DOODLE DREAMING AND STARING
The title does say 'Doodle,' but that is just because we have two doodles. As you may suspect, most dogs do have the intense staring routine down to a science. Plus, most dogs do a little dreaming with sound effects and body movements. I just thought that I would find out a little more about the stares and the dreaming simply because our two do both quite frequently. I wanted to know more about this and if I should be concerned or not.
When either of our dogs seem to be staring at one of us it is as if they are trying to bore a hole through us. Why are they eyeballing us so intensely and what are they looking for?
Many times it is just showing their love and wanting the love back from us. Those deep brown eyes aren't scary, but loving. I notice that it can happen when we have been away from them for a while but it can also happen when we have been with them all day. It is nice to think that it is just because they love us SO much, but I have learned that it could be a multitude of reasons.
It is a fairly good chance that they just love us and admire us because we take care of them. Dogs are very devoted creatures and will share their affection. They also are very in tune with their humans and seem to pick up on our moods and they may be staring at us to try to gain more information. Then again, it could be they are trying a trick to get a treat out of us. I know that we have fallen victim to this tactic.
Dogs also are aware that we as their parents expect them to do certain little tricks and they will get a treat for doing it. They stare to try to figure out what they need to do - maybe sit, stay, fetch, shake and if they do it then we will give them a treat. Usually, there is food involved in the staring. They pick up on the social cues. We use positive reinforcement for training so I am positive they are waiting for a reward and what do they need to do to earn it. We trained our eldest to just lay down somewhere around the kitchen table and when we are finished eating, he will receive a treat. He in turn taught it to his little sister. As soon as they hear us starting to clear the silverware and the noise of the dishes, up they pop to receive their reward for being so quiet and still.
Rarely is your dog staring due to stress or aggressiveness. If you are stressed though and take it out on your dog in your voice commands, he could become stressed with you. Dogs are truly this empathetic.
Sometimes it is as simple as trying to tell you that they are hungry or thirsty and need to be taken care of. Maybe needing a trip outside to take care of business? This is why in most cases it is not advised to stop your dog from staring at you. Just accept it as normal. It is best not to stress yourself or your dog out. There is some science behind this staring behavior that has shown it increases the hormones associated with social bonding. One of the common hormones is oxytocin. It is commonly referred to as the cuddle hormone therefore it is not recommended to stop your dog from staring at you with a loving gaze.
Our dogs expend a lot of energy and therefore need nap times. Ours have basically put themselves on a morning and an afternoon nap time. As I was writing this blog, our eldest dog started softly barking in his sleep. Our other dog looked over at him just making sure that he was ok. And yes, he was. It is rather amusing when either one of them goes into such a deep sleep that their tails wag, or their legs start moving as if they are running. It is so interesting to watch and I can't help buy wonder what it is they are dreaming of. Much like humans, dogs can dream fun and happy dreams or even dark nightmare dreams. The interesting thing about dog's and dreams is the simple fact that because we can't communicate with them, we don't technically know what they may be dreaming about. They could be chasing a squirrel up a tree? Dogs use all of their senses while dreaming and this is why you may see ears wiggling, nose sniffling, tail wagging. I would love to believe that they are having sweet dreams about the two of us, yet I know they probably are running free across a huge field of grass, just happy as a lark.
Most vets will tell you not to wake your dog from his dreams. If they seem to be running faster and whimpering then maybe just some soft talk from you will help them. But generally, they are in a very deep sleep at this stage and it could disorient them if you disturb it - especially by touching them.
Then there are all the ways that dogs tend to sleep. Some like it in bed with you, others like to be at the foot of your bed, while others are crate trained and feel very safe and comfortable in their "home." We leave our dogs' crates open and they come and go as they please. Our youngest one loves to curl up in a tight ball using her two blankets and a pillow. Even when it is not cold. Apparently, this is from their ancestors who curled up to protect their organs from predators.
Another strange position is on their back with all 4 legs up in the air. This is really cute, however you should know that this is letting you know that they are extremely easy-going, well-socialized and have veered far away from their wild tendencies. It means that they trust you and feel safe around you.
Just like humans, all dogs dream. Some are more vocal and physical while dreaming. It also is a known fact that smaller dogs dream more frequently during their sleep cycles than larger dogs.