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May 11, 2021
Looking over at your dog to find them staring intently at the wall can make you raise an eyebrow, to say the least. Does your dog see a ghost? Are they mad at you? Is something wrong? Maybe your dog is just trying to tell you something or show you something. Of course, you might have all of these questions and more running through your brain since you likely already know this can’t be standard pup behavior.
Well, not to say that it isn’t possible, but it’s very unlikely a ghost is to blame. Although movies and Google have built up the idea of dogs sensing the supernatural, you’re better off taking that option off the table. It could keep you from investigating other possibilities, which might result in you not getting your dog the help they need.
However, there are several other plausible reasons that can make your furry friend stare at the wall which don’t require a ghost detector.
If your canine companion starts to pass the time with some wall-gazing, it can be a little concerning, but don’t assume the worst. Some of the reasons your pooch stares at the wall have no health or medical connections, while some do. Therefore, it’s essential to know the possibilities and watch your pup closely so you can determine the underlying cause for their new habit.
One simple explanation is that your pup hears something coming from the wall, whether on the other side or coming from inside of it. This could especially be the case if your pup is tilting their head or cocking their ears as they stare at the wall.
If you live in an apartment complex or somewhere similar, your dog could hear your neighbors talking or making other noises. Or, you might have some critters crawling about in your walls (pleasant, right?) that are making your dog listen intently. Remember, dogs have a keen sense of hearing, and you might not hear what your pup hears if you aren’t paying close attention.
Make sure everything is quiet and place your ear against the wall to see if you can hear anything. If you do, then the problem is solved. You won’t likely need to call your vet in this situation. However, if you hear sounds inside your wall, you might want to call an exterminator.
In some cases, your pup might just be seeking your attention. If you make a big deal every time your dog stares at the wall, then they might start associating the behavior with getting feedback from you. It’s sort of like a young child that repeats a frustrating behavior over and over again because they know it gets a rise out of you. If you suspect this is the case, give your dog more activities to do. Also, stop making a big deal when your pup stares at the wall, and give attention to positive behaviors to see if this quells the wall-gazing behavior.
While hearing something in the wall or wanting to mess with you are possible reasons your pup stares at the wall; unfortunately, they aren’t the most common. If your dog frequently stares at the wall, it’s likely a sign of an underlying issue at play.
If your pup experiences vision problems, it might be that they are simply staring straight ahead, and there happens to be a wall there. Your dog might not actually be seeing anything. To you, it looks like your pup is staring at the wall, while in actuality, they’re just chilling. You should take your dog to the vet for an eye examination to ensure nothing serious is going on. If your dog is older, it could just be vision loss due to old age. Dogs that are blind can still enjoy very happy and normal lives, as typically, other senses kick into overdrive to compensate for the missing sense.
Your dog’s staring could be a compulsive behavior brought on by stress or other issues. Many different things can cause changes in your pup’s behavior, like shifts in their environment, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or illness. Compulsive behaviors can worsen over time and can dampen your pup’s quality of life. It’s best to discuss options with your vet on how to work with your dog to reduce anxiety and decrease compulsive behaviors.
When you hear the word seizure, you might automatically jump to images of someone convulsing on the floor or foaming at the mouth. However, some episodes present very subtly, with the person, or in this case, the dog, staring into space. These focal seizures stem from electrical activity that begins in one part of the brain. Several things can cause your dog to have a focal seizure, including ingesting poison, a head injury, or conditions like epilepsy and cancer.
If your dog has low blood sugar, they might respond by standing still and staring. To you, it can look like your dog is just staring at the wall. This can be a sign of an underlying condition, like diabetes. Other hormonal imbalances and metabolic disorders can also cause your pup to exhibit strange behavior.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) in dogs is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. As your dog ages, cognitive function can decrease, and in some cases, your pup can start to display signs of senility. In addition, you might notice your pup starting to show symptoms such as loss of appetite, incontinence, restlessness, anxious behavior, decreased desire for things like playing and self-grooming, excessive barking, constant licking, disorientation or confusion, inability to locate their bed or food bowl, and displaying odd behaviors, like staring at the wall.
If you notice your dog staring at the wall, rule out the obvious reasons first, like hearing critters or other sounds. Then, engage your pup in adequate stimulating activity, and provide them with interactive toys and exercise if you think they’re just trying to get your attention. But, if these don’t seem to be likely causes, and your pup’s wall staring is constant, it’s time for a visit to the vet.
Bring as much information as you can to the appointment. Take notes about what your dog does while staring, as well as before and after. For example, some dogs press their heads against the wall as they stare, which can signal disorders with different organs like the liver and kidneys. You can even video your pup as they stare at the wall, as it might provide certain clues to your veterinarian.
The more information you can provide your vet, the better, as they’ll likely start the diagnosis process by ruling things out to narrow down the possibilities. Once they’ve determined the reason, they can put together the best treatment plan for your pup, which may or may not include things like medications, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes.
For more insight into your dog’s behavior, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find all sorts of helpful tips on how to help your pup live a happy and healthy life.
January 12, 2022