There’s no denying that some dog behaviors are simply odd. If you’ve ever caught your dog ‘spacing out’ and staring at a wall, for example, you might be confused by what’s going on. It turns out, though, that this kind of behavior is more than just a weird bit of doggie activity – it’s actually something that can be a sign of a real problem.
It should be noted, of course, that sometimes dogs stare at walls because there’s something interesting on the wall. In other cases, though, there’s something going on with your dog that really does need to get addressed. Having an idea of what could be happening can help you to determine if it’s time to see a vet.
Why Dogs Stare at Walls
Normal Hunting/Protective Behavior
In a best-case scenario, your dog stares at the wall because there’s actually something going on with your wall. Remember, dog senses are very different than our own and it’s entirely possible that your dog can hear or smell something on which you just can’t pick up.
Some dogs will stare at a wall because they hear or smell something behind a wall. Whether it’s a dead raccoon that you can’t quite smell yet or a family of mice chewing away at your insulation, your dog is staring because he or she knows that something is there.
The easiest way to figure out if this is the issue is to try to get your dog’s attention. If he or she can easily be dissuaded from paying attention to the wall, there’s a good chance he or she was just distracted. If not, you may want to look at some of the other causes of this behavior.
Unfortunately, dogs have a sad tendency to develop any number of compulsive behaviors. This is more common for dogs who are under-stimulated, but it can occur in virtually any breed at any time.
The easiest way to tell if your dog is compulsively staring at a spot on the wall is to look for other symptoms of compulsive behavior. If your dog starts to go crazy any time he or she sees you or the dog starts to engage in destructive behavior whenever he or she is left alone, there’s a chance that your dog is under-stimulated or bored enough to have developed a whole host of bad habits.
It’s always a good idea to look at this as a solvable problem. Identify why your dog has developed the compulsion, then take steps to alleviate that issue. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, increase the length and frequency of his or her daily walks. If he or she is bored, find the best dog toys that give him or her a little more intellectual stimulation. As your dog’s moods even out, he or she should stop staring at the wall.
While we often have an idea of dogs as perpetually happy creatures, the truth is that they can also get depressed. Depression can look oddly similar to how it looks in humans, but sometimes the expressions might be a little different than you expect.
Some of the most common symptoms of dog depression include a lack of interest in favorite activities, infrequent eating, changes in sleeping habits, low energy, and excessively licking or chewing. Staring at a wall can also be a major symptom, as it is a sign of your dog withdrawing into himself or herself.
So, what do you do if your dog is depressed?
You need to make changes to your dog’s lifestyle to try to get him or her back to a more level mental state. You can start with switching him or her over to a healthier diet, then try to make sure that you give your dog more chances to exercise. Spending time outside is also a great idea to help a dog, as is just allowing the dog to spend more time with you when possible.
If nothing else works, you can always consult with your vet. Sometimes your dog might need more help than you can easily give.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or canine dementia , is a sadly prevalent condition among older dogs. As your dog starts to reach the end of his or her lifespan, he or she may naturally become forgetful and lose track of where he or she is. Staring at walls, then, may well be a sign that your dog is disoriented.
Dogs who experience canine dementia can have issues with their housetraining may forget the people who they know and might find themselves lost in their own homes. Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine dementia. All you can do in this case is make your home as safe for your aging pup as you can.
While we don’t usually think of staring at a wall as a sign of a seizure, it may well be one for your dog. If your dog is staring at the wall and cannot seem to move, you may be viewing a seizure – or at least the precursor to a bigger seizure event.
Some dogs will stare at the wall as an early part of a seizure. He or she will then transition to the more traditional seizure behaviors, which usually manifest as control over the dog’s limbs. In fact, the early staring may be a sign that your dog is still in control and trying to stay stable before the bigger event occurs.
If your dog has seizures, there is hope. There are a number of different causes to this condition, but there are also ways for treating seizures such as phenobarbital for dogs. It’s important to get your dog checked out if he or she is having seizures, though, as this condition can be a sign of something more serious like brain cancer.
If your dog is pressing his or her head against the wall instead of just staring at it, it’s time to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Head pressing is often an attempt by your dog to get rid of a feeling of pressure in his or her head.
