My Dog Keeps Looking Up And Around (12 Reasons and Solutions)

Dogs give us owners incredible companionship, they’re always there for us when we need them. They provide us with protection and make us feel loved. It’s no wonder they are our best friends.

Dogs also do some silly things that make us laugh and keep us wondering what they’re thinking. Some, play fetch or bark at flies. Others might run around in circles or hide out in the bathtub. No matter what they’re doing, dogs usually bring a smile to our faces even if we’re muttering ‘What are you up to now?’ at the same time.

Being a good dog owner doesn’t mean just playing fetch with your pooch.  You also need to figure out what those odd behaviors your dog does mean. Your dog might be acting like a goofy dog, or she could be telling you she has anxiety or a medical problem.  

So what about looking up and around? Why do dogs look up and around? Sometimes seemingly at nothing! Like most things dogs do, there can be more than one answer and you’ll need to take into account all of their behavior to narrow down the reason.  

Being Observant

You might see your dog looking up and around and think she’s lost, but in reality, she is taking it all in.  Dogs are very observant creatures.  When your dog looks up and around, she could be trying to figure out what’s going on in her surroundings.

Some dogs are also quick to pick up patterns.  For instance, one of my dogs knows that if I get my truck keys, we’re going for a ride.   He’ll see me make my way to the key holder in the mud room and run to the door to wait. 

Picking up patterns is much easier to do when for dogs to do when they take the time to observe what is going on. 

Something Got Her Attention

Most dogs like to know what is going on around them. If a dog’s nose, ears, or eyes picked something up, she’ll likely investigate more by looking up and around.

Smell

When your dog looks up and around, something may have caught her attention.  It could be a sound, movement, or something that she smells. 

Dogs have a much better sense of smell than we do, so it’s not surprising that they would be alerted to smells we’re unaware of. 

If you see your dog looking up and around and sniffing the air, she’s likely trying to figure out what that smell is.

They even say dogs can smell bugs inside of walls! Remember, just because you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean your dog can’t.

Sound

If a dog’s ears are perked up and she’s looking around, she might have heard something. Dogs also have much better hearing than we do, so it’s not surprising that they would try to hone in on a sound from afar. 

If you see your dog looking up and around, with her ears perked up and her head tilted, she could be trying to figure out where that sound is coming from.

Sight

Dogs are also quick to pick up on movement. If something moved, even if it’s just a leaf blowing in the wind, your dog will probably scrutinize it by looking up and around.

This is a dog sense that dogs are lacking compared to us. So while you might see something like a shadow very clearly, your dog won’t and will need to investigate it further.

Bugs

Just because you don’t hear or see it, it doesn’t mean that a bug might have your dog’s attention. While we may not think twice about a little fly buzzing around, your dog might be trying to figure out what that thing is. If you see your dog looking up and around at seemingly nothing, it might just be a bug.

Medical Problems

Illness and injury can both change a dog’s behavior, so if you see your dog looking up and around more than she used to, it might be time for a trip to the vet.

Star Gazing

Sometimes, looking up and around is known as star gazing.  While there is no exact definition of star gazing, you can picture what it is just from the name.  One cause of star gazing is that a dog is suffering from a gastrointestinal issue.

Fortunately, gastrointestinal diseases that cause star gazing in dogs are usually treatable  If your dog is displaying signs of star gazing, you may want to take them to the vet for an evaluation. With proper treatment, most dogs make a full recovery and return to their normal behavior.

Seeing Things

Just like you, a dog’s mind can play tricks on it.  If a dog is tired or the light isn’t great, she might see things that aren’t actually there.  It’s similar to when dogs bite at flies or something else that isn’t there too.

While seeing things alone isn’t likely a sign your dog needs to be rushed to the emergency room, watch your dog’s other behaviors for more clues.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux could mean your dog is simply more comfortable in a position with her head held up as if she is looking around at things.   If you see your dog displaying this behavior and also see other signs of acid reflux, such as decreased appetite or licking her lips, talk to your vet.

Dogs with acid reflux often improve with medication and changes in diet. In more serious cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized for treatment.

