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Why Is My Dog Staring At Nothing?

Do you regularly catch your dog staring at what seems to be nothing—fixing his glance on a wall, window or some other object for no perceivable reason whatsoever?

Does this odd behavior concern you?

If it does, please take comfort in the fact that you—and your dog—are certainly not alone.

Truth be told, there are thousands of dog owners throughout the country and world that have, at least at times, witnessed this same type of behavior in their lovable pooch.

And you’ll be happy to know this staring into space at nothing is actually quite common for the canine set.

To back up this claim, below we have listed several reasons why dogs can seemingly “space out” like this, and provide a few tips on how you can address the phenomenon should it start to worry you.

Why Is My Dog Staring Into Space At Nothing?

As we said in the intro, there are several reasons why dogs can fixate their stare on what you deem to be nothing whatsoever.

To help explain this phenomenon, below we have outlined and explained several of these reasons.

Dogs Have Superior Hearing

If your dog is staring intently at a wall or a window—staring at something you cannot immediately see—it may be because your dog hears something that is simply out of your auditory range.

Believe it or not, if a dog is staring blankly at a wall, he is probably not communicating with a ghost, unless, of course, you currently inhabit the old “Amityville Horror” house.

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No, there’s a better chance that he or she actually hears some activity in the wall, activity that may be caused by insects or other small animals trapped within.

Bugs like bees, termites and wasps, along with small rodents like mice, squirrels or even baby raccoons, can sometimes find their way into the walls of our homes.

These creatures, as they buzz or move about, can make sounds that are outside of our own auditory range, but smack dab in the middle of your dog’s range.

According to experts from the American Kennel Club, dogs can hear frequencies ranging from 40 Hertz on the low end of the spectrum, to a whopping 60,000 Hertz on the opposite end.

Humans, on the other hand, have an auditory range of just 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz.

The simple translation of these figures mean that your pooch has hearing capabilities that are as much as three times greater than your own.

So, other than the frequency range, why do dogs possess such extraordinary hearing capabilities?

First, dogs have a tremendous ear shape advantage over their human counterparts.

Dogs have larger ears than humans, which allow them to pick up on more sound.

Still more, there are some breeds who possess ears that are even larger than some of their own canine brethren.

It is no surprise, then, that these larger-ear dogs have even better hearing.

Another auditory advantage dogs have is the placement of their ears.

While we mortal humans have stationary ears that are placed flat against our heads, dogs can actually move their ears in a variety of directions, allowing them to focus on and take in more sounds than do we.

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Some dogs even have ears that remain constantly erect—like the Doberman Pinscher.

This genetic advantage allows those breeds to hear better than humans—and also better than, say, beagles, whose floppy ears are never erect.

Lastly, when compared humans, dogs can pick up on sounds over a greater degree of distance.

While we can hear sounds from up to 20 feet away—assuming the sounds are very loud—dogs can actually hear noises from 80 feet away.

This is why dogs can often alert you to someone at the door well before that person knocks or rings your doorbell.

A dog looking out the window—at what you deem to be nothing—may actually be hearing sounds from two houses away, sounds we humans are not privy to because of the distance.

So, the next time your dog is staring at nothing, consider their ear shape, their ability to hear at higher frequencies and their incredible range of audible distance.

They may just be staring at something you cannot hear.

Your Dog Is Sick, Aging or Both

While superior hearing can sometimes cause dogs to stare blankly at walls, windows or other objects, there are also some medical reasons that can explain this phenomenon.

One of these reasons is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, or CDS for short.

This medical condition typically affects older dogs, but it can also be present in younger dogs in very rare instances.

CDS is a type of senility or dementia that is characterized by strange behavior and fading mental faculties.

This cognitive decline is said to be present in upwards of 25 percent of dogs over the age of 12.

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The syndrome is progressive, meaning the early symptoms will be very mild and benign, but these symptoms will progressively get worse as your dog continues to age.

So how do you know your pet is suffering from this form of “doggie dementia?”

A definitive diagnosis can be offered only by your pet health specialist, but you can often spot these symptoms, which can include staring blankly at walls and other objects, even in the absence of a definitive diagnosis.

Some of tell-tale symptoms include:

  • Potty accidents indoors.  As the mental faculties of your dog declines, he may forget the house-training rules he is supposed to follow.
  • Disorientation.  If your dog engages in odd behavior, it could be that he is disoriented with the world around him.  This can also affect his interactions with both humans and other pets.
  • Poor sleep.  CDS can often interfere with a dog’s usual sleep patterns.  He may sleep more during the day and less at night because of these disruptions.

While there is no cure for CDS, your vet can show you different ways to help your dog cope with the condition.

In addition to CDS, there are some other health conditions that can help explain away behavior such as staring into space.

Mild seizures, for example, can often bring about odd behavior in your dog, as can compulsive disorders that are behaviorally rooted.

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