Why Does My Dog Lower His Head and Stare

Dogs communicate with us through body language, so if you’ve wondered, “Why does my dog lower his head and stare?” we have a reason for you.

Your dog may lower their head and stare away from you or at you for various reasons, including showing submission, feeling intimidated, experiencing pain, or thinking they are in trouble.

Since the root cause can range from nothing to worry about to more severe causes, it’s crucial to figure out why. Once you know, you can make any necessary changes for your pet’s health.

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So, Why Does My Dog Lower Their Head and Stare?

Here are some possible reasons your dog lowers his head and stares at you.

Showing Submission

Dogs will lower their head toward the ground to show submission. When being submissive is the cause, they are telling you they know you’re the one in charge.

A submissive dog is nothing to worry about. Submissive dogs are sometimes easier to train and are better behaved.

There are several signs to look out for to determine if your dog is showing submission:

  • Lying down belly up
  • Submissive urination
  • Positioning ears backward
  • “Grinning”
  • Tucked-in tail or a low-wagging tail
  • Avoiding eye contact with you

Thinks They Are In Trouble

Your dog may also believe they are in trouble or think you are annoyed with them, especially if you’ve used negative reinforcement techniques.

If this is the case, switch to positive reinforcement. According to a study, adverse-based training methods can lead to stress-related behaviors and negatively impact your dog’s welfare.

Other signs that a dog thinks it’s in trouble include:

  • Dropping ears
  • Averting eyes
  • Tucking tail

Feels Intimidated or Scared

Another cause could be that your dog feels fearful or intimidated. Aggressively approaching your pup, shouting, or making dramatic movements may cause your dog to feel intimidated.

If your dog feels intimidated or scared, he may whine, yelp, or growl to vocalize what he’s feeling. He may also lower his tail or tuck it close to his stomach.

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Dogs, unfortunately, don’t always understand that they’re doing something wrong until it’s too late. Though it can be frustrating, do your best to stay calm.


Like humans, our canine companions can also experience depression. If your dog suddenly starts lowering his head and staring, they may be depressed.

This condition is especially likely if your pup has recently experienced a change in its life.

Common triggers for depression in dogs include:

  • Loss of another pet or human companion
  • Chronic pain
  • Trauma from abuse or injury
  • Environmental changes like moving to a new house or having a new baby or pet
  • Grief while mourning the loss of a human or animal companion
  • Social isolation
  • Not receiving enough exercise or mental stimulation, especially if you have a high-energy breed

If you think your pet is depressed, do your best to identify and remove the trigger.

Pain or Injury

Dogs who have an injury or chronic pain may lower their heads due to discomfort or feeling weak.

Pain or injury is likely the cause if your furry friend suddenly starts lowering their head and does it even when excited or happy.

Dogs in pain may also:

  • Shake excessively
  • Flatten their ears
  • Have a lowered posture
  • Show signs of aggression
  • Limp
  • Lose their appetite
  • Play, exercise, or interact less.
  • Whining

If there is a chance your dog is in pain, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to determine the cause.


During the evolution of canines, dogs learned that certain behaviors around humans could be advantageous. For instance, your dog may have noticed that it gets attention when he lowers his head and stares at you.

Your dog may beg for food, water, or a good back rub in this context. When your dog intently stares at you, it’s hard not to notice.

However, if you believe your dog is begging, do your best to ignore the stare. Some breeds are incredibly smart and can learn to train you rather than the other way around.

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Identifying the Cause

Below are some things to consider when figuring out why your dog has been lowering their head and staring.

Determine When Head Is Lowered

If your dog lowering his head and staring is a new habit, try to remember when he started doing it. Can you think of anything significant that happened during that time?

What Are the Common Factors?

Does your dog seem to do this maneuver at certain times? For example, they may lower their head in fear around a particular human or animal.

Or, your furry friend may do this trick around the time you usually feed him or every time his water bowl is empty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding the question, “Why does my dog lower his head and stare?”

Why does my dog stand and stare?

Sometimes, your dog will stand and stare at you to get attention.

Why does my dog lower their head when I look at them?

Your dog may lower their head when you look at them because your pup wants to let you know they trust you as its protector and leader.

Why does my dog put their head down when I cuddle them?

If your dog puts their head down and stares at you when you cuddle up next to them, they are trying to tell you that you make them feel safe.

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Final Thoughts

“Why does my dog lower his head and stare?” There are several potential causes, such as submission, fear, depression, injury, or begging.

Once you identify why your dog has been lowering their head and staring, you can determine whether the context is cause for concern. When in doubt, talk with your pup’s veterinarian to find a long-term solution for them.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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