Eye Problems

Dogs could be looking up and around because something is bothering an eye.  Normally, if this is the only symptom, whatever is bothering your dog’s eye is likely very mild.

It could be a long eyelash that is touching the eye or a small bit of dirt.  If you can’t see anything, you may wish to get dog-safe eye drops. Be sure to follow the directions to not make things worse.

Other Issues

Your dog could have a sore neck or many other mild problems that could make looking up more comfortable.  If it is something mild, odds are it will work itself out before you notice enough to worry.

As with most of your dog’s odd behaviors, don’t get yourself upset thinking something is terribly wrong without ruling out other issues and consulting with a vet first. 

If you have observed other changes and are worried there is a medical problem, consult with your vet as soon as possible. 

Behavioral Issues

Two behavior issues rear their heads occasionally that could cause a dog to look up and around more frequently. 

Looking For Reassurance

If you’ve recently moved, had a baby, or in any other way made your dog feel displaced, they could be ‘acting out’. 

While this behavior isn’t harmful, it can be especially frustrating.  The best way to deal with it is to provide your dog with plenty of love and attention.

Obsessive Compulsive Behavior

Dogs sometimes do some really weird things when they are bored. If they do it enough times, it can become a habit or even an obsession. This is called obsessive compulsive behavior.

Many things can cause a dog to develop this, but the most common is boredom. If your dog is looking up and around obsessively, she might just be bored.

The best way to deal with this is to provide your dog with plenty of toys, attention, and exercise.  If the behavior persists, you may wish to consult with a veterinary behaviorist.

What If My Dog Only Looks Up And Around Outside?

If your dog only does this when she’s outside, it’s likely there is something that catches her attention or that she enjoys seeing that can only be seen and done outside.

One of my dogs loves to bark at and chase birds that are flying over the yard.  When there isn’t one close enough, he’ll often sit, staring up at the sky looking all over for the next bird that is headed our way. 

If I didn’t take the time to observe him doing this and then see the results when a bird flies overhead, it would seem that my dog was a little bit kooky when he goes outside, but fortunately, after watching him I know that isn’t the case.

Why Is My Dog Staring At The Ceiling

Similar to being outside, if your dog keeps staring at one ceiling or one specific spot on the ceiling, there is likely something of interest there.

Remember, dogs have much worse vision than we do, so there may be something on the ceiling that isn’t interesting to us but is to your dog, like a spider web with a few gnats in it. 

There also might be something else catching your dog’s attention that wouldn’t even cross your mind as being interesting, like a ceiling fan.  Your dog may be curious as to what that thing blowing air around the house is.

Is It Okay For Dogs To Look Up And Around?

Generally, it is okay for dogs to look up and around.

However, if your dog suddenly started displaying this behavior or if it is accompanied by other odd behaviors, go through the issues outlined in this article to see if something is going on with your good girl.  If you still can’t figure it out, you may wish to consult with a vet to rule out any potential medical problems.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Looking Up And Around?

Training your dog to not do something can sometimes be difficult.  However, with some work, it is possible.  First start with positive reinforcement, when you tell your dog to not look up (either with the ‘No Command’ or another command) reward her with lots of pets and a treat for listening to you.

Next, don’t forget about the power of distractions. When it comes to a good toy many dogs will instantly forget about whatever it was they were looking at and go for the toy instead.

If you have tried these things and your dog is still struggling, you may need to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to get some help. 

Final Thoughts: Why Do Dogs Look Up And Around?

Dogs look up and around for a variety of reasons. Some are medical, some are behavioral, but most often it’s just because they’re curious creatures that want to take in all the sights and smells around them.

If your dog is only doing this when she is outside, there likely is something that catches her attention or that she enjoys seeing that can only happen outside.

If you want your dog to stop and you have tried positive reinforcement and distractions but your dog is still looking up and around, you may need to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to get some help.

If your dog is displaying this behavior and it’s accompanied by other strange behaviors, consult with your vet to rule out any potential medical problems. Otherwise, enjoy your dog’s curious nature and be thankful that you have a pup that loves to take in all the world has to offer.

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