Why your dog stares at you while pooping
Dog owners know the scene: you let your dog out for a toilet break, watch him sniff happily in his garden. Then, all of a sudden, it happens.
Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:32
Your dog squats and starts to poop. And while doing so, he locks eyes with yours, refusing to break eye contact until he is done. And then, it’s all back to normal.
Why do dogs do this? It seems like a strange behaviour to us humans - we certainly wouldn’t want to lock eyes with anyone when we go to the bathroom. But for dogs, it’s perfectly natural. In fact, several theories have been suggested to explain this question - why does my dog look at me when pooping?
Your dog is looking for a reward
If you’ve house-trained your dog and have rewarded him in the past for toileting in the proper place, it may be that your dog remembers this. Now, when he poops where he knows he’s supposed to, he looks at you, expecting a reward. He’s just squatting, waiting for your ‘good dog!’ signal to occur.
Your dog is looking for protection
This is the most common theory to explain why dogs stare at their owners while they poop. It relates to their wild ancestors’ instinct to always be on the lookout for danger. Indeed, when dogs poop, they put themselves in quite a vulnerable position. Their awkward posture means they’re not in optimal conditions to fight or flee if they feel threatened by something. So by looking at you, perhaps they are essentially making sure that you have their back. They’re certainly analysing your behaviour - you can guarantee that if you jumped back at any point during your dog’s poo break, they would get startled too (don’t try this though)!
And though it may feel a little uncomfortable, maybe you could actually feel flattered, because it might even mean that your dog is hoping you will save him from potential dangers (yes, even in the back garden). It may or may not be true, but it might save you feeling quite so embarrassed.
Your dog is looking for approval
Chances are you’ve had to house-train your dog. If you’ve ever punished your dog for defecating in the wrong place, this could’ve caused some anxiety in your pooch. Now when he poops, he looks at you to make sure you accept his choice of toileting area.
Do dogs get embarrassed when they poop?
First of all you’d have to assume that dogs feel embarrassment, or mind pooping, which is unlikely (or at least, untested). However all the facial expressions and body language signals you are seeing might indicate that the dog is not overly confident, or they are concentrating, or something else! It’s probably us humans that feel more embarrassed.
Why do dogs look for a place to poop?
Dogs are largely scent driven, so their place to poop can depend on lots of factors that are more important to them than to us humans. Safety, not putting themselves into a vulnerable position, a preferred surface underfoot (often absorbent such as grass, or carpet) will make all the difference to where they choose.