Should I let my dog watch me eat? Every day, in kitchens and at dining tables all over the world, dogs are staring at their human family as they eat. After all, if your food smells good to you, think how good it smells to your dog, whose nose is up to 10,000 times keener than your own! Yet you shouldn’t have to spend every meal for the rest of your life feeling irritated or guilty or whatever you are feeling every time you take a bite and catch your dog staring.
- Should I let my dog watch me eat?
- Why do dogs watch us eat?
- Can I stop my dog watching me eat?
- How to stop your dog staring at your food
Should I Let My Dog Watch Me Eat?
The word “should” implies that there is something potentially wrong with allowing your dog to watch you eat. Rest assured there are no studies proving that you are harming your dog in some way by allowing them to watch you eating. It is okay to let your dog watch you eat as long as their staring doesn’t bother you.
In fact, once you start watching your dog more closely, you may notice your pup stares at you a lot whether you are eating or not! Your dog watches you because they are bonded to you and because they take their cue about how safe or not their world is from you.
However, you may also notice your dog watches you more closely when you are eating than at any other time. Why might this be the case?
Why Does My Dog Watch Me While I Eat?
Humans have been in productive partnerships with dogs for millenia. So if it sometimes feels like your dog can read your mind, chances are good they probably can. Recent research has even revealed that dogs are so connected to people their facial anatomy has literally changed over the centuries to allow for better communication with us.
Specifically, dogs have developed specific eyebrow muscles to allow them to make “puppy dog eyes,” an expression any dog owner knows well. Dogs use puppy dog eyes to send us messages like “I want what you are eating.” But this isn’t the only message your dog might be trying to send you when they watch you eat.
Those puppy dog eyes might also be saying “I am hungry – please feed me.” Or they might be saying “I am bored – please play with me.” The message might even be “I need to go to the bathroom – please take me for a walk.”
If you have previously fed your dog from the table, the message might also be one of expectation, saying “please give me some of what is on your plate.” If this is the case, is there anything you can do to stop your dog staring while you eat?
Can I Stop My Dog Staring At Me While I Eat?
There is actually a lot you can do to stop your dog from staring you down anytime you have a snack or a meal. But the key to success is to select your strategy and stick to it. Consistency equals clear communication in your dog’s world, so you need to use the method you choose faithfully for every snack and every meal.
Feed Your Dog When You Eat
If your dog was living in the wild, they would spend most of every day trying to find food. In this context, it makes sense that when you decide to eat, you have your dog’s undivided attention.
One easy way to distract your dog from staring at you is to give your dog their meal at the same time you take your meal. However, if your dog wolfs down their dinner in five seconds, this plan can backfire.
Treat Puzzle Toys
Another option to distract your dog is to feed them their meal in a treat puzzle or slow feeder. Depending on how challenging the puzzle toy is, your dog might spend 10 minutes or more working to get every last morsel of food out, leaving you to eat your dinner in peace.
Teach A No Begging Command
There are a variety of commands you can use to communicate your expectations to your dog. And here again, it doesn’t really matter what words you use. Your actions will tell your dog if you are truly serious or not.
Keep Them Away During Mealtimes
Some dog breeds have more persistent or stubborn personality traits than do others. If your dog seems intent on staring you down at supper no matter what you do, relocating them may be best for you both.
If your pup is crate trained, crating them during mealtimes is one option. You could also put them in the yard or in another room until you are done eating.
Should I Let My Dog Watch Me Eat?
Should you let your dog watch you eat? As long as your dog only stares and doesn’t whine or beg or become aggressive, there is no harm in allowing your dog to watch you eat. However, if this behavior keeps you from enjoying your meals, you now have several strategies you can use to redirect your dog’s attention so you can eat in peace.
Does your canine companion stare at you while you eat? How do you feel about this behavior? Have you found some neat tricks that work to stop the staring? Share your stories in the comments.
More Dog Dinner Help
- Is tinned dog food raw?
- Does wet dog food need refrigerating?
- How to feed a large adult dog
- Is it bad if your dog eats everything?
- Is mayo safe for dogs?
- Kaminski et al. “Evolution of facial muscle anatomy in dogs.” PNAS, 2019.
- Mikosi et al. “A Simple Reason for a Big Difference: Wolves Do Not Look Back at Humans, but Dogs Do.” Current Biology, 2003.
- Lahtinen et al. “Excess protein enabled dog domestication during severe Ice Age winters.” Nature Journal, 2021.