I'm liking the dog photo even more.
The intensity of the stare, whatever is being looked at, it's like tunnel vision, really focused.
As I'm looking at the photo, obviously from camera/photographer's view, I really want to 'snick', finger pop, whistle, call the dog or something, see it's ears perk up as it's head snaps right. I almost expect to see this action from this still.
So, there's not only curiosity about what the dog is watching, there's anticipation of the very next instant. And this is no way trying to say that I think the dog should be looking at the camera in this photo, dog's pose speaks (barks?) eloquently candid as is.
Newbie's lenses; got a 35, 40 or 50? If so, mount it up, see how long you can work with just that, you'll learn lots.
Often you'll not be able to get 'enough' of a scene in the viewfinder, you'll have to decide on the spot what's most important to include, what parts are forgettable. Not to mention the zoom with your feet thing which includes sideways, up and down as much as fore and aft.