dog side eye

Dog Side Eye(Whale Eye): Why Does My Dog Look To The Side?

Every dog owner has experienced their dog giving them the side-eye. As you pass by while they are playing with their toy, they turn to look at you. It’s called the side-eye, also called the whale eye.

If you catch your dog giving you the side eye, do not worry. They probably don’t mean any harm, and there are precautions you can take to ensure the comfort and happiness of both you and your dog. Let’s discuss what the dog side eye means and why your dog might give you whale eye.

What Is A Dog Side Eye(Whale Eye)

Do you know how your dog occasionally glances at you out of the corner of its eye? Usually, they are looking away from you, but they have their attention fixed on you or what you are doing. They appear to be attempting not to look, but they are undoubtedly doing so. They appear somewhat suspicious or as though they are keeping a juicy secret when they have dog-side eyes. Sometimes the whites of their eyes are visible throughout the entire eye, or on one side in the shape of a half-moon.

(Whale Eye)

The Fake Side Eye

Dogs are incredibly intelligent, and occasionally, they can train you just as well as you can train them. There may be times when you see the whites of your dog’s eyes but they aren’t trying to warn you.

Your pup will give you those adorable puppy eyes if it is trying to get food or attention. Your dog isn’t stressed or uncomfortable, and instead, they’re actually trying to manipulate you.

A study found that dogs possess a muscle that enables them to raise their eyebrows and use them to express facial emotions.

After years of domestication, dogs have discovered that raising their eyebrows in the presence of nearby humans causes a nurturing reaction. Dogs consequently discovered that appearing disinterested increases their chances of success.

Dogs might look at you from the front or the side while flashing their puppy eyes. If done from the side, the puppy eyes will look similar to the whale eye, but there are other differences.

What Causes Dogs To Have Side-Eye

Dogs primarily communicate with one another through body language, and when one of them feels threatened or anxious, they will display a variety of behaviors to let the other dog know that they will likely become defensive if they are not left alone. In essence, the dog’s “whale eye” is a warning to other dogs, people, cats, and mailmen that if they don’t give the dog some room, the dog might bite.

For dog owners, especially those with kids, being able to spot this kind of warning sign is crucial. While subtle, behaviors like the whale eye are the dog’s way of expressing discomfort, and acting quickly to the message helps you and your dog develop trust.

What To Do If Your Dog Shows Side Eye

First off, don’t worry. Neither the world is coming to an end nor is your dog a bad dog. This kind of behavior is actually quite typical in dogs. It goes without saying that we don’t want them to continue doing it, but it’s important to understand that this doesn’t necessarily indicate that your pup is flawed. He’s still the [fill in the blank with an adjective] little guy or girl you adore.

Giving your dog the space they request when you notice this kind of behavior is absolutely necessary. Retrace your steps and assess the circumstance. Did you get too close to the bone they’d been keeping hidden for a week?

Are you about to step on their favorite toy? Or, if you’re a dog, are you about to put your muddy paw on their bed because you believe it is for sharing? The whale eye is a warning because any of these things could set off a defensive reaction.

If your dog is protecting valuable items like a bone, treats, a particular toy, etc. – it’s probably worth it to take them away.

Be aware of the behavior if the person is staring sideways at someone else while you are the high-value item. If you have that person over, get them off your lap and don’t let them lean in. Simply eliminating the trigger is often enough what is needed to mitigate this behavior.

It might be time to speak with a trainer or a dog behaviorist if your dog is exhibiting significant reactivity and stress-related issues.

(Whale Eye)

Body Language That Goes With Whale Eye

Some canines have anatomy that makes it possible to see the eye white all the time. It can be a little trickier to tell when a dog is giving you the side eye because brachycephalic breeds like Boxers, (English and French) Bulldogs, and Pugs are most susceptible to it.

If you aren’t sure whether your dog is trying to tell you they are uncomfortable with their eyes, try looking for some of these other body language cues: Lip Licking, Frozen Body, Low Growling, and Showing Teeth or Gums.

Signs your dog is agitated:

  • Giving you or someone else a warning growl
  • Showing their teeth if you get too close
  • Tense body
  • Tucked tail

Signs your dog is stressed:

  • Growling, whining, or barking
  • Licking lips
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Pacing back and forth

Especially if your dog is growling, it might be tempting to chastise them for their aggressive behavior. However, dogs use warning growls as well to signal that they’re in distress and to leave them alone.

By reprimanding your dog, you are teaching them not only that growling is inappropriate but also that they shouldn’t give warnings. Unfortunately, this might cause your dog to skip the warning entirely and start biting right away.

A dog is not necessarily aggressive just because it is growling. It’s good that all dogs growl, bark, and whine to express themselves.

If your dog is showing signs of aggression, such as biting, when food guarding or guarding other objects, don’t resolve the issue on your own; consult a dog behaviorist.