I’ve always wondered what goes on in my dog Benji’s head when he gives me those long unblinking looks. Is he trying to communicate with me through thought waves? Is he telling me how much he loves me with his big brown eyes?
Being so curious may be annoying but for the most part has always served me well. Because now thanks to it, I’ve finally found the reason as to why dogs just stare at you for what seems like eternity.
According to The Scientific American, the type of staring we’re talking about actually has a name: Looking Time. It’s the time dogs use to look at you and take in information.
In an experiment conducted by the University of Sussex, researchers stated that a horse looked longer if he saw his herd-mate turn a corner and heard the sound of a totally different horse from the one that passed by. In human terms, this is considered a double-take. On the other hand, when the horse saw his herd-mate turn a corner and heard the same horse making a sound he didn’t stare as long.
The Scientific American explains this beautifully: It’s like thinking,
“Hey, I just saw Joe walk over there, so how can Billy be making noise over there? I didn’t see Billy go by. Strange.
“Hey, Joe just walked by, and there’s Joe making some noise. Good ol’ Joe.”
Basically, long story short, the reason why dogs stare at so much is because they are trying to match our vocals with our facial expressions so they can read and understand us better.
So, if you like me were wondering why they stare so much. It’s because they just want to understand us better. Cue the awws.