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Why Is My Australian Shepherd Staring At Me? (Answered!)



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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It is a real shame dogs can’t talk. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be if these magnificent animals were able to tell us what they think and feel?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. However, our best friends have found different ways to connect with us, the humans.

While some are clumsier, certain breeds are pretty intelligent and know their way around us. Among those is the Australian Shepherd.

The Australian Shepherd communicates with humans using barking and body language. The Aussies are brilliant dogs. They know what they want, and they find ways to tell us.

You, as an owner, have to observe and listen. However, certain acts can mean more than one thing. In this article, we’re going to discuss the possible meaning of your Aussie staring at you.

Key Takeaway

  • Your Australian Shepherd may be staring at you to gather cues, show affection, or as a herding behavior to manage and control their ‘flock’.
  • Responding to your Australian Shepherd’s staring involves understanding their way of communication, providing them cues for what’s next, and ensuring they have adequate mental and physical stimulation.
  • Dog staring is crucial as it’s a way for dogs to communicate their needs, express affection, establish bonding, seek attention, and sometimes, convey aggression.

What is an Australian Shepherd?

The Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent and energetic dog breed known for its skills in herding and agility.

Originating from the United States, despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is a versatile breed popular for its work ethic and intelligence.

They are medium-sized dogs, typically weighing between 40 to 65 pounds, with a distinct merle or solid coat in a variety of colors.

Australian Shepherds have a strong herding instinct, which makes them excellent working dogs on farms and ranches.

They are also known for their agility and often excel in dog sports. Besides their physical abilities, these dogs are also recognized for their bright and friendly disposition.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Staring At Me?

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Staring At Me

Australian Shepherds often stare at their owners and other people. This is a part of their herding instinct, as they are trying to gauge the person’s movements and communicate with humans.

Often Australian Shepherds stare at their owners when they want something, when they want to confront it, when they are expressing love, when they feel confused, and when they are waiting for guidance.

It is up to you to figure out what the look means and act accordingly. Your pup is either asking or trying to tell you something.

I have done some research and consulted some vets and canine behaviorists. According to them, your Aussie staring at you might be caused by several different reasons. These are the most common things making your pup gawk at you:

1. The Australian Shepherd desires something

If your pet is looking at you while whining, it wants something. By this, the dog is trying to tell you what it wants. Of course, it is up to you to determine what it is.

This is the most obvious reason your Aussie is staring at you. Whether your dog is hungry, wants to go in the yard, or it’s something entirely else, it will gawk at you until it gets it.

Besides the eyes, canine behaviorists suggest that you also need to observe your Aussie’s tail, ears, and entire body posture. Pay attention to this behavior soon. If not, the whining will turn into barking.

Aussies are determined to get what they want. However, this stare might also mean that the dog asks if it can have the dinner leftovers. The Aussie shows submission and appreciation for the leader by gazing at you.

2. The Aussie wants to confront

If your Australian Shepherd gives you a stern look, and you can hear a growl simultaneously, then the dog is trying to confront you. There’s a reason your dog sees you or someone else as a possible threat.

Whether you’re trying to take something away, or there’s an outsider nearby, your Aussie will try and communicate that with you. Other signs that your dog feels threatened are a tucked tail, still posture, and a stiff body.

Aussies are not naturally aggressive. However, they were bred to be herding dogs. As such, they sometimes have to show dominance. That’s why it is essential to socialize these dogs as early as possible.

This kind of behavior will be minimalized with socialization. If your Aussie gives you this kind of look, you should retreat and leave the dog to cool off. Instead of confronting the pup, try to figure out the reason for its anger.

3. The Aussie Shepherd is expressing love

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Staring At Me

The Aussie is a beautiful dog. They possess two endless things: stamina and love. Your Australian Shepherd will love everybody in the household.

However, there will always be one special person in the dog’s heart. One actual owner, whom the Aussie will love unconditionally. If you are this person, the dog will follow you everywhere and try to please you in every possible way.

Aussies are very affectionate. Your dog will try to show you its love and gratitude in numerous ways. Whether it will hand you its favorite toy or cuddle with you on the couch, your pup will express its feelings.

One of the ways an Aussie tells you it loves you is by staring at you. Or, more specifically, gazing at your eyes. This look means the two of you have created a unique, unbreakable bond.

4. The Aussie is being confused

For your Aussie, you are the leader. These dogs observe, learn, and follow. So, naturally, when your Aussie feels confused, it will expect directions from you. Whether it was you that confused the dog, or something else, answers will be demanded.

If you give an unclear command or the dog can not understand what you’re looking for, it will provide you with a confused gaze. This kind of behavior is typical for old, forgetful Australian Shepherds.

If the dog’s head is tilted to the side and the ears are perked up while it’s gawking at you, there’s confusion in its mind. That means you’ll have to be concise and explain to the Aussie what’s expected of it.

These dogs are intelligent and will understand quickly. Bear in mind that confusion might be stressful for your pup. Try to resolve these issues as soon as you notice them.

5. The Aussie is waiting for guidance

This gazing reason is narrowly connected to the previous one. It also comes from the Aussie’s desire to work. These dogs are tireless. They thrive when a job is given to them. So, if this herding expert is staring at you, it might mean that the dog is trying to read your cues.

