Dogs can exhibit a variety of behaviors that may seem odd to people. Some of these behaviors, such as staring at a wall, can be completely normal or have valid reasons for occurring while others can be an indication of a problem. If you notice, for example, that while you're watching your favorite show, your dog is staring at the wall where there appears to be nothing interesting, you probably don't have to worry. Still, it's good to know the reason
Why Do Dogs Stare At Walls?
Dogs may intermittently stare at a wall, and this behavior may be concerning to a pet owner. Sometimes the reason why a dog stares at a wall is simply because they see or hear something. In other cases, this behavior may actually be a sign of confusion or cognitive dysfunction, a seizure disorder, or a habitual behavior that has developed over time.
They Hear Something
Occasionally insects and rodents will get into the walls. If your dog hears something scurrying or scratching inside a wall, they may go to investigate and then stare at it. Dogs are able to hear much better than humans can so even if you don't hear anything, your dog may. If you notice this happening often, you might want to look into a possible pest problem.
They See Something
Insects crawling, shadows, and lights shining on a wall can all catch your dog's attention and cause them to stare at it. You may not notice the exact distraction at first, but if you watch where your dog is staring, you may find the reason for the stare.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Also referred to as doggy dementia, canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) can cause a dog to be confused or do things without a logical explanation. Some dogs with cognitive dysfunction will bark for no apparent reason, urinate in the house despite being housebroken, and even stare at walls. Similarly to people with Ahlzheimer's disease, cognitive dysfunction is not fully understood but is caused by changes in the brain as a dog ages. There are some supplements and diets that contain ingredients that may help dogs with CCD, and you should discuss these options with your veterinarian.
While many people only think of a seizure as uncontrollable shaking and a temporary loss of consciousness, seizures can actually look a variety of ways. Focal or partial seizures, for example, can be very subtle and even cause your dog to freeze while standing up and stare off into space. If this type of seizure occurs in your dog and they happen to be standing in front of a wall, a seizure may therefore look like your dog is staring at the wall.
Dogs can have seizures for a number of reasons, but if your dog has one that lasts for more than five minutes or has more than one seizure in a 24 hour period, you should bring your dog in to see a veterinarian. If a toxin is not a suspected cause of the seizure, medications, supplements, a dietary change, and various diagnostic tests may be warranted.
Compulsive behaviors are bad habits that don't result in any type of reward for a dog, yet they continue to do it. Licking, barking, flank sucking, circling, pacing, and even staring at a specific spot can become a habitual or compulsive behavior for a dog. This behavior can have a genetic predisposition, but thankfully staring at a wall doesn't usually have any sort of negative consequences.
While staring at a wall may not seem like a behavior that would reward a dog with attention, if your dog had somehow routinely received attention when it stared at a specific wall, then this could be an attention-seeking behavior. For example, if you have a dog camera that dispenses treats mounted on a shelf or wall, your dog may not know where the treat is coming from and associate the wall near where the treat appears as the source. If your dog wants a treat, it may therefore stare at the wall. To avoid reinforcing this type of behavior, make sure your dog isn't always getting a treat or attention in the same place in your home.
How to Stop Your Dog From Staring at the Wall
If you are concerned that your dog is staring at a wall because of a medical issue, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Before assuming it is simply an unwanted behavior, ensure there is not a medical reason for it to be occurring.