how beautiful their owner is. You may even notice them tilting their head in awe!
Some GSDs may be trying to understand their owner’s routines, habits, and moods, while others may stare as a way of learning more about their favorite human.
4. Showing Affection
How do you know if a German Shepherd likes you? Oh, just look at the way his puppy eyes are staring at you! There’s the answer for you!
German Shepherds can express a so-called “soft gaze” or “eye lock” which is a positive sign! Your dog is trying to tell you that you two have the best relationship ever!
You see, showing affection is common in GSD pups that have a strong bond with their owner, and it can be a sign of trust, love, and loyalty.
Ugh, it is impossible to resist the mesmerizing eyes of the German Shepherd breed!
5. Waiting For Food
Your GSD is staring at you and you are probably wondering “What does my dog want when he stares at me?”
Yeah, he probably wants food. No, he surely wants food.
Even though German Shepherds are not dogs that drool too often, you will definitely notice excessive drooling and a begging stare when your pup is waiting for yummy food or treats!
He may even breathe faster as a way of showing excitement for the food he’s about to get! Trust me, there are no home remedies for this type of dog drooling!
6. Waiting For Walkies
“Honey, did you take the dog out for a walk today?“
“No, I thought you were taking him out today!”
Let’s face it, we have all been in this situation at some point of our lives as dog parents.
Your dog stares at you with those adorable, sparkling eyes, you see him with his happy feet pacing all over the place, wagging his tail faster than ever, taking his leash, and even barking at nothing!
All of this calls for a good afternoon walk and bonding time! Not only does your German Shepherd need enough exercise to keep the zoomies away, but it also needs to go potty! And he’s trying to tell you that by staring at you.
7. Asking For Help
Our German Shepherd doggies get into some tricky situations on a daily basis. They often require assistance from their human companions to navigate these situations. They may whine, stare, and bark at you as a way to establish communication.
I mean, not like we understand their barking anyway! But, we can understand their adorable gaze and the overall body language.
I’ve seen pet parents have their GSD stand in front of a glass door, not knowing how to get outside. As their dog couldn’t solve this problem on his own, he stared at them to ask for help opening the door!
8. Showing Signs Of Fear And Stress
What does it mean when my German shepherd stares at me?
When he’s feeling under the weather, your pup may stare at you out of fear, frustration, anxiety, or stress.
It is important to help you pooch chill out and get his usual mood back on. Try indulging in your favorite mutual activities such as playing fetch, brush your GSD pup, cuddling, playing hide and seek, and so on.
All of these activities have one thing in common — looking each other in the eye. This type of social bonding releases oxytocin in your dog’s brain, a hormone no other than the love hormone! You’ll see that tail wag in no time!
9. Establishing Dominance
What is the German shepherd’s intention when they stare at you? Perhaps it is to show you who’s the boss!
This type of stare is different from the “soft gaze” we talked about earlier. This is a type of stare that is more intense, persistent, and may even evolve into aggressive behavior.
However, not all canines show dominant behavior in this matter. Some may jump and sit on you, use your bed instead of their dog bed, and so on.
Both male and female GSDs are capable of showing dominant behavior towards their owners. This unwanted behavior should be corrected as soon as you notice your puppy doing it.
Putting yourself as the alpha leader of the pack will surely teach your new puppy that he’s not the boss in this house!
10. Threatening You
If your GSD is staring at you in an intense manner (hard stare and stiff body), it may be a sign that he is feeling threatened or is about to become aggressive.
Some of them may even want to nibble on you as a way of inviting you to a duel. Do not confuse teething in German Shepherd pups as a threatening behavior! But, if this continues after puppyhood, you may need a dog trainer to help you out.
11. Was Trained To Stare At You
Depending on the German Shepherd type, you may own a pup that was actually trained to stare at you. It may sound odd, but when you remember that these dogs are super-trainable and capable of performing any given task, staring on command seems like a piece of cake.
Now, you may be thinking what’s the purpose of training a GSD to stare on command. Of course, you and your pup can show off this cool skill to everyone, it’s a good conversation starter! However, this type of dog training is often used in service or therapy work.
But did you know that training your hyper German Shepherd dog to stare at command can actually make him calmer?
Depending on your needs, you can use staring at command as a useful tool for GSD obedience training, where you teach him to learn to focus and pay attention to your commands.
12. Experiencing Age-Related Changes
All dogs get old and just like people, they experience certain age-related changes. Even if you have a dog that looks like a German Shepherd, it may develop senior dog problems such as impaired vision or deafness.
A partial or complete hearing loss definitely makes a change in dog-to-person and dog-to-dog communication. While dogs can happily live with it, you may have to adjust to reading their needs as they can’t hear you.
