After a long day at work, you come home wanting to enjoy your dinner in peace. You greet your dog, freshen up and sit down with a big juicy sandwich for dinner. You start eating but feel someone’s eyes on you.
If you are an experienced pet owner, you are aware that your dog is staring at you. But, if it is your first pet, those big needy eyes staring right into your soul can be uncomfortable. As a result, you may feel awkward eating and even feel guilty and giving the dog a piece of your dinner.
Human food can be hard on your dog’s stomach. It could upset your pooch’s stomach. Some food items can even be toxic for canines. And so you should not be feeding human food.
So if you are wondering why my dog stare at me when I eat, the reason could be your dog is hungry, wants the food on your plate, or you have encouraged the behavior over time.
The article will explore possible reasons for such behavior and examine techniques that can discourage the dog from staring at you while eating.
Why Does My Dog Stare at Me When I Eat?
Staring is a mode of communication for dogs. That is how they show affection or try to understand what you are up to.
Here we will look at why your dog stares at you specifically while eating.
1. The Behavior is Natural and Instinctual
It might be hard to imagine, but the joyous, affectionate, cuddly ball of fur you are a parent to have wild dogs for its ancestors. These wild dogs lived in packs. Every pack had a leader whose authority had to be respected, or the dogs could risk not being given food.
So, the pack members would stare at the leader when it ate its food. This is how the pack member showed they were hungry and hoped to get some food scraps.
If the dogs did not wait for their turn or showed insubordination, the pack leader would snap, bite, or even kill them.
So, the dog staring at you, expecting you to feed it some scraps, comes naturally to it. With training, though, you can stop such undesirable behaviors.
2. They Want the Food You are Eating
It is no doubt that most doggo enjoy eating food. Their sense of taste is not as developed as humans. However, they can still differentiate between primary flavors, letting them appreciate food. And as we know, food is also about how good it smells.
Dogs are much better in the smelling department than humans.
Some human foods are ok to give to dogs in moderation. For example, according to AKC, in moderation, you can provide human food like plain bread, cheese, corn, eggs, ham, honey, and peanut butter.
These foods are no doubt delicious. Once your dog gets a taste of these foods, it is bound to want them again in the future.
3. They Want to Share the Experience
Doggos love their human families. They want to be around them, please and share experiences with them. Coupling these traits with the prospect of tasty food makes your pet more motivated to take part.
You sit with your plate full of food in front of them and are happily munching on the food. They see you enjoying, and now they want to partake in the same experience. And the promise of getting some tasty table scraps is a bonus.
4. Your Dog is Hungry
If you have not fed your dog yet or the portion of food it eats is not enough, it will leave the dog hungry.
You bring out a piping hot plate of food that smells delicious in front of a hungry animal; what is it supposed to do? The dog intently staring at your food is one of the minor things it can do. If you continue to leave the dog hungry, it will start begging or sneaking food.
AKC recommends feeding the pet a minimum of two meals daily. If you are unsure about the meal frequency and quantity, the vet can help.
The feeding time also matters. For example, dogs usually get hungry in the morning. If you have a breakfast of bread, eggs, and bacon before feeding the dog, you will find the animal staring at you, drooling over the food.
5. It is Curious
You are sitting at a restaurant waiting to place your order or waiting for your food.
Mouth-watering dishes are being brought to tables around you. It is just human nature to be curious about what others are having. However, staring is impolite, so you will not spend your time looking at other people’s food.
But it is not the same for your dog. If it is curious, it will stare when you are eating.
The behavior can be more common in puppies. You might wonder why I am eating this hard food while my human eats this amazing-smelling food. What does my human have on his plate?
Dogs love food; when they see you have some, they will be curious to know what you are having. This can be anything from a big juicy steak or a vegetable sandwich to cookies.
6. It is a Learned Behavior
What did you do when the dog first stared at you while eating? Did you fall under the spell of those big puppy eyes and that droopy face? Did you cave in and feed the dog some food on your plate? If yes, then your behavior has trained the dog to act this way.
For dogs, the world is more white and black. The reaction it gets often influences its behavior.
For example, suppose the dog tries to sit on you at every opportunity. In that case, you get up or ignore the dog will discourage such behavior. But if you cuddle or pet the dog when it sits on you, it will continue with the behavior.
