Understanding The Attitude Behind Your Dog’s Side Eye

Understanding The Attitude Behind Your Dog’s Side Eye

We’ve all seen that look on our dog’s face, the one that screams “What did you just say to me?” or “Whatever you’re doing, STOP.” It’s when your dog freezes and stares intensely out of the corners of his eyes. Kind of like this:


Source: Eileen and dogs

It’s called whale eye, and it’s your dog’s way of saying “Back off.” Whale eye usually foretells some kind of aggression. It can occur when a dog is guarding something carefully, be it a chew toy or his favorite hooman, and suddenly feels threatened.

Help! My dog has never done this before!

It’s ok. The first step is to give your pup the space he’s asking for. Back up and analyze the situation. Did you get too close to the bone he’s been hiding for 72 hours?


Source: Murphy & Franklin’s silly shenanigans

Are you about to step on his favorite toy? Or if you’re a dog, are you thinking that his bed is for sharing and are you about to place your dirty paw on it? Any of these things could trigger a defensive response, and the whale eye is a warning.


Source: Skookum The Samoyed

There’s a notable difference between the whale eye and a regular side gaze. Notice your dog’s body. If he feels threatened, he’ll appear rigid or tense. But simply looking away is a dog’s way of saying he means no harm.

Any dog owner can sense when their dog is stressed. Whale eye is only one of many body languages dogs express when experiencing discomfort. It’s important to be as intuitive as your pup is. Make sure to never reprimand him for showing signs of anxiety, but instead, evaluate the context to see what you can do to ease your dog’s mood.

Featured image via: @chelseaasylvia

Sources: Paws4dogsDogtimeModern Dog Magazine

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