The issues that typically cause head pressing can be quite severe. They range from head trauma or infections of the nervous system to brain tumors and encephalitis, so you absolutely have to take this behavior seriously.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wall Staring
Why Do Dogs Stare at Walls?
There can be a number of different causes for your dog’s behavior. He or she could be detecting something that you just can’t see behind the wall because of your limited human symptoms, but he or she might also be experiencing a serious medical emergency. You’ll need to pay attention to exactly what your dog is doing while starting to know the difference between the two and it’s never a bad idea to take your dog to the vet if he or she is staring at a wall without an apparent reason.
What Does it Look Like When a Dog Has a Stroke?
While your dog could be staring at a wall because he or she is having a stroke, the truth is that this is not one of the more common symptoms. Instead, dogs who are having strokes tend to have difficulty controlling their body and look quite lethargic. One of the biggest signs that your dog is having a stroke is a loss of focus in his or her eyes.
Why Did My Dog Start Behaving Oddly
Simply put, dogs are weird animals. It’s always a good idea to look at major changes in behavior, though, as some weird dog behaviors really are a sign that something is going on about which you need to be worried. If your dog does something odd once and then moves on with his or her day, you probably don’t need to be worried. If your dog repeats a certain behavior frequently, though, you’ll want to observe him or her to find out the cause. If you can’t figure out what’s causing your dog to act oddly, you may also want to take him or her to a vet.
Why is My Dog Staring into Space?
Some dogs will just stare at nothing because that’s what they do. In other cases, though, the fact that your dog seems to be staring at nothing may be a sign that something more significant is going on with him or her.
The easiest way to tell if this is a problem is to try to distract your dog. If you can get your dog’s attention easily, you’re probably just dealing with a dog who is zoning out. If he or she won’t look at you or is slow to respond, though, you might be dealing with a more significant problem.
Always look at ways that your dog’s behavior and life have changed before you panic about new behavior. In some cases, fixing the problem can be as simple as changing up your dog’s diet or getting more food. In other cases, though, you’ll want to check with a professional to rule out more significant problems.
What You Need to Know
The hardest thing about figuring out dog behavior is that dogs are honestly a little bit weird. Staring at a wall is definitely a disconcerting behavior that may make you worry, but you don’t necessarily need to rush towards a worst-case scenario if you catch your dog staring at a wall.
There are many reasons why your dog might stare at your walls, some of which you need to worry about and some of which you don’t. Your dog could be bored, could hear something behind the wall, or even just be feeling down. On the other hand, though, your dog could be dealing with very significant health problems that do require as much immediate help as possible.
At the end of the day, you need to observe your dog’s behavior to determine if you really need to get professional help. Most of the reasons why your dog would stare at a wall are, if not harmless, then certainly issues that can be managed at home. If your dog is pressing his or her head against the wall, though, it’s important that you get him or her medical help immediately as the causes here could be much more serious than those you could deal with at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does it mean when a dog just stares at nothing?
There are many potential answers to this question. In some cases, your dog is staring at nothing because he or she is just zoning out. In other cases, he or she is staring at nothing because he or she might hear or smell something that you can’t detect. Dogs might also stare into space because they are lethargic, bored, or even depressed. Some dogs stare at nothing because their cognitive facilities are declining, while others might be dealing with the precursors to a seizure.
2. Why is my dog acting weird all of a sudden?
Dogs are inherently weird animals. With that said, your dog’s decision to suddenly stare could have a number of potential reasons behind it. If your dog is staring intently at a wall, for example, there might be something behind that wall that your dog can hear or smell but that you cannot. Your dog might also be acting weird because something in his or her life has changed and he or she doesn’t know how to deal with it. If the new behavior seems to cause your dog distress, though, you will want to take him or her to the vet in order to get him or her checked out.
3. What is my dog staring at?
Your dog could be staring for a variety of reasons. He or she could hear or smell something, he or she might be depressed, or he or she might even be having a seizure. You’ll definitely want to see what your dog does directly after his or her spell of staring to get more information.
4. What are the symptoms of dementia in dogs?
There are many symptoms of dementia in dogs. Your dog might stare intently at the wall for long periods of time, have trouble navigating his or her house, or even start to forget the people and animals that he or she knows. This is distressingly common in dogs over ten and it’s something that can really be cured.