Whale eye refers to a body language signal where the dog shows the whites of his eyes. This is a warning signal and is often accompanied by hard eyes, freezing, stiffening up, and/or growling.
Obviously, this is somewhat breed specific. Many brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs, such as Pugs and Shih Tzus, will naturally have the whites of their eyes exposed due to the structure of their skull. However, if they begin to show more white than normal or if you notice other warning signals, they are likely displaying whale eyes.
If you see your dog displaying this body language, back off and figure out what prompted it. Was your dog guarding something? Was he uncomfortable with how you were touching or interacting with him? Is he sore or experiencing pain?
Whatever you do, make sure you never punish a dog who is displaying warning signals. Instead, figure out why he is warning you and do something to change his emotional response to whatever was upsetting him so that it no longer bothers him.
What situations has your dog displayed whale eye in? Please share in the comments below!