Why Does My Dog Stare at Me When I Sleep?


Dogs stare at you while you’re asleep for many reasons, but it’s mostly because they’re trying to tell you something. Whether it’s out of protection, fear, desire, they want to communicate through their eyes.

Sometimes, they’re too afraid to wake you up, which explains the behavior. Let’s see why else they do it!

Why Your Dog Stare at You When You Sleep

When your dog stares at you, even when you sleep, it’s mainly because he wants to communicate something or get your attention. There are several reasons for this, from your dog needing something specific like going outside to the bathroom, to when he feels anxious or senses danger and needs to warn you.

Unfortunately, dogs don’t come with instruction guides! Every day of raising a dog holds something new, especially if it’s your first time doing it. Out of the many weird things that dogs do, their creepiest trait yet is staring at their owners while they’re asleep.

So, why does my dog stare at me when I sleep? Here are the possible reasons.

He’s Hungry

Dogs live by routine, and they rarely stray off of it. So, when you wake up to find them staring at you, ask yourself what they should be doing now according to their routine.

Dogs mostly eat first thing in the morning. If you happen to sleep late one morning, they may take it to themselves to stare at you until you wake up and feed them. On rare occasions, the dog may courage up and wake you himself, but that rarely happens.

They mostly resort to staring at you.

He Wants to Play

Dogs don’t have much freedom when their owners are asleep. They can’t go for their usual walk or play around until you wake up. So, if you happen to sleep in, you may find your buddy staring at you out of a desire to play and run around.

This mostly happens when you’re breaking the dog’s routine by sleeping. If he’s used to accompanying you on morning walks or plays with you, he’ll sit by your bed and wait for you to wake up.

He’s Bored

Dogs have a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions; they go through most feelings as humans do. So, when your dog is bored, don’t expect him to sit in a corner and count the stars. Instead, he’ll come to you for help.

If you’re asleep, the dog will keep staring at you, waiting for you to give him attention. This mostly happens when your dog feels you’re not engaging with him enough when you’re awake.

Dogs’ boredom is a serious problem that could lead to behavioral disorders. When your dog senses you’re not giving him enough attention, he may stick to your bed and keep staring at you while asleep, trying to communicate.

He’s Lonely

Dogs get lonely as humans do. When you feel lonely, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Connecting or talking with someone. The dog does the same.

If you happen to be asleep while the dog is feeling lonely, he’ll resort to staring at your sleeping form until you wake up and keep him company. Loneliness is a familiar feeling for dogs who’re living alone.

If you notice the lonely signs persisting on your dog, it may be time to get another pet to keep him company.

He’s Protective of You

Dogs have protective instincts, as all animals do. It’s different, though. While wild animals drive their protectiveness toward the pack and their family, pet dogs will push it towards their owner, as they see him as a part of the pack.

Dogs believe that a human is at his most vulnerable while asleep, which is kind of true. So, they take it to themselves to protect their owner by standing guard next to the bed. You’ll see this frequently if you have a baby.

Dogs are incredibly protective of babies; they’ll stick next to their bassinet and keep watching them as they sleep.

He Feels a Near Danger

When dogs perceive danger, they immediately get into an alpha mood, sniffing around for the source of it. Therefore, when they feel a threat coming close, whether it’s from a weird sound outside or the presence of someone they don’t know, they’ll start standing guard to be ready.

In these cases, the dogs will likely check to see if you’re breathing. On top of that, they’ll go around the room sniffing near the windows and doors.

When you notice this kind of behavior, you’ll realize it’s because the dog’s sense of danger is on.

He’s Feeling Affectionate

What do you do when you feel affectionate towards your dog? You probably keep hugging and petting him like there’s no tomorrow. Well, your dog does the same, except maybe with a more delicate approach!

Your dog may be staring at you while asleep because he loves you; it’s as simple as that. Dogs are simple creatures. They want to be next to their owners all the time, and that’s what they do.

If you notice your dog repeating the staring while asleep thing, you may want to check if he’s gotten too attached. Over-attachment can cause the dog to have separation anxiety whenever his owner isn’t around.

He May Be Anxious

If you recently adopted your dog out of a shelter, there’s a high chance he’s staring at you while asleep because he’s afraid. Dogs who were projected to trauma are particularly sensitive about their new owners. They may express their concern by staring.

People who adopt rescue dogs normally have harder missions because they deal with the consequences of the dog’s trauma. Staring while they’re asleep is just one of these.

Your dog should get more comfortable with your presence later on and stop doing that. If it persists, the dog will probably still be wary of you.

He May Be Sick

Some health conditions may drive your dog to keep staring at you throughout the night. For example, if your dog is suffering from dementia, his cognitive functions will be inevitably affected.

The side effects of this disease are a lot, and they sometimes include abnormal behavior. The range of abnormal behavior can vary from excessive barking to staring at people while they’re asleep.

In addition to that, if your dog has arthritis, he may have difficulty sleeping in a comfortable position. As a result, he may resort to sitting beside you on the bed.

Lastly, some dogs suffering hypothyroidism may not be able to sleep. They may find an alternative to sleeping at night, which is watching you sleep.

If you notice this behavior persisting and you’re not familiar with it, it may result from some underlying health condition.

Should You Take Action Against Your Dog When He Stares At You When You sleep?

When you notice your dog staring at you while you’re asleep, should you get up and do something?

Well, it depends. If the dog is waiting for some kind of action, you should do it. He may be asking for food, or he just wants attention. In both cases, you’ll need to get up and do what he wants, especially if you’re sleeping in and you’re the reason the dog is bored.

In other cases, you’re okay to leave your dog to stare at you while asleep. If you’re not bothered by it, then why tell him to go away? Dogs sometimes need to feel secure, and they do that by being next to you, even if you’re asleep.

There are some cases where you should start seeing if something is wrong with the dog. If he keeps barking when you’re asleep, it’s a sight of destructive attachment. If that’s accompanied by violent behavior that you’re unfamiliar with, it’s a sign you need to visit the vet.

When Should You Visit the Vet?

The thing with dogs is you may never know what’s wrong with them. Dealing with creatures that don’t talk is pretty difficult. Your dog may be suffering an underlying health condition without you knowing it.

The right time to take him to a vet is when noticing new, unfamiliar behavior, especially if it’s destructive. Some dogs will keep barking while staring at your sleeping form. Others will keep pushing things around to make loud noises.

Meanwhile, some dogs may take it to themselves to wake you up in the middle of the night. If it happens one time, and it’s because the dog is hungry or bored, it’s okay. However, if the dog repeats it without an apparent reason, it’s time for the vet.

Other Reasons Your Dog Is Staring At You

There are other incidents when your dog stares at you for natural reasons. For starters, some dogs stare at you and growl. That’s a sign they’re anxious or feeling threatened. In this case, you might want to look for the source of that feeling.

Dogs will mostly do that when there’s something new they’re not used to.

Furthermore, some dogs stare at you and bark. In this case, check to see if his body is stiff or if he’s wagging his tail. These may be signs that he’s tense or just in a negative mood. Otherwise, if he barks and smiles enthusiastically, he’s just happy and inviting you to engage with him.

Lastly, if the dog is staring at you after you pet him, he’s merely showing his love. If you notice him stiffening or giving you the whale eye, it’s your cue to stop petting him and give him his space.

Final Thoughts

Dogs stare at their owners while asleep for a lot of reasons. It could be anxiety, a health condition, or love! Most of the time, it’s natural and non-concerning.

Only take extra measures when you notice new behavior. Other than that, you should be fine!