The Aussie always needs to do something. And who else is this lovely dog ask for a task, if not its leader?

You are the alpha in the eyes of your Aussie Shepherd. These dogs are obedient and learn commands quickly. Also, they’re brilliant and eager to learn. You will gain the dog’s trust if you establish yourself as a calm, firm leader.

There’s a special bond between the Aussie and its favorite human. The Aussie will follow your lead, whether you’re working or playing. So, a long, thirsty gaze at you might mean that the dog is waiting for guidance says Hills Pet.

How To Respond To Your Australian Shepherd’s Staring

Responding to your Australian Shepherd’s staring involves understanding their communication, providing them with cues, and ensuring they are mentally and physically stimulated.

Understanding Their Communication

Australian Shepherds stare as a form of communication. These intelligent dogs are often trying to understand what their owners want or expect from them.

They may be looking for cues about upcoming activities or changes in the environment. Additionally, their intense gaze can also be a display of affection or a way of seeking attention from their owners.

Providing Cues

Australian Shepherds are highly trainable and responsive to cues. When your dog stares at you, it might be waiting for a command or signal.

You can use this opportunity to give them instructions for tasks or tricks. Rewarding them when they respond correctly can reinforce this behavior and make your dog more responsive over time say AKC.

Ensuring Physical and Mental Stimulation

Given their herding background, Australian Shepherds have high energy levels and require plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation.

If your dog is staring at you, it might be a sign that they are bored and need some activity. Regular walks, play sessions, and puzzle toys can help keep them engaged and satisfied.

Dealing with Intense Staring

In some cases, Australian Shepherds may stare intensely due to their herding instincts. This behavior, known as “eye”, is used to control and move livestock.

If your dog’s staring becomes fixated or obsessive, redirecting their attention or providing them with appropriate outlets for their herding instincts can help manage this behavior.

The Importance of Dog Staring

Dog staring is important as it is a form of communication, used by dogs to express their needs, and feelings, or to understand their human cues.

Expression of Needs or Feelings

Dogs often use their gaze to express their needs or feelings. They might stare at their owners to signal that they’re hungry, want to play, or need to go outside.

Understanding this form of communication can help owners meet their dog’s needs promptly and effectively.

Understanding Human Cues

Dogs are known for their ability to read human emotions and intentions. By staring at their owners, dogs can pick up subtle cues about their owner’s mood or what might happen next.

This understanding helps dogs to react appropriately to their environment and strengthens the bond between them and their owners.

Training and Behavior

Staring plays a crucial role in training and behavior management. Dogs who maintain eye contact during training are more likely to be attentive and responsive to commands.

Furthermore, staring can indicate behavioral issues, such as aggression or fear, which may require intervention from the owner or a professional.

Bonding and Affection

Lastly, dogs often stare at their owners as a sign of love and affection.

This type of staring, accompanied by relaxed body language and a wagging tail, signifies a strong bond between the dog and their owner.

Recognizing and reciprocating this affection can further strengthen the relationship.


Q: Is staring at their owners a common behavior in Australian Shepherds?

A: Yes, many Australian Shepherds have a tendency to stare at their owners. This behavior is especially common in herding dogs like Aussies as they use their intense gaze to control and direct herds.

Q: What are the possible reasons behind my Aussie’s staring?

A: There can be multiple reasons why your Australian Shepherd is staring at you. It could be a sign of their strong bond with you, a request for attention or interaction, a way to show their loyalty, or simply because they find you interesting.

Q: Can staring at me be a sign of aggression in my Australian Shepherd?

A: Staring alone is not necessarily a sign of aggression in Australian Shepherds. However, it is important to consider other accompanying body language and context to accurately assess your dog’s behavior.

Q: How can I train my Aussie to stop staring at me?

A: Positive training methods are the most effective way to teach your dog any new behavior, including reducing excessive staring. You can redirect their attention, reward them for looking away, and provide mental and physical stimulation to keep them engaged.

Q: Is it true that Australian Shepherds are one of the best dog breeds?

A: Australian Shepherds are highly regarded as one of the best dog breeds for various reasons. They are intelligent, versatile, loyal, and have a strong work ethic. However, the “best” dog breed ultimately depends on individual preferences and lifestyle.

Q: Are Australian Shepherds similar to Border Collies and German Shepherds?

A: Australian Shepherds share some similarities with Border Collies and German Shepherds as they are all herding breeds. However, each breed has its own distinct characteristics and temperaments.

Q: Can Australian Shepherds be used as service dogs?

A: Yes, Australian Shepherds can be trained and used as service dogs. Their intelligence, trainability, and versatility make them well-suited for various service roles including therapy work, assistance tasks, and search and rescue.

Q: Why is my Australian Shepherd puppy staring at me?

A: Staring is a common behavior in Australian Shepherd puppies as they are trying to understand and learn about their surroundings. It can also be a way for them to bond with their owners and seek attention.

Q: Is it normal for my 4-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy to stare at me?

A: Yes, it is normal for a 4-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy to stare at their owners. At this age, they are still learning and exploring the world around them, and staring is one of the ways they try to communicate and understand things.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, it’s important to understand that your Australian Shepherd’s intense gaze is not something to be afraid of.

Instead, it is a natural behavior rooted in their herding instincts and desire to communicate with their owners.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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