This Is Why Your Dog Stares At You While He’s Pooping

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

There’s a lot about dogs that we humans just don’t understand. Eating garbage? Can’t see the appeal. Smelling each other’s butts?

No idea what that’s about. Running in their sleep? Kind of weird, kind of adorable. Dogs’ most unnerving habit, though, has to be staring deeply into their owners’ eyes while they’re pooping.

All pups seem to really enjoy turning their potty breaks into a staring contest. It’s almost like they can’t help it — as if they need to make eye contact while they do their business. They stare into your soul with this really vulnerable look in their eyes, as if they’re thinking, “Please stop laughing at me.” Or perhaps, “I know we’re in public, but can you look away?”

And yes, they just might be thinking those things. But as with all canine behaviors, there’s also an evolutionary reason for this awkward habit.

That sheepish look in your pooping dog’s eyes is a sign that he’s feeling defenseless, according to dog behavioral expert Madeline Friedman.

“The pooping position is a vulnerable position for dogs,” Madeline told the Dodo.

“The feeling of being vulnerable is left over from their wild ancestor, the wolf, who still has to fend for himself in the wild,” she continued. “I think dogs are making sure we have their backs while they’re in that vulnerable position for an extended period of time.”

That’s right — your dog just wants to make sure you won’t let anything happen to him while he’s preoccupied.

This isn’t the only expert theory for such behavior, though.

Some dogs might be looking at you mid-poop in the hopes of getting a treat. After all, many dogs were given treats for pooping outside while they were being house-trained as puppies.

“I think the dog remembers the reinforcement and hopes for more,” Madeline said.

A younger dog might also be looking for approval that he’s pooping in the right place.

“Perhaps if an owner had previously scolded their dog for pooping in the wrong area, this could cause anxiety in the dog as a result,” dog behaviorist Nick Jones told the Dodo.

Yet there are even further possible reasons for mid-crap eye contact.

“By making eye contact, your dog could be asking permission for something,” veterinarian Dr. Sonja Olson suggested. “Or your dog could be asking for privacy. All this can vary according to breed, your relationship to the dog and other factors.”

Making awkward eye contact seems to be a thing no matter a dog’s breed or age.

They do it whether they’re near or far.

And even when they’re inside your house — not the right spot at all!

City dogs do it.

And country dogs do it.

And even though it’s uncomfortable for everyone involved, it’s also kind of cute.

Then again, when you’re blinded by your love for man’s best friend, everything they do is cute, isn’t it?