So, if the result of staring is food, it will continue with the behavior. Therefore, you are the one encouraging the behavior.
Here is another interesting tidbit for you. Dogs can use their ‘puppy dog eyes to get whatever they want from you. A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found dogs can manipulate. So do not be surprised if your dog uses its facial features to extract extra food from you.
7. Contradictory Behavior from Family Members
You unnecessarily do not feed your dog table scraps. But other family members give the dog table scraps and let it lick off their plates. Such contradictory behavior can confuse the pet.
As other family members encourage this behavior, the pet quickly learns that staring at you is enough to get some more free food. And as mentioned above, dogs can use their facial feature to influence their action.
If you are training the dog to behave a certain way, you will need the support of everyone in the house as the training needs to be consistent to stick.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Staring at Me When I Eat?
If the behavior does not faze you, please carry on enjoying your food. But, if you find eating in front of your dog uncomfortable, here are tips that can help.
1. Feed the Dog First
If your dog is full, the chances of being interested in your food could be less. But, of course, with food being a solid motivator for dogs, they may still hope to get some scraps from your plate even when they are full.
Plan the dog’s meals so it is always fed first. Some pet owners have found success using this trick. Even if this trick does not work for you, it is a good starting point to distract the dog from what you are eating.
2. Ignore the Dog
Staring is one of the communication methods used by dogs. It may be to get your attention or the food on your plate. So when you ignore the dog staring at you while eating, the ‘staring‘ does not bore a positive result for the pet.
Your dog will not like it if you start avoiding it. Did you know that if the dog has to choose between your food and you, the more likely winner would be you?
Dogs are people pleasers, so you can use this trait to curb undesirable behaviors.
3. Do Not Encourage the Behavior
Once you train the pet, you must maintain consistency in your behavior. This applies to other family members as well.
It can confuse the pet if one family member is feeding them table scraps. Another one commands it to go to a separate room or completely ignore it.
You must stay strong and not give in to those ‘puppy dog eyes.’ One night you ignore the dog, and the next, you cave into the dog’s staring. Such behavior on your end sends mixed signals to the dog.
4. Eat in a Separate Room
Establish clear boundaries with food. For example, feed the dog in a specific part of the house. That place can be the dog’s designated dining area. This way, the dog will learn to associate that area with food. Please do not feed the dog anywhere else in the house, even with treats.
If you eat in a separate room, the dog will know it will not get any scraps from your plate.
It may still stare at you; for example, if you are having a big juicy steak, you could eat in a separate room while someone keeps the pet distracted in another room. If you are alone, you can use chew toys and puzzles to keep the dog busy until you finish dinner.
What are Other Reasons for My Dog’s Staring?
Not all staring is terrible. Your dog is always curious to know what you are up to. Staring is one of its ways to understand its human parent.
Don’t you like looking at your favorite person in the world? You are that famous person for the dog. A study has found that staring into your furry friend’s eyes can release happy hormones into your body. So simply staring at your dog can make you happy. It is also one-way dogs show affection toward their human family.
Staring is a behavior dogs can show when they want something from you. For example, if it is time for a walk, the dog will bring its leash and stare at you, asking you to get up. Or, if it wants to play, it may bring its toys and stare at you to initiate play.
And sometimes, staring may mean that the dog wants your attention. The dog can be well-fed and exercised, but the dog may still want to spend quality time with you.
For example, breeds like Siberian Huskies can be big attention-seekers. They will use staring to have you all to themselves.
Read More About: Why Does My Dog Stare At Me When I Sleep?
Staring is the dog’s way of communicating with you. It may want to play, go for a walk, cuddle with you, or show us some affection. But if you are wondering why my dog stare at me when I eat, there can be several reasons for such behavior.
The behavior can be instinctual for the dog as wild dogs would stare at their pack leader eating, hoping to get food.
Your dog could be hungry, it may want the delicious looking and great smelling food on your plate, it could be plain curious, or you may have given into the dog’s stares and fed it scraps, encouraging the behavior.
To stop the behavior, you could learn to ignore the dog while eating, feed the dog first, eat in a separate room, and remain consistent with your training techniques.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.