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Why Do Dogs Look at Their Owners While Defecating?

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Dogs are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors that often leave us puzzled. One such behavior is the tendency for dogs to stare at their owners while defecating. It may seem strange and even uncomfortable, but there are actually several reasons behind this behavior. In this article, we will explore the various theories and insights from experts to understand why dogs exhibit this behavior and what it means.

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The Vulnerability Factor

When a dog assumes the position to defecate, it is undoubtedly one of their most vulnerable moments. In the wild, animals are at their most defenseless when they are focused on eliminating waste. They are unable to fight or flee easily, making them easy targets for predators. This vulnerability is deeply ingrained in their instincts, and even though domesticated dogs may not face the same level of danger, this instinctual behavior remains.

According to Dr. Michelle Burch, a DVM from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, dogs stare at their owners while defecating to ensure their safety. They rely on their owners, who are considered part of their pack, to be on the lookout for any potential threats. By keeping a close eye on their owners, dogs are seeking reassurance that they are not in danger.

Seeking Comfort and Security

Another possible reason for dogs staring at their owners during this intimate moment is the need for comfort and security. Nicholas DeRoma, a Veterinary Technologist and Canine Behavior Specialist, suggests that dogs may feel comforted by the presence of their owners when they are in a vulnerable position. This behavior may be particularly true for dogs with a history of fearful or anxious experiences related to defecation.

Jen Jones, a Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist, adds that dogs look to their owners as protectors. By maintaining eye contact, they are essentially asking their owners to watch their backs while they attend to their business. This behavior may seem uncomfortable for us, but it is a testament to the trust and bond that dogs share with their owners.

Non-Verbal Communication

Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they have a strong instinct to stay within eyesight of their pack members. Alexandra Bassett, Owner and Lead Trainer at Dog Savvy Los Angeles, explains that eye contact is a form of non-verbal communication among pack animals. It helps them stay connected and promotes a sense of security as the pack roams. In the case of defecation, dogs rely on eye contact with their owners as a way to maintain a visual connection and ensure their safety.

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Furthermore, dogs have a keen sense of smell, and the scent of fresh poop can attract other animals. By maintaining eye contact, dogs are also signaling to their owners that they are in a vulnerable position and need protection. This shared ritual between dogs and their owners during potty breaks reinforces the bond and trust between them.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Sara Ochoa, a Veterinary Consultant for Doglab.com, suggests that some dogs may stare at their owners while defecating as a way to seek attention or rewards. Dogs are highly attuned to their owners’ reactions and behaviors, and they quickly learn that certain actions lead to positive outcomes. If a dog has been rewarded or praised for making eye contact during training or potty breaks, they may continue this behavior to seek attention or treats.

On the other hand, Ochoa also mentions that some dogs may avoid eye contact or hide while defecating. This behavior may be a result of embarrassment or a way to express dissatisfaction or defiance towards their owners. Dogs can be quite perceptive and intuitive, and they may use their body language to communicate their emotions.

Understanding Your Dog’s Individuality

It’s important to remember that every dog is unique, and their behavior may vary based on their personality, past experiences, and breed tendencies. While the theories mentioned above provide valuable insights, it’s crucial to observe and understand your own dog’s behavior in the context of their individuality.

If your dog tends to stare at you while defecating, take it as a sign of their trust and reliance on you. Respect their vulnerability and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment for their bathroom breaks. Avoid doing anything that may startle or disturb them during this time.


The behavior of dogs staring at their owners while defecating may seem unusual at first, but it is rooted in their instincts and their dependence on their owners for protection and comfort. Dogs are pack animals, and they rely on non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, to stay connected with their pack members. By maintaining eye contact, dogs seek reassurance, security, and attention from their owners.

As responsible pet owners, it is essential to understand and respect our dogs’ behaviors and provide them with the care and support they need. By creating a safe and comfortable environment for their bathroom breaks, we can strengthen the bond we share with our furry companions.

Remember, each dog is unique, and it’s important to observe and understand your own dog’s behavior to better respond to their needs. So the next time your dog stares at you while defecating, embrace it as a testament to the special connection you share.

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