11 Reasons Your Collie Stares At You (What It Really Means)

Collies are known for being intense dogs and will often be found staring at passers-by or cars but what does it really mean when your collie stares at you?

Collies are high-energy working dogs who rely on their keen eyesight to follow movement and are hardwired to be drawn to movement.

Collies stare at you if they need something, they are trying to get your attention, because they are waiting for instructions, or just because they love you. Collies have high levels of emotional intelligence, so when they catch your eye, you can be sure they are trying to communicate with you in some way.

In this article, we are going to explore the wide range of reasons that a collie might stare at you. We will look at the subtleties to help differentiate between different stares and what each one means.

Why Collies Stare At You

1. They Need Something

If your collie is staring at you, it could indicate they need something. Dogs can’t speak, their main mode of communication is body language which is exactly how they express their needs and how they ask their owners for something.

Some dogs are more vocal than others. As working dogs who rely mostly on their vision to do their job, it’s an important and often favored means of communication for them.

It’s helpful to pay attention to their placement when they’re staring at you to work out what they need. If they’re by their empty food or water dish they may need replenishing or if they’re standing by the door staring at you, they might be asking for a toilet break.

Luna stares when she wants to play!

2. They Trust You

Collies are naturally sensitive dogs, they bond very strongly with their owners and will often stare at you when they trust you.

It’s similar to how children have safety blankets to help them feel comfortable, staring at you helps your dog to feel relaxed and safe. They know no harm will come to them when you’re nearby.

3. They Are Curious

Collies are curious animals, it’s their job to be able to take in a lot of information quickly while herding so they have a natural predisposition to soak in information by watching.

They might just be curious if you’re doing something new or different they’re not used to or they might be learning. If you happen to be getting food out of the refrigerator, don’t be surprised to find your collie trying to do the same thing later to steal a few snacks.

4. They Need Reassurance

If a collie trusts you and you make them feel comfortable, they will often stare at you if they need some reassurance.

Collies are prone to being anxious dogs, their high energy and sensitivity mean that one experience can have an impact on their behavior overall.

It’s not uncommon for one negative experience with another dog to have an effect on how they view all dogs.

Everything will be OK… it’s just a bath!

5. They Love You

Collies will often stare at the people who they love and make them feel most comfortable.

A worried stare will look like large, round eyes and you can sometimes see the whites of their eyes. A loving stare might be more relaxed with almond-shaped or squinted eyes that are a lot softer.

6. They Are Aggressive

It’s very uncommon for a collie to show aggression towards family members who they trust but staring can be a sign of aggression in collies.

It’s usually a hard, unblinking stare. The rest of the dog’s body language will let you know it’s not friendly. Signs a dog is escalating to using aggression are raised hackles, baring teeth, and a lowered body position that is usually leaning forward.

Whenever a dog displays any of these, give them space. They’re all signs that a dog is trying to increase the distance between itself and whatever is causing it to become distressed.

Backing away will usually deescalate the situation and give you time to assess what upset them.

7. They Are Bored

Collies are smart, notoriously so and as a result, tend to get bored easily. A bored collie will stare at its owner waiting for them to give them something to do or be entertaining.

A bored collie can quickly become a problem collie when they find their own things to do so giving them interactive toys and enrichment helps to keep them occupied.

They’re bred to be able to work long hours so when they spend a large amount of time with nothing to do, they may start looking to you for entertainment.

What do you mean it’s not a toy!?

8. Herding Instinct

Collies are bred to herd. No matter how far removed from active working dogs they are, many of them still have the instinct to the herd which can start with intense staring.

The instinct to herd will usually be triggered by movement. Collies are bred to want to control the movement of things, usually animals but when there’s no outlet for this behavior, it can result in them trying to round up traffic or you.

If your collie is staring at you intensely, they may escalate into other herding behaviors like circling you, nudging you in the right direction or making you speed up, and even nipping at your ankles.

9. Waiting for Instructions

Collies love to interact with their owners, especially through training. During a training session, they will usually be staring at you waiting for their next command.

Collies are very visual dogs and so pay a lot of attention to the body language and cues given by their handlers.

Even if you train predominantly through voice cues, collies pick up on the slightest change in your posture or where you stand to try and guess what might be coming next.

10. They’re confused

Collies with a soft stare, tilted heads and pricked ears may look cute but in fact, they are waiting to hear what’s next, and waiting for you to clarify.

When you’ve just given them a command and you don’t get a response, it could mean they don’t understand. You can easily re-train your collie to respond.

11. They’re begging

If you feel your collie companion staring at you as you’re eating, it may be because they’re looking for a little taste of whatever it is you’re eating.

Dogs have always been loyal companions and they’ll often want to share their food with their owners, whether you’re sitting at the dinner table or snack in front of the TV.

Don’t make the mistake of giving in and feeding your dog during those moments, it could lead to a bad habit.

Please may I have a treat?


Should I Be Worried If My Collie Stares At Me?

Dogs stare for a variety of different reasons, even more so when they’re working dogs who rely heavily on their eyesight. They’re intelligent animals who collect a lot of information visually so it’s perfectly normal for your collie to stare at you.

Why Does My Collie Stare at Other People?

Collies are sensitive dogs who are trained to be very aware of their surroundings. They’re naturally untrusting of new people so will often watch them closely to work out if they’re a threat or not.

Why Does My Collie Stare at Cats?

The drive to want to chase movement is bred into collies so they will often watch anything that moves if they think they might get a good game of chase out of it. It’s normal for collies to want to herd small animals and cats are often a firm favorite as they give good chase if your collie has ever tried to herd one.

Meow… Collies have a strong chase instinct.

Conclusion – Why Your Collie Stares At You

Collies stare for a number of reasons. As a breed, they are more inclined to take their cues from visual stimuli but also need reassurance from their owners more than some other breeds.

They like to take in their surroundings so staring usually isn’t an issue when it comes to their behavior.

Collies stare at you for the following reasons:

  • They need something from you
  • They trust you
  • They are curious
  • They need reassurance
  • They love you
  • They are aggressive
  • They are bored
  • They have a strong herding instinct
  • They are waiting on instructions from you
  • They are confused
  • They are begging (for treats or a toy!)

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!