Have you ever noticed your dog staring off into space? This has to be one of the most perplexing behaviors many dog owners struggle to understand and deal with.
Here’s a Short Answer Why Dogs Stare Into Space
There are several possible reasons for the question “why does my dog stare into space” but among the most likely is that your dog is sensing or hearing something, seeking attention, or suffering from health issues like dementia, eyesight problems, and infections.
Let’s explore this issue more fully and a way to deal with it if you notice your dog staring blankly into space.
Dogs Stare Into Space for a Variety of Reasons
Dogs staring at nothing, at an object, or into space all have different meanings. Here’re several possible explanations for why your dog stares into space.
1. Sensing or Hearing Something
Because dogs have significantly better hearing, they can hear sounds and frequencies that are virtually undetectable to the human ear. There are a few reasons why your dog might be staring into space related to their incredible sense of hearing and perception.
Dogs can hear sounds when they are between -5 dB and -15 dB on average, which is much higher than what most people can detect; even the mere sound of wind blowing past their ear can cause them to look around and focus on identifying the source of the sounds.
Their acute hearing makes them pick up on thin, like the sound of pests inside walls and floors.
2. Pests in The Walls
Their acute hearing makes it possible for our dogs to pick up on things behind the walls that are virtually undetectable to humans, such as cockroaches, mice, ants, spiders, and other critters that tend to infest our house.
Out of all pests that one might find in the home, critters tend to be the most common.
They can live in various places around your home, such as insulation and ducts, which means they might be creeping up behind a wall and generate a noise that only your dog can hear. This is where you will often find your dog stare into space, trying to figure out what’s going on.
By staying still and staring, they can better hone in on the sound. When your dog senses and finds these creatures, they will likely bark and alert you to their location.
The simplest way to solve this is by having your pest control service come out every month for a termite inspection. This can protect your home from getting these pests inside in the first place, or it may help them locate an infestation that has already taken place.
3. Attention Seeking
If you caught your dog staring at the wall, it could be that they were trying to get your attention. If a pup senses humans are drawn towards their gaze when looking at a blank surface, they may do this with intention in order to make sure someone comes and rubs them on the head or scratches behind their ears.
Aside from staring at the wall, dogs can also stare at your feet or other parts of your body, jump up and down, and other things to seek your attention.
4. Outside Noises
Similar to the sound they hear from critter pests inside the wall, outside noises can get caught in the dog’s ears. For example, they may hear noises coming from the street or neighbor’s house.
Dogs are very alert to their surroundings and will stare at what they don’t recognize. In this situation, it’s possible that your dog stares into space or wall to figure out the source of those unusual noises so as not to be caught off guard in case it’s something that could harm them or threaten their territory.
This is especially true when their blank stare is accompanied by a slight head tilt. A head tilting with a blank stare gaze is often meant they are confused as heck.
5. Eyesight Deterioration
Does your older dog stare into space? Could it be that they just can’t see as well as before and are looking for a clearer spot to focus on?
Older dogs are more likely to have eye problems such as cataracts, corneal ulcers, and degenerative retinal diseases. Some of the most common eye problems in older dogs include cataracts, glaucoma, eye irritants, and blindness.
6. Signs of Infections
Infections can cause your dog to become disoriented. If your dog has an infection while the dog is staring, they might not be able to stand up straight or have their head tilt.
Another sign of infection is that it can cause seizures. If your dog stares into space and then starts shaking violently, there’s a chance your dog is experiencing a seizure caused by the infection, although it is not the only reason.
7. Compulsive Behavior Disorder
Staring into space can be a sign of compulsive behavior in dogs. It’s possible that your dog is staring because they have an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. There are many different types of behaviors associated with OCD, and the diagnosis will depend on what type it is.
Together with staring, other examples of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder include spinning, tail biting, barking, fly biting, or chewing. The occurring of any of these behaviors in your dog should be treated immediately before it gets worse.
It could be that seizure is the culprit behind your dog’s behavior. However, not all seizures have dramatic symptoms. There is a type of seizure that is called partial seizure or focal seizure. This seizure is characterized by a partial loss of consciousness or awareness. The most common symptom observed in this type of seizure is staring into space, which can last for seconds to minutes at the longest.
A partial seizure can be caused by epilepsy, cancer, or head injury.
If your dog has recurring seizures, it could be that they have epilepsy. Epilepsy is known to be a genetic or congenital disease, so there’s no way to prevent it from happening. Although it can’t be prevented, it can still be managed with medications and lifestyle changes.
Some dogs experience a mild form of seizure called absence seizures. This type of seizure can present with less dramatic symptoms like a staring spell that usually lasts briefly (less than 15 seconds), making it hard to pick up.
Some signs are as follows:
- brief duration of unconsciousness
- loss of muscle tone
- blank stare
- and upward rotation of eyes
9. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)
As dogs age, just like humans, they may develop cognitive dysfunction diseases, such as dementia or senility. In many ways, it exhibits similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease in people and caused your dog’s brain function to decline over time and make their behavior changes.
Nowadays, canine cognitive dysfunction diseases have become a common thing brought by old age than they used to. According to PetMD, “Approximately one in every three dogs over the age of 11 show signs of cognitive dysfunction syndrome, and by the time they reach 16 years old, nearly all exhibited at least one sign.”
A lot of dog owners are unaware that their dogs develop canine cognitive dysfunction diseases because the diagnosis itself can be difficult. What makes the diagnosis process difficult is that that the symptoms that each dog has can vary. So the only way for the vet to diagnose it is by ruling out all the possible causes one by one.
Dogs staring at a blank space itself is not concrete proof that your dog has dementia. You should also consider other related symptoms.
Disorientation is usually the first symptom of CDS. In some cases, the symptom of disorientation can be easily recognized by the dog’s lack of response to their name. Still, in other cases, the symptom may present itself in a more subtle way. Your dog might not recognize people or places but still act as though they know who you are and where they’re going.
Here are other symptoms to be aware of:
- Changes in sleep habits
- Less interaction with people
- Forgetting previously learned training or house rule
Changing their diet and keeping them active can help to delay age-related cognitive decline.
What To Do If Your Dog is Staring Into Space as if Seeing a Ghost?
A stare is normal dog behavior. This is one of many ways dogs use to communicate with humans. So in most cases, you have nothing to worry about.
However, if you see your dog staring at the wall or into spaces for long periods of time and they have no interest in his environment or responding to light or sound aggravated with other symptoms such as seizure, then this is an alarming indication that something may be wrong with him.
If you notice there is something wrong with your dog, no matter how small, it is better to bring them to the vet right away.