It may be funny sounding, but whale eyes may be a dog body language that you need to pay close attention to. Learn what it is, the signs, and what you can do about it.
What Are Whale Eyes In Dogs?
Dogs can’t talk, but they sure can communicate with us! If you learn and listen to canine body language and dog expressions, you’ll be able to understand your dog better. Whale eyes are described as a very wide, bulging eye in a dog, usually showing the whites (the sclera) of their eyes.
What Causes Whale Eyes?
It’s one of the most obvious dog expressions that is used to communicate that your dog is afraid or feel threatened. This is very similar to how humans can react to a scary or threatening situation. Humans, when faced with fear, often times will stiffen up and their eyes will become enlarged.
Whale eyes in dogs are often accompanied by an overall stiff facial expression and a closed mouth. Their ears may be pointed out or back and your dog may appear tense, as well. If you suspect your dog is exhibiting whale eyes, use caution, as this is well-known indicator of a fearful dog that may bite.
Situations That Lead to Whale Eyes
Any situation that your dog perceives as frightening, threatening or sometimes just extremely uncomfortable, could lead to them exhibiting whale eyes.
For example, the first time you trim your dog’s nails. If they are scared, they may show whale eyes to communicate this fear. Another situation could be attempting to teach your dog a new trick. If you are going too fast or pushing them too hard, you may notice whale eyes due to intimidation, confusion, or stress.
Many dogs do not appreciate being hugged, especially by strangers or small children. The strangers may present a threat to their family, while a child will often squeeze too hard, unknowingly. Both of these scenarios may be a situation where you will notice your dog giving whale eyes.
There are many different situations that may lead you to notice dog expressions such as whale eyes. Remember, this could mean that they are fearful or threatened and may bite to get out of the current situation.
Occasionally, a dog will have learned how to show the whites of their eyes while playing or being silly. This would not mean they are afraid or feel threatened. During play, they may have learned how to remain perfectly still and only move their eyes to look around. Many dogs master this trick, and many dog families find this humorous.
If you’re unsure whether it is a legitimate case of whale eyes or if your dog is just playing around, consider other factors. These includes the current situation, the people around them at that moment, and their other body language. If they are tense, mouth closed, and ears are back, it’s more than likely whale eyes they are displaying.
How to Handle Whale Eyes
If you think you see whale eyes in your dog, proceed with caution! Whale eyes usually precede a dog biting or showing teeth to protect themselves. Immediately, stop what you are doing and assess the situation to determine the possible cause. At this point, proceed cautiously and attempt to redirect your dog to something else to eliminate and alleviate the stress that is causing the whale eyes.
It is invaluable to learn how to read your dog’s body language. This will enable you to understand when something is causing them stress, when they are anxious, feel threatened or are afraid. Whale eyes is a dog expression that is fairly easy to notice. By taking note of their body signals, you could prevent someone from being bitten or simply improve your relationship with your dog by understanding them better.
Animal Magnetism is committed to helping owners and their pets have the best possible relationship through understanding. If you need any advice regarding your dog, we are happy to sit down with you and discuss any and everything from your dogs diet, traveling, pending vet visits, or whatever is on your mind. Give us a call today!