Why Is My Dog Staring at the Ceiling?

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Dogs are an incredibly mysterious and intuative species, often exhibiting weird behaviours that leave us humans scratching our heads.

One question that often comes up is, why is my dog staring at the ceiling?

You see, the reason why dogs are so interested in ceilings could range from not-so-harmful to extremely worrying.

Before you start panicking, take a deep breath! Your faithful companion is likely to be perfectly fine.

Here’s what you need to know.

why is my dog staring at the ceiling

Why is my dog staring at the ceiling?

From the most obvious to the more obscure, here are nine reasons why your dog may be staring at the ceiling.

Infestation

You probably already know this, but dogs have incredible senses. They can hear, see, and smell things that often pass by humans completely undetected.

That being said, chances are very high that your pup heard something crawling across your roof or in your ceiling. The simplest solution here is to examine the issue yourself as best as you can.

If you also happen to hear something chittering about, whether it be within your ceiling, walls, or floors, definitely try to reach out to an exterminator as soon as possible.

Neighbors

If you live in a building with thin walls, it could be that your dog is staring at the ceiling because they can hear the neighbors above you moving around and talking.

Remember, dogs are very sensitive to sounds and can hear even the tiniest things.

This could also be the case if you live in a multi-story home and your dog is hearing something going on in another room.

Attention seeking

More often than not, the end goal of a dog acting in a particular way is to receive attention and affection.

If you find yourself praising your dog, talking to your dog, or even looking at your dog a bit more than usual when they stare up at the ceiling, they may treat it as a behavior that they can use in order to get what they want.

The breeze

If you’ve ever traveled with a dog in the car, you may have seen them stick their head out the window and enjoy the wind in their face.

Your dog may be looking up simply because they just want to feel the breeze coming in through an open window, fan, or air vent.

Eye irritants

If your dog has recently been outside, they may be staring at the ceiling because a bug or a piece of dust has landed in their eye and they’re trying to work it out.

You may also notice them rubbing their eyes with their paws or squinting.

The paranormal

As I stated in the first section, dogs have senses that far surpass our own1.

It’s for that reason many people believe that our furry friends can feel the presence of spirits. While not based in science, I felt that this point was worth mentioning on behalf of any believers out there.

If you find your dog appearing anxious as they stare up at your ceiling, it’s far more likely that they are smelling or hearing something that rubs them the wrong way, but I’m also not going to discredit anyone’s experience.

Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD)

Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) is the dog version of our OCD.

With CCD, your dog will begin to develop a series of repetitive actions or hyperfixations due to boredom. CCD is difficult to diagnose, but there are many symptoms that you can consider when watching your dog’s behaviors.

Behaviors often demonstrated in dogs with CCD include:

  • spinning
  • tail chasing
  • fly biting
  • barking
  • pacing
  • or chewing on themselves

They may also stare off into space or up at the ceiling, possibly as though they’re tracking the changes in the lights and shadows.

If you find your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, especially over a long period of time, it’s best to contact your vet immediately for a screening.

Because there’s no cure, you’ll only be able to find the means to manage CCD.

Most vets will recommend pharmaceutical treatment accompanied with training related directly to your dog’s obsessive behavior. When left unchecked, CCD can directly affect a dog’s quality of life to the point where it could even lead to euthanization.

If we’re strictly examining the problem of staring at the ceiling or watching for lights, your dog may wear themself down beyond repair by tilting their head back or chasing the lights so often.

If you can train your dog to lay down and avoid the triggers for their obsessive behavior, then there may be some relief for them.

Partial seizure

There are a few more problems that could be connected to staring straight ahead, specifically.

If your dog often stares into space, whether it’s at the ceiling or the wall, they could be experiencing what’s known as a partial seizure.

These seizures aren’t often life-threatening, but they could result from more concerning complications, such as cancer or ingestion of poison.

See a vet right away if you notice a pattern in how often your dog zones out.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)

CDS is most similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

If you have an elderly dog who stares at walls or at the ceiling for no reason, you may need to contact your vet to see if they can conduct a screening for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).

With CDS, your dog may seem disoriented, change how they interact around people, show a difference in their sleep patterns, or forget certain aspects of their house training.

If your vet suspects that your dog has CDS, they will likely recommend an increase in playtime for both physical and mental stimulation. They may also provide your dog with a new, antioxidant-packed diet.

In summary

If your dog is staring at the ceiling it could be out of sheer curiosity or because they want something. Alternatively, it could also be a sign of an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed by a vet.

You, above anyone else, are familiar with your dog’s set of behaviors.

This is why it’s incredibly important for you to always keep track of their actions and mark behaviors that you find a little odd or out of the ordinary.

With staring at the ceiling, it’s definitely likely that your dog is just being a dog. However, always reach out to your vet if you find yourself having concerns.

Sources

  1. Do Pets Have a Sixth Sense? — VCA Animal Hospitals

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About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.