Have you ever noticed that when you enter a dog’s territory, his eyes are on you? Or when you give a dog a command, he seems to have the eye contact as if to acknowledge that he understands? Eye contact is a powerful tool used by trainers and pet owners to gain control over the animal, and to communicate commands.
Many people are surprised to learn that the way a human processes eye contact, and the way a canine process eye contact are very alike -it’s a powerful type of non-verbal communication.
Making eye contact with a dog can be perceived in a variety of ways. When you look at dog in the face with training, it establishes that you are the alpha, and helps to communicate that you are in control of the animal. If you fail to make proper eye contact with a dog, they will think that you are submissive, and will not follow your commands.
Most dogs avoid making eye contact with people if they are not properly socialized, this may be an easy way to spot a dog that is a bite threat. On the other hand, dogs that are fixed on someone and waiting for the human to make eye contact back may be looking for a challenge- another way to spot a bite threat.
Eye Contact with Aggressive Canines
This can be a little tricky for people who work in positions that require them to come in close contact with unfamiliar dogs. If a dog is showing aggression, it is important to make eye contact, stand tall, and use command language. Tell them to “SIT” or “STOP” in a strong tone.
Keeping eye contact is also important to read the dog’s next move; you will see signs of an impending attack before he has a chance to strike. At that point, it is important to put an object in between you and the dog, and never turn your back on the canine.
While it is sometimes unavoidable, people should avoid close encounters with canines and should not make eye contact with aggressive dogs if they are not already facing an attack. According to the New Zealand Medical Journal, children who make eye contact with dogs are far more likely to be bitten – this is because dogs are rarely threatened by a small child, and will always see them as submissive.