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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just wondering because quite a few people working in the pet industry told me that I shouldn't look at my dog in the eyes and it stresses her. However, I suspect my dog enjoys eye contact with me as I do. Sometimes, she even wags her tail when we share an eye contact if I haven't been paying her attention for a long time. She doesn't look away when we have an eye contact and doesn't look scared to me. Sometimes when we have an eye contact and I smile (90% of the times lol), she would run towards me trying to get scratches or trying to initiate play.

What do you guys think?

EDIT: FYI for context, she really hates prolonged eye contact from strangers though. She would sometimes lunge and bark at people who stare at her explicitly while approaching us. I guess the better title is "Is eye contact from owner really threatening to our dogs?".
 

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I think they're smart enough to know the difference between when you're happy or mad! Gandalf makes eye contact with me all the time, and doesn't shy away especially when we're training he looks for it. However, occasionally he will sneak over to the dinner table to look for food but all I have to do is give him stern eye contact and he visibly backs off and lays down. My guy definitely knows what a smile or a laugh is too and you can see his tail wag in response :) . My aunt had an aggressive rottie who if you gave it even a second of eye contact would be on you in attack mode, whenever we entered her house we had to be head down and couldn't look up... I guess it saw eye contact as a challenge.
 

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It's a challenge to stare into their eyes. I wouldn't advise doing it with a strange dog. With your own, it's proven that they watch our faces to interact with us. Think of it this way, if a stranger stared you down, you would either retreat, avoid or confront. If your mom did, you would interact with her in a positive way.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think they're smart enough to know the difference between when you're happy or mad! Gandalf makes eye contact with me all the time, and doesn't shy away especially when we're training he looks for it. However, occasionally he will sneak over to the dinner table to look for food but all I have to do is give him stern eye contact and he visibly backs off and lays down. My guy definitely knows what a smile or a laugh is too and you can see his tail wag in response :) . My aunt had an aggressive rottie who if you gave it even a second of eye contact would be on you in attack mode, whenever we entered her house we had to be head down and couldn't look up... I guess it saw eye contact as a challenge.
Thanks for sharing your experience. BTW out of curiosity, does that rottie also hate eye contact with your aunt too?
 

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Thanks for sharing your experience. BTW out of curiosity, does that rottie also hate eye contact with your aunt too?
Nope my aunt could look at the dog just fine along with other people it trusted like my grandma. We only see my aunt once a year since she lives far away so we are pretty much like strangers to the dog.

My dog is a weirdo, up until maybe a month ago if a stranger was staring at him he would get so excited and wiggly and stare them down waiting for them to pet him. Lord help us if they said "CUTE". He finally has calmed down a bit now so when people stare he just stares back with lovey eyes :|
 

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Just wondering because quite a few people working in the pet industry told me that I shouldn't look at my dog in the eyes and it stresses her. However, I suspect my dog enjoys eye contact with me as I do. Sometimes, she even wags her tail when we share an eye contact if I haven't been paying her attention for a long time. She doesn't look away when we have an eye contact and doesn't look scared to me. Sometimes when we have an eye contact and I smile (90% of the times lol), she would run towards me trying to get scratches or trying to initiate play.

What do you guys think?

EDIT: FYI for context, she really hates eye contact from strangers though. She would sometimes lunge and bark at people who stare at her explicitly while approaching us.
I think it depends on the dog. I think an insecure dog could definitely take it as a threat but I also think so dogs take it as a challenge. Sabi used to stare into my eyes like she was trying to do a mind meld, lol. I had to work, really hard to get Shadow to even look at my face and Bud would definitely tense if strangers stared at him.
 

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From my experience, my dogs don't mind eye contact with close family. Just not prolonged. Last time I tested contact with Dognition, the dog held the stare longer than I wanted to!

I would not hold a direct stare with a strange dog, just in case they don't like it. No need to cause a problem.
 

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Karlo has one eye on me all the time. We make eye contact often.
Eye contact does have merit....and also can be a threat. When we do IPO and the helper makes eye contact with the dog, it is a challenge to the dog. Being neutral is important and the eye contact plays a part in it.
When training, there is a debate about the handler or helper wearing sunglasses, no eye contact can also be confusing to the dog.
Dogs that have no relationship with the 'eye contacter' will most definitely be put on edge if it is in a way where there are no manners.
 
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Thanks for clearing my doubts guys, sounds like all of you have great relationships with your dogs! I love eye contact with my dog, and it is hard to avoid it anyway since whenever I look at her, she is most likely already looking at me. Good to know I can continue looking her in the eyes and smile:)
 

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With your dog it's bonding experience. With other dog it's threating thing.




Oxytocin, aka the "cuddle chemical," is a hormone mammals produce in the brain that encourages bonding between mothers and their offspring. In the first experiment, the researchers measured oxytocin levels in 28 pairs of dogs and their humans before watching them interact for 30 minutes. People talked, petted and looked at their canines. Afterward, the researchers screened oxytocin levels again. The owners and pups that gazed at one another more showed increased oxytocin. Humans “use eye gaze for affiliative communications and [are] very much sensitive to eye contact,” said Kikusui. “Gaze, in particular, (over touch, for example) led to the release of oxytocin.” What’s more: Wolves, which dogs descended from about 30,000 years ago, do not experience an increase in oxytocin from gaze.

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Staring can be seen as a threat – challenging. For this reason many unsure dogs can find direct eye contact uncomfortable, and people with any knowledge of a dog’s body language will avoid direct eye contact or even, to make him feel more at ease with us, we quite deliberately look away when a dog is staring at us.
 

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When training, there is a debate about the handler or helper wearing sunglasses, no eye contact can also be confusing to the dog.
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It is an advantage to let the dog get as much information from our body language as possible and that of course includes our eyes. But some of us have to wear sunglasses. At that point the debate ends, but sometimes I do lift the shades to give the dogs a glace..and they are usually glancing back.
 

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I use eye contact with my dogs all the time, it is a bonding experience and also part of engagement with training.

Most dogs do not want eye contact from a stranger, and for an insecure or suspicious dog eye contact from a stranger or a strange dog is a threat that the dog may respond to with aggression. Someone with experience can see the change from 'soft eyes' to 'hard eyes' (to a perceived or real threat). My dogs' eyes are always soft when we make eye contact. Or maybe intense (but not hard) if we are training... which is a different situation than just hanging out.

There are many crucial differences between wolves and domestic dogs. The eye contact is one important difference. The other study I found interesting was that dogs respond to human pointing, and wolves do not.

Dogs are forever somewhat juvenile in behaviors (some more than others). But isn't it amazing how dogs pay attention to us, find joy in gazing into our eyes, and want to work with us? No other species wants so badly to interact with people, and it is such an abuse of this trust when we do not honor the bond from our end.
 

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My oldest is very sensitive to eye contact.

She doesn't like to directly stare at me, even during training. She will have very soft eyes, and switch between my eyes and the side of my face.

Other people or dogs who hard stare at her piss her off.
 
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