13. Showing Signs Of Separation Anxiety
The “separation anxiety stare” is often seen when dogs are left alone for extended periods of time, such as when their owners are away at work or running errands.
Make sure to walk your dog as often as you can, because this activity is both relaxing and comforting for the two of you!
If you’re away for a long time, your German Shepherd may find comfort in your cat and smother her with cuddles!
14. Showing Signs Of Health Issues
A German Shepherd dog that is constantly staring at a person, or more often an object, may be showing signs of health issues. In some cases, dogs stare at blank spaces for long periods of time, which usually calls for a vet check-up.
If your GSD is staring at you because of a certain health problem, then you might want to see which health conditions can be to blame:
15. Feeling Guilty
Oh, I know that you know about this dog stare. Did your German Shepherd just devour that roll of toilet paper and left it all over the bathroom? Yeah, I thought so — you can see guilt in his eyes!
You may notice that your GSD is staring at you and showing behavioral signs such as a lowered head, tail tucked between the legs, ears back, and avoiding eye contact.
We like to describe this as feeling guilty, but the truth is, dogs can’t feel guilt! They do not possess the cognitive ability to understand the concept of guilt or shame like humans do.
Instead, your dog is showing submissive behavior because he feels that you are probably upset and may have raised the tone of your voice.
German Shepherd Signs Of Aggression
GSDs are often described as one of the most aggressive dog breeds, but we all know that isn’t quite true. Yes, they can be aggressive and protective, but when trained properly, they do not pose any danger to anyone (except to bad guys).
Staring is one of German Shepherd body language signs that needs to be addressed when approaching the dog. It tells a lot about his current emotional state that every dog lover should be able to read.
Resource guarding in German Shepherds is when they become super-possessive and overly-protective of their food, toys, people, or dog beds.
More often than not, this is displayed as an aggressive type of behavior that all dog breeds show.
It can range from mild, such as a German Shepherd growling and staring aggressively when someone gets too close to their food bowl, to severe actions, such as him biting anyone who gets close to or tries to take an item away.
This is something that you might want to resolve with a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist.
The situation is tense!
Stiff body, along with a hard stare and stiff tail is never a good sign in the canine world. What it means is “I’m alert, anxious, and perhaps angry”.
When a German Shepherd is exhibiting this posture, many may think that it is about to attack its owner. While it may be one of the possibilities, it is important to give the dog some space.
It is also recommended to avoid eye contact and not to intimidate the dog any further.
Often described as “aggressive stare”, the hard stare is common in all dogs, especially GSDs. Dog behaviorists explain it as a sign of aggression and frustration.
It is very intimidating when a giant German Shepherd is staring at you without blinking once!
What To Do When A German Shepherd Stares At You?
Should I stare back at my dog?
Most German Shepherds that aggressively stare at their owners, other people or animals may be suffering from an underlying behavioral issue.
In other words, untrained GSDs will show this type of behavior because their current or previous owner did not train them well. Behavioral issues such as this should be handled by an expert dog trainer or behaviorist.
If you find yourself in this uncomfortable situation, there are several ways both of you can resolve this issue without getting mentally and physically hurt.
Do Not Stare Back
If a German Shepherd dog is staring at you in a threatening manner, it’s important to remain calm and not to stare back at the dog.
Instead, take a deep breath and try to slowly and calmly move away from the dog, avoiding direct eye contact.
Do Not Turn Your Back
Dogs are pack animals and their general rule is “the more dominant you are, the higher you are in hierarchy.”
Naturally, turning your back to the German Shepherd can be perceived as a sign of weakness, and may trigger a predatory response from the dog.
Keep your head facing forward and move side-ways, rather than turning your back. Try to slowly and calmly move away from the dog, while maintaining a neutral body posture.
Make sure to take small, slow steps to move away from the German Shepherd. Avoid moving suddenly or making noise as that can additionally startle the dog.
You will want to put some distance between you and the German Shepherd dog that is threatening you with its hard stare.
If the dog is on a leash, move back without turning your back on the dog, and assure a safe distance between you two. Again, you probably won’t have to do this with a well-trained GSD.
It’s important to remember that any German Shepherd can bite, regardless of its type and size. So, it is best for you to stay on the side of caution and avoid any dog that you feel uncomfortable with.
It’s also important that you know how to read a dog’s body language and to approach him properly, all in order to avoid any potential confrontation.
A German Shepherd dog staring at you can be interpreted in many ways, and the meaning behind the stare can vary depending on the individual dog and the context of the situation.
Therefore, it is important to remember that all dogs are individuals and they may have different ways of communicating.
In order to establish a healthy and wholesome relationship, it is very important to understand your dog’s specific communication style.
So, when you ask yourself the common question “Why does my German Shepherd stare at me?”, make sure to pay attention to the context in which the staring is occurring to understand the whole message.