Tell me more about my eyes: Understand a dogs expression

dog eye expressions

Understanding a dogs eye expression: Did you know that as a dog, I can vary the shape of my eyes? I can also narrow or expand my eyes as well. I also like moving my eyes in different directions and the intensity of my gaze.  Now I only do these things to express how I am viewing the world and how I feel.

A portrait of a Beagle puppy.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I am relaxed and happy, my eyes will be in there natural beautiful shape.  However if you see my eyes looking larger than normal, it usually means that I feel a little threatened. Now this could be that I am stressed by something or even frightened! An aggressive dog is also likely to have eyes that look larger than normal.

If you ever see me squinting it could mean that there is the sun in my eyes, but if that is not the case, it could mean that I am not feeling well or maybe even in pain.

The whites of a dog’s eyes is a very different frame of mind. Sometimes, the whites are visible just incidentally–for instance, a resting dog may not move his head to look at whatever’s caught his interest.

However, If your dog doesn’t look directly at you, but instead looks out of the corners of their eyes so that you see a good deal of the whites of their eyes , they might be leading up to an aggressive outburst. You might see this when a dog is guarding a chew bone, toy, favorite spot or person.

Blue merle Border Collie pup at 15 weeks start...

15 weeks starting to use the eye. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The direction of my gaze can also give you clues on how I am feeling. We dogs never look directly into each other’s eyes, due to we think it’s  rude treatening behavior. Yet we do like staring at you, in fact we learn that it’s okay, even sweet to look directly at people. If I look at you with my face  relaxed it means that I am be friendly and hoping you’ll notice me. However if I am staring at you,looking tense, I am basically saying I think you are a treat to me. If this happens to you with a dog in close proximity and you do not know him… I’d suggest that you slowly look away. Looking away is what we dogs do when we do not want to appear threatening.

If you see a dog who averts their gaze when you look at them, it’s a sign that he’s submissive and perhaps a little worried about interacting with you. Now this could be a dog who is just shy around people, or even scared of people. So be gentle when you meet this kind of dog and give words of encouragement to make them feel confident.

Canis lupus Deutsch: Wolf English: Gray wolf. ...

Kurt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people agree that we dogs are descendents of the wolf. We both have similar trains.

For example:

  • We are both pack oriented
  • we prefer not to be isolated for long periods of time.
  • We both look to a leader (Alpha) for direction.
  • Dog and Wolf both communicate through body language, not only with our pack but with outsiders too

Every pack has an Alpha figure. As a dog owner, I expect that to be you. Now if I do not receive the proper training and guidance, I might very well replace you as Alpha.  Now this could become a nightmare and would be a serious problem to everyone. It is also a disservice to us dogs, living with humans, other dogs, and other animals. How am I suppose to know how to behave?

What to do?

Well eye contact  is the one way the Alpha wolf keeps order within his pack. You are my Alpha dog, and I want you to look into my very adorable eyes. You should start doing this when I am just a pup,  and obviously your pup will have to look at you. Start by making eye contact with a gentle and not threating look for about five to ten seconds at a time. If you have to hold your puppies head, that’s okay. You can even give your puppy a treat as a reward. Later, if your puppy has been naughty…it is permissible to give a long, penetrating look. Trust me, your puppy will get it!

note: Some dogs never got this important training and now can’t even accept eye contact. You should avoid eye contact with these dogs since it makes them feel threatened and they could lash out.

  • Signs of submission – avoids eye contact
  • Signs of dominance –  makes hard eye contact.