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

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog staring at his sleeping owner

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

Most dog owners have had the experience of waking up during the night to find their pup staring at them. While this is certainly adorable, it can also be confusing, and the experience may even leave you feeling somewhat unnerved, especially if it happens more than once. Many 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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The 7 Possible Reasons Your Dog Stares at You When You Sleep

1. They Heard You Waking Up

The most likely reason you will find your pup 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 pup to wake up and see what you’re up to!

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

2. They Are Hungry

Many owners feed their dogs both in the evening and in the morning. If this is the schedule that you feed your pup 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. They Are Bored

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. They Want to Protect You

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.

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

5. They Want to Go Outside

Sometimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what has woken you up from sleep, and your pup 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. They Have 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. They Are Attention Seeking

Usually, there is nothing wrong with your pup 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.

playing with dog_Olena Yakobchuk_Shutterstock
Image By: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about if you wake up to find your pup 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.

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Featured Image Credit: AnnaStills, Shutterstock

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