If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly telling your dog how much you love him. You’re constantly showering him with love and affection. Buying him new toys, getting him the healthiest dog food, choosing the most expensive beds…all because of the amount of love you have for your dog.
When you love someone, you want them to KNOW you love them. So that naturally leads to the question of whether or not your dog knows you love them.
Thanks to a field of study called canine cognition, we can say that your dog absolutely DOES know you love them. Oxytocin is a chemical the brain releases that’s commonly referred to as the “love chemical”. This is the chemical that gets released when we are with or even think about a person we love. Dogs release this same chemical when they are with us. This means they understand everything we do for them is out of love. Better yet, it also shows us they also feel the love toward us! So not only does your dog know you love them, but they love you as well.
Signs Your Dog Feels The Love
For some of us (myself included), knowing the science isn’t enough. We want to know the signs to look for that let us know our dogs do know we love them. If you’re someone that trusts signs over science, here are a few things to look for.
If you catch your dog quietly staring at you, they’re essentially hugging you with their eyes. Sounds silly, but when a dog stares at someone they love, it releases oxytocin. They’re letting you know that they love you and appreciate the love you have for them.
This is the main reason we get a dog, right? To snuggle with them! Or am I the only one?! Either way, most dog owners love snuggle time with their pooch. If your dog either lays in your lap for the snuggle or accepts your attempt at snuggling without trying to get away, that’s a big sign that love is both accepted and returned.
Have you ever walked into a room and your dog’s tail begins to softly wag? I’m not talking about the type of uncontrollable wagging that happens when they’re playing or when they’re about to be fed…just a slow, gentle wag when they look at you.
This happens because they’re happy to see you. If a dog is happy to see you even though they aren’t about to be fed, they know you love them.
We often think about dogs licking us as “doggie kisses”, but dogs don’t comprehend kisses in the same way we do. When a dog licks you, they’re actually attempting to groom you. Dogs will only do this to members they accept in their pack. They’re trying to keep you healthy and clean. They know you do the same for them and they want to reciprocate.
The Doggie Lean
I LOVE it when dogs do this to me. Dog’s don’t hug like we do, but if they lean into you while you’re leg while your standing or your hip while you’re sitting down, that’s their version of a hug. You can hug them back by placing one arm around them. Be careful with a two arm hug, some dogs don’t like the feeling of being trapped.
Ways to Show Extra Love to your Dog
Now that you know your dog knows you love them, the next question you might have is “What can I do when I want to tell my dog I love them?”
There are several things you can do to communicate to your dog that you love them. Start with the ones below and see which one your dog responds to the most. Use the signs we talked about above to figure out which method below works best for your dog.
Spend Time With Them
A dog that loves you just wants to be near you. A simple act of letting your dog lay down on your lap while you watch TV is enough to show them how much you love them. Other ways you can spend time with them include taking them on a walk or playing with them.
Previously in this article, we talked about how when a dog licks you, it’s their way of grooming you. They would only do this to someone they accepted as part of their pack. When you brush or groom your dog, they’ll view it as a sign of love…even if they don’t like it at the moment! They know you are doing it for their own good.
Return The Excitement
If you’ve been gone all day, your pooch is going to be excited when you walk through the door. This is a great opportunity to show your dog how much you love them by reciprocating that same excitement.
Dogs are great at reading human body language. If you walk through the door and completely ignore them, they won’t feel any love. On the other hand, if you walk through that door and greet them with the same excitement they greeted you with, they’ll know you love them.
We already talked about how a dog staring at you is one of their ways of showing affection and love toward you. If you catch your dog doing this, stare back at them. The dog will know this is your way of returning the affection.
However, only do this with a dog that already trusts you. If they don’t trust you or aren’t comfortable around you, they’ll view it as a threat, not a sign of love.
Surprise Them With New Toys
Who doesn’t love a new toy! Next time you want to show love for your dog, bring home a new toy and let them play with it for as long as they want. Your dog already knows you love them by how much you take care of their physical needs. But when your dog notices you bring home something just for them, it’s going to show them how much you care about them being happy as well as healthy.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words…or Do They?
Growing up, I was told that what someone says to a dog doesn’t matter. All that matters is the person’s tone of voice when saying it. Turns out this is wrong!
Dogs learn a lot more words than we give them credit for. Eventually, most dogs will learn what the word “love” means. When they’re constantly around family members that say the words “love you” and then show affection towards each other right after, they connect the words “love you” with affection.
When you tell your dog you love them, some dogs will actually know what you’re saying! This was proven by a study back in the early 2000s. Researchers would say various words to dogs that come from a loving home. When they said the word “love”, dopamine would be released in the dog’s brain.
Can Positive Training Show My Dog I Love Them?
Not only can positive training show your dog how much you love them, but it can also help develop a deep bond between you and your dog.
Your dog naturally wants to please you. They don’t chew up the furniture or pee on the carpet because they want to make you mad. The only reason they do this is because they didn’t know it was wrong.
When a dog is destructive or disobeys, it’s easy to get mad at them and yell at them. But if you do this, they’re going to be scared of you because they have no idea what they did wrong. In their mind, you’re yelling at them because you don’t love them. If you’ve made this mistake before, the good news is it can be corrected. Just make sure you put an end to the negative training immediately.
That’s why positive training is so important. It will let you show your love for them by providing them with praise and treats, while they get to show their love for you by obeying your commands.
Although we don’t know exactly when the special bond between dogs and humans development, we do know that the bond humans have with dogs is stronger than any other creature.
The human would shelter and feed the dog while the dog would help the human hunt and protect us from other predators.
Although that’s not exactly the way the relationship is anymore, it’s still a very special and unique relationship that doesn’t require any words. You have complete trust in your dog and your dog has complete trust in you. This type of bond creates unconditional love for both the human and the dog.
So next time you’re wondering whether or not your dog knows you love them, just remember that not only are they aware of it, but they appreciate it and will return the love in their own unique way.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.