We all know how we show our dogs affection. If your dogs are like mine, they love belly rubs. The mere mention of a “treat” sends them jumping for joy (even if it’s only a carrot!) All I have to do is pull the leash out and they know we are going for a walk and get very excited. They love, love their walks and all the scents that come along with it. When I’m settling down to watch a movie, they instantly transform into couch potatoes (and in some cases a lap dog) and I pull them close for a cozy snuggle.
How do we know our dog love us back? Scientists have studied the ways our dogs communicate love to us, and some may surprise you.
- They love the sound of your voice. My dog can be sleeping soundly, but if I walk through the door and call his name, he is instantly alert and happy to see me. Who doesn’t love to be greeted by their dog? No one else is ever that happy to see me. Even if you have had a bad day at work and are in a grumpy mood, your dog loves to “hear you”. He can tell by the tone of your voice whether you are happy or angry.
- They nudge you with their nose. Does your dog ever come up to you and nudge your arm with his nose? Although it is often a plea for attention, it is also a way of saying “hey I miss you”.
- They make direct eye contact. A dog staring directly at you can mean many things. For instance, dogs making eye contact with each other can often be an aggressive act. Note: Never start a stare showdown with an unknown dog. However, when your dog looks at you with a relaxed posture, and a soulful and relaxed look in his eyes, he is telling you everything is good in his world because of you! Direct eye contact is a very intimate act, one that shows he respects you. A recent studyshows that oxytocin, the ‘love chemical,’ goes up in both dogs and humans when they share a kind gaze.
- They jump on you. Although you may find this behavior irritating (especially if he is a big dog) and not encourage it, your dog is showing you that he is excited and “over the moon” about what he thinks is going to happen next. For instance, whenever I pick up a tennis ball outdoors, my dog starts jumping around (not on me) to show his excitement over the rousing game of fetch that is about to occur.
- They lean into you. Once again, this is a posture of affection, your dog’s way of showing how comfortable he is with you. A full lean is like trying to give you a giant body hug! It’s also your dog’s way of protecting you.
- They sigh. Unlike humans who usually sigh because they are bored or unhappy, dogs sigh to show you how content they are. Sometimes my dog will lay on his back, exposing his belly, with his feet wriggling in the air, and sigh contentedly from the belly massage! Rolling over onto his back is another way your dog shows you he trusts and loves you.
- They lick you. Think of this as doggie kisses.
- They wag their tail at you. A wagging tail can mean a lot of things, but when your dog has a relaxed, wagging tail and puts his whole rear end into it he is being affectionate.
- They bring you their favorite toy or “catch”. I still remember the time my dog brought me a dead mouse … he was so proud! When a dog wants to share his “prized possession” with you, it’s a sign of love and caring.
- They follow you wherever you go. Many of us joke that our dogs follow us into the bathroom and seem like our shadow around the house. This is because unlike humans, dogs don’t need “alone time”. They want to be with you because they love you and are afraid they will miss something exciting.
- They sniff “your business”. Here was one of the surprising ones. In human terms, it’s like a handshake, their way of getting to really know you and get used to your scent (which they find fascinating). Dogs can tell from sniffing each other if they have been neutered or not!
Like with babies who smile and we call it gas, dogs smile at us as well to show how much they love us. Their face relaxes and their tongues roll out… who can resist?
We don’t need “studies” to prove our dogs love us. Just look at the signs and remember to love them back!