If you’re a dog owner, then you’ve been in this situation before: you let your dog out for a toilet break, watching him sniff away happily in his garden. Then, all of a sudden, it happens.
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 behaviour:
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.
Your dog is looking for a reward
Again, 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.
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, they’re essentially making sure that you have their back. They’re 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, you should actually be flattered, because it means that your dog trusts you! He believes that you will warn him if danger is on the horizon, and maybe even that you’ll jump in to protect him if need be.
The dog's body languageHow to fix separation anxiety in dogs
The dog's body languageHow does a dog use its tail to communicate with other dogs and humans?