Why Does My Dog Close His Mouth When I Look at Him?

As a devoted dog owner, you may have noticed your furry friend closing his mouth when you make eye contact with him. 

It’s a fascinating behavior that might leave you wondering about its underlying meaning. Dogs communicate with us through a combination of body language, vocalizations, and facial expressions. 

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind why your dog closes his mouth when you look at him and what it conveys about his emotions and communication.

A Natural Response

When a dog closes his mouth upon making eye contact with you, it’s often a natural, instinctive response. In the canine world, direct eye contact can be interpreted as a sign of dominance or confrontation. 

By closing their mouths, dogs are indicating that they don’t wish to challenge your authority or provoke any conflict. This behavior is especially common in dogs that have been properly socialized and have learned to respect human boundaries.

Submissive Behavior

Closing the mouth while making eye contact can also be an expression of submission. In the animal kingdom, submissive gestures are a way for individuals to show respect and defer to a more dominant figure. 

When your dog exhibits this behavior, he is conveying that he acknowledges you as the leader of the pack and is deferring to your authority.

Avoiding Threatening Signals

For some dogs, maintaining eye contact can be intimidating or even threatening. By closing their mouths, dogs may be trying to avoid any misinterpretation of their intentions. 

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They could be signaling that they mean no harm and are not looking for a confrontation.

Relaxed and Content Body Language

A dog closing his mouth while looking at you can also be a sign of relaxation and contentment. Just like humans, dogs have different facial expressions for various emotions. 

A soft, closed mouth often accompanies a relaxed body posture and a wagging tail, suggesting that your dog is happy and at ease in your presence.

Trust and Bonding

Making eye contact with your dog and observing the mouth-closing behavior can deepen the bond between you. When a dog closes his mouth while maintaining eye contact, it shows that he trusts you and feels safe in your company. 

Trust is an essential element in any human-dog relationship, and this behavior indicates that your dog has faith in your intentions.

Calming Signal

Dogs use various calming signals to communicate their desire for harmony and to diffuse potential tension. 

Closing the mouth can be one of these calming signals, indicating that your dog wants to maintain a harmonious environment and is not seeking any form of conflict.

Previous Negative Experiences

Some dogs may close their mouths when you look at them because of previous negative experiences. If they’ve encountered stressful situations, scolding, or punishment when making eye contact, they may learn to associate it with unpleasant outcomes. 

In such cases, the mouth-closing behavior is a coping mechanism to avoid potential reprimands.


Your dog’s behavior, including the act of closing his mouth when you look at him, is a fascinating aspect of canine communication. It’s essential to remember that each dog is unique and may have individual reasons for displaying this behavior. 

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In most cases, the mouth-closing behavior signifies respect, submission, and a desire for harmony.

By understanding and respecting your dog’s communication cues, you can strengthen your bond and create a positive, trusting relationship. As with any behavior, it’s always beneficial to observe your dog’s overall body language and consider the context to gain a comprehensive understanding of what your furry companion is trying to convey. 

So, the next time your dog closes his mouth during eye contact, you’ll know that it’s a reflection of his respect, trust, and desire for a peaceful interaction.