Ever woken up in the middle of the night to find your pup staring at you? It’s almost like their gaze woke you from your sleep. But why are they doing that? Is something wrong? Are they standing guard over you? Or should you be afraid they’re plotting your demise?

dog staring

Nope, the answer is a lot more benign. If you’ve been wondering why your dog stares at you while you sleep, then this is the article for you.

How Do Our Dogs Communicate With Us?

We’re familiar with the typical dog communication tactics. A wagging tail and spinning around means they’re happy. A tucked tail and head down means they’re feeling some shame… they know they did something you won’t approve of.

They can’t speak to us aside from a whine or a bark, so they use body language to talk to us. This comes from the bond humans and canines have built over thousands of years of domestication and partnership.

Usually, if you find your pup giving you a long stare, they’re trying to convey some message-- maybe they’re trying to use telepathy and Jedi mind tricks that usually work when there is food involved.

And they could be trying to talk to us even while we sleep. So, let’s go over a few reasons why your doggy skipped out on sleeping to come to see you and if you should be concerned.

Here’s Why Your Dog Stares At You While You Sleep

Now that you understand your dog is just trying to tell you something, let’s go over some of the most common reasons (and what you might do about it) your dog stares at you while you sleep-- but these can also apply at any time.

Your Dog Needs To Go Out

Nature can call in the middle of the night for your dog just like it does for us. They could be asking to go out so they don’t make a mess in the room, especially if they are house-trained.

Take them out to see if they do their business. If you’re worried about losing them on a night trip out, Fi provides a GPS with 24/7 monitoring and more.

If that’s the answer and you want to curb that behavior then limit water a little earlier before bedtime. And if they have frequent number 2’s at odd hours of the night, then take them out closer to bedtime.

dogs outside

They Want Some Food

Most of us wake up and feed our pups before we feed ourselves. Dogs are ruled by routines, so if they know you will feed them when you wake up then they will stare and wait for you to get up. Some might try to speed up the process with a bark, cry, or a lick on the face.

This might be a sign to increase the amount of food for their dinner. But be careful not to overfeed them-- a healthy dog is a happy dog.

They’re Looking To Play Or Go For A Walk

If your dog has a lot of pent-up energy, they could be staring at you because they want to play or go out for their walk. This is more likely to happen if you’re messing up their routine by sleeping in too late.

If it’s in the middle of the night, then you should engage them with more activities during the day. You guys can go running, swimming, or play in a nearby park. And engaging them with mental tasks such as training or playing with toys also can drain some of that energy.

They’re Trying To Figure Us Out

Over thousands of years of domestication, dogs have learned to understand humans better than any other animal. They notice the slight changes in tone in our voices all the way to the minute details in our facial expressions.

And as the American Kennel Club points out, they stare at us to learn more about the environment they’re in.

They’re Lonely Or Bored

If your pup is a social butterfly and needs company often, they might be staring at you because they are lonely. It might be time to invite them to bed to cuddle with you.

On the other hand, it might be a sign that they are bored, which happens if you don’t stimulate their brain and body enough throughout the day. And as AnimalWised points out, this can be a bigger issue because boredom tends to lead to bad behaviors.

dog staring

They’re Looking For Love & Attention

Sometimes our pups just want to be reminded we love and care about them. It doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping or not, they could be using those puppy dog eyes to entice you into giving them a pat or a treat.

And often these moments when we lock eyes with our canine friends help build the bond we share.

They Perceived Danger And Are Checking On You

While we definitely are the true guardians here, dogs see themselves as our protectors. So if they hear a bump in the night (a real threat or not), their instincts kick in and they will check to see if you’re OK. And they might also be looking to you for protection as well.

There could be other reasons why they might stare, but these cover the basics. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Hunger
  • Wants to play or walk
  • Reading you
  • Lonely/Bored
  • They love you
  • They’re worried about you

Should You Be Concerned If Your Dog Stares At You While You Sleep?

In most cases, the short answer is no. You don’t have to worry that your furry friend is plotting a coup against you (they’re not cats!)

However, staring could hint at some health problems in your dog. For example, dementia is a brain disease that affects the cognitive abilities of people and dogs alike.

Or it could be something like arthritis that makes it difficult for them to get a good night’s rest. If you suspect there could be some underlying health condition, then it’s best to consult with your vet.

All in all, it shouldn’t be an issue if your pup does this.