Does my dog love me? We all know that dogs love their owners unconditionally but have you ever wondered how exactly dogs show that they love us? It is such a well known cliché that no one even dares to question it! Perhaps it is because the world is filled with extraordinary stories of dog loyalty. There are so many touching examples how dogs grieve for their deceased owners. There are many people who will surely tell you that their dog even saved their life – literally and metaphorically.
Signs that your dog loves you
But how can we tell if our dogs really love us? Well, you surely know one sign of their affection! As Disney even quoted Josh Billings at the beginning of Lady and Tramp: “In the whole history of the world there is but one thing that money can not buy… to wit the wag of a dog’s tail”. But, besides the joyful tail wagging that is so unique for dogs showing how happy they are, there are so many other ways that your dog can show you just how much she or he loves you!
Dogs lick to express their affection. When a dog licks itself or even another dog such as a dog mum licking her puppies, this releases endorphins — and these stress-relieving hormones are what make it into an enjoyable experience. However, this gesture is not what we would exactly think of as kisses as it also serves other important functions. It also helps them gather information and even show submission.
Cuddling and leaning on you
Never ever underestimate the endless power of cuddling! Kisses are for humans and although you might teach it to your dog as a sign of affection, it is not their ‘natural’ way of showing their love. Their language of affection is in fact all about touching or cuddling with each other, it is the language of the animal kingdom!
Sleeping in your bed or in your bedroom
Your dog wants to be near you, what greater compliment! Not only that, but she feels safe around you, safe enough to rest peacefully in your presence. When your dog lays next to your feet for example, it is thought that she is protecting you. So in case your life is threatened, she’ll be the first line of defence! Then, if your dog sleeps on her back next to you which means she is actually exposing her belly – there’s no greater sign of confidence, your dog is literally trusting you with her life! What an honour indeed :)
Adoring your scent
Is your dog taking your things? Your socks, anything from your laundry, even your underwear? Try to think of these bizarre things that your dog does just as yet another sign of her affection. It all smells like you and she needs it by her side to comfort her while you’re away as usually they lay on or play with your belongings. Let’s just hope you’re lucky enough when she chooses an object so you don’t end up losing your favourite pair of shoes!
Then again, while your dog is still a puppy, some sort of damage is pretty much guaranteed while teething… but think of it this way, you would be having sleepless nights with a baby crying from discomfort, whereas your dog just needs something to soothe the itch on its own. Just try to find her something she likes to chew on before she discovers your shoes or your favourite chair!
Following you around or at least checking in on you (in case of an independent dog)
Surely in your teens, you were aiming to accidentally drop by places that you knew your crush could be at? Well, that is exactly why your dog is following you around while you cook or go to the bathroom – they cannot get enough of you! As for more independent dogs, even they are likely to check up on you from time to time, just to make sure they haven’t ‘lost’ you!
Eye contact releases a chemical called oxytocin—a.k.a. the “love hormone” that helps new mothers bond with their newborn babies. In a dog’s brain, it also triggers feelings of attachment and comfort. Extended eye contact shows that your dog feels the deeply loving bond between you two. You are what she is looking at because you are all that she recognises as being part of her world. While not all dogs hold eye contact easily, you can even help them learn this behaviour as part of their training.
No need to aim for a staring contest, but if your dog looks at you often, this eye contact truly indicates your dog’s love for you. “Here’s looking at you, kid…”, and you get to have your very own Humphrey Bogart at home every single day :)
Tilting head when you speak to them
Possibly the cutest dog behaviour there is – a person whose heart does not melt from this is likely not to have a heart at all…. This is not just a sign of affection, it is pure empathy. Your dog is trying to ‘understand’ you, to feel what you are feeling!
Some studies show that dogs are more likely to yawn when their owners yawn, as opposed to being around strangers whose yawning they are not likely to follow up. Who knows… but this surely indicates the strength of your bond if your dog is imitating you. As the Jungle Book song goes: “I Wanna Be Like You”…
Excited to see you when you come home
Whether it was a long day at work or a 5 min trip to the grocery store, your dog is jumping from joy as she is so beyond happy to see you! Maybe we should all do that when our loved ones get home -such a warm welcome sure makes you actually want to go back home!
Is your dog bringing you her ball to play fetch? Her rope bone? Just think – when do children share their toys? Like do they, ever?! Maybe they would to their adored cartoon heroes… Well, you are so adored that your dog actually shares her toys so she can play with you! No, you are not likely to see this behaviour when it comes to food for example, but let’s not overdo it! Toys are toys and food is FOOD! And dogs can never get enough of food :D
Just trust your gut…
You literally cannot not know if your dog loves you even though their reactions, just like ours, can vary… whether it is by cuddling next to you any chance she gets or just jumping as if on a trampoline with a wagging tail whenever she sees you, your dog will clearly show you that her or his heart is all yours!
Moreover, your dog will express her love not only in one, but in a million ways! But there is no way that a dog is playing hard to get – dogs will ALWAYS show you just how much they love you! Just remember, YOU are everything to your dog. Not just her family, but her entire Universe begins and starts with YOU! So do make sure to return her affection with playing and cuddling. Also, do not forget to train your dog and praise her when she does something right. The rule of thumb is that a happy dog is a well-behaved dog!
You are given the opportunity to gain the most loving bond with your best furry friend, but the quality of this bond significantly depends on you. Now, besides wondering how our dogs can tell if we love them, ever wondered how our dogs see us or whether they have special “names” for us just like we make a ton of cute nicknames for them? But that’s a different story. More on that some other time :)