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Why Does My Dog Stare at Me When I Sleep? 7 Possible Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove

Most dog owners have had the experience of waking up during the night to find their pooch staring at them. While this is certainly adorable, it can be confusing too, and the experience can leave you feeling somewhat unnerved, especially if it happens more than once. Most of us will feel protected and safe from the behavior but still wonder exactly why our dogs are doing this.

In this article, we look at the potential reasons behind this harmless behavior. Let’s dive in!

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1. They heard you waking up

dog with his owner on the bed
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

The most likely reason you find your pooch staring at you in the night is that you’ve stirred during your sleep and woken them up before you’ve woken up, making it appear that they’ve been staring at you while you’re sleeping. You may have been dreaming and moving around, causing your pooch to wake up and see what you’re up to!


2. Hunger

Many owners feed their dogs both in the evening and in the morning. If this is the schedule that you feed your pooch on, they may simply be hungry and waiting for you to wake up and feed them! Dogs have an internal clock according to the sun and seasons, and many may be able to predict when you are about to wake up. They are simply waiting for their morning meal.


3. Boredom

Dogs need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, and they may be waiting for you to wake up (or will even wake you up themselves!) to get some engagement. Inadequate stimulation can result in serious behavioral problems in dogs, and this may just be one result. Alternatively, if you tend to walk or play with your dog in the morning, they may just be waiting in anticipation.


4. Protection

dog staring at his sleeping master
Image Credit: Daxiao Productions, Shutterstock

Dogs have a long genetic lineage of living and thriving in packs, and as their owner, you are generally viewed as the pack leader. Dogs in packs will instinctively look out for and protect each other, and one of these methods of protection is standing guard while the rest of the pack is asleep. This is especially true with natural guard dogs, such as German Shepherds or Rottweilers.


5. They want to go outside

Sometimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what has woken you up from sleep, and your pooch may have made a noise to alert you of something, and you’ve woken up to find them staring at you! They may want to go outside to relieve themselves, and in this case, you can pat yourself on the back for instilling good habits!


6. Behavioral issues

Rescue dogs often have unique behavioral issues that may crop up at any time. Sometimes, rescue animals or dogs that have not been socialized properly can have trust or attachment issues, and they may not want to leave their owner’s side as a result — even while you’re asleep! Anxious dogs will try to avoid any situation that makes them feel vulnerable, and their owner being asleep is just one of these potential situations.


7. Attention seeking

playing with dog_Olena Yakobchuk_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

Usually, there is nothing wrong with your pooch seeking your attention. They may be staring at you simply because they want their friend to wake up and play! Of course, this behavior can quickly lead to issues if it becomes obsessive in any way and starts to happen every night. You may need to do more training and lay down the law about it, even if it means keeping your dog out of your room for a few nights.

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Final Thoughts

Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about if you wake up to find your pooch staring at you. They may simply be staring at you out of concern, they may be hungry or want attention, or they may just need to relieve themselves outside. Dogs will not stare at you sleeping the entire night; they most likely either heard you stirring in your sleep or are trying to wake you up.


Featured Image Credit: AnnaStills, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.