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Why Is My Dog Staring at the Wall?

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Dog Health By Kelsey Snyder 5 min read May 24, 2021

why is my dog staring at wall

Some canine behaviors are weirder than others, and your dog staring at walls is likely toward the top of the list. But believe it or not, as strange as it may be, there are several reasons why your dog might stare at a wall. 

We’ll share some of the most common reasons dogs stare at walls, so you’ll know when to worry and when your dog is likely just admiring the view.

Most Common Reasons Dogs Stare at the Wall

common reasons dogs stare at walls
Image from Reddit.

Many things could cause your dog to stare at a wall endlessly. Some are serious, like health problems, while others are completely harmless. Let’s dig into them together to get the scoop.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. As your dog ages, B-amyloid proteins build up rapidly in the brain, causing cell death and brain shrinkage. This may cause your dog to stare off into space or at walls. 

Other symptoms of CDS include:

Because CDS can share several symptoms with other geriatric conditions, it’s important to visit your vet for an examination if suspected. If CDS is diagnosed, your vet may prescribe dietary supplements and daily enrichment activities like puzzle games to help your pooch live his best life and remain engaged.

Diabetes

Diabetes comes in two forms in dogs: insulin-deficient and insulin-resistant. Insulin-deficient is the more common form in dogs, while insulin-resistant diabetes is typically seen in older, obese doggos. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness or seizures, two things that may be mistaken for your dog staring at a wall.

Other signs of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination or accidents around the house
  • Weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Depression

Luckily, diabetes can be treated using insulin injections, diet control, and regular exercise.

Kidney/Liver Disease

The kidneys and liver are responsible for ridding your dog’s body of toxins. A malfunction or disease in either can lead to depression or listlessness, sometimes resulting in your pupper staring off into space. These diseases have other noticeable symptoms, too, like:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Change in drinking habits
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody urine
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Any of these are cause for a vet visit. Treatment varies by disease, ranging from diet changes and medications to surgery.

Head-Pressing

This oddball behavior includes your dog pressing his forehead flush against the wall or other hard surfaces. While it looks comical, it warrants an immediate vet trip. Head-pressing can have several serious causes, including tumors, infection, head trauma, or poisoning.

reasons dogs may stare at walls
Image from Imgur.

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDS)

This is a condition that causes a rapid loss of vision as the retina deteriorates rapidly. SARDS and other conditions resulting in a loss of sight can make it appear that your dog is staring off into space. Unfortunately, little is known about the cause of SARDS. Other symptoms of SARDS include:

  • Bumping into furniture
  • Pacing
  • Standing still
  • Disorientation
  • Clingy behavior
  • Lethargy

Sadly, there is no treatment for SARDS, and all sufferers will ultimately become totally blind

Seizures

Most people think seizing requires convulsions or excessive drooling, but some seizures are scarily silent, marked only by your dog staring off into space at random. These are called focal seizures, and they’re tricky to catch or diagnose. If you notice your dog staring at the wall along with any of these symptoms, give your vet a call immediately:

  • Face twitching
  • Disorientation
  • Strange movements in one limb or on one side of your dog’s body
  • Loss of sight
  • Staggering or falling

Caused by poisoning, head injury, or underlying conditions like cancer or epilepsy, seizures can often be treated using medications. 

Hearing or Smelling Something in the Wall

dogs may stare at walls because they hear things

It’s important to remember that some of our dogs’ senses — including smelling and hearing — are far more powerful than ours. Your pooch may simply hear or smell something in the wall that we don’t, like squirrels, mice, or even termites.

If it’s a particular spot in the wall your dog is obsessed with, it might be a good idea to take a listen for yourself with your ear pressed against it. A termite or other pest inspection might not be a bad idea either.

Compulsive Disorder

Like us, dogs can suffer from compulsive disorders. Marked by compulsive behaviors like excessive grooming, pacing, or staring, these disorders can make your poor pupper miserable, especially if he starts self-harming by paw chewing or licking. Always mention compulsive behaviors to your vet. Anxiety medications or natural dog calming supplements may help.

General Doggo Weirdness

Plain and simple: Some dogs are weirdos.

My senior Pekingese mix, Taj, will sometimes stare at the wall, a habit he started in puppyhood. Along with standing like a prairie dog and scream-singing at random, it’s just an oddball quirk of his. For many fur kids, this is the case. Some dog behaviors are just strange. 

But that’s part of the reason we love them so much.  

Ghosts 

Spooky stories around the internet would like us all to think this is plausible, but take this with a grain of salt.

If your dog gets a clean bill of health, you rule out rodents, and you refuse to believe your four-footer is a wall-staring freak, maybe you might entertain the possibility of an otherworldly visitor.

In that case, you might want to burn some sage or contact a priest. That’s what Google suggests, at least. This is admittedly a bit outside our expertise, so let us know what works.

dog staring at the wall for no reason
Image from Reddit.

You’re more than welcome to keep your ghostly guest, too. Maybe he’ll help entertain your pooch or clean up the doggy diamonds outback.

Just remember that it’s always a good idea to report any strange behaviors to your vet and discuss bringing your pup in for a thorough exam, just in case. 

Need Veterinary Help Fast?

Don’t have easy access to a vet? You may want to consider getting help from JustAnswer — a service that provides instant virtual-chat access to a certified vet online.

You can discuss the issue with them, and even share video or photos if need be. The online vet can help you determine what your next steps should be.

While talking with your own vet — who understands the ins and outs of your dog’s history — is probably ideal, JustAnswer is a good backup option.

Do You Need to Worry About Your Dog Staring at a Wall?

While many of the potential causes of wall-watching are downright terrifying, don’t automatically fear the worst.

If your dog’s wall-staring is a one-off episode of paint-admiring, and he’s not showing any other symptoms, your dog is probably fine. But for repeated wall-staring with or without other symptoms, contact your vet for a thorough exam.

***

Is your woofer a wall watcher? Is it tied to anything serious, or is he just a wonderful little weirdo? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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