Dog lovers everywhere enjoy expressing the love and affection they have for their dogs. But does your dog understand the depth of love you have for him or her?
According to Dr. Brian Hare, a canine cognition specialist, our dogs do know we love them. Dogs and humans have the ability to form a special neural connection. This connection is the same human oxytocin bonding pathway used by parents and babies. When you stare at your dog, the oxytocin levels in both your brain and your dog’s brain go up, the same as when you pet and play with them.
Pet parents across the country can attest to the surge of joy felt when experiencing that special bond. It’s nice to know there’s a scientific explanation for why playing and being close to our dogs makes us – and them – feel so happy.
Signs Your Dog Knows You Love Them
Their body language
Your dog shows you love them through body language and behavior. For example, they will stare at you and make direct eye content. This is their way of saying they trust and love you. They will also have obvious signs like a big smile, a wagging tail and a bottom-wiggle.
They recognize your name
Dogs understand language more than we may realize. In addition to learning their own name, they have the ability to learn your name – and be visibly excited when someone uses it.
They want to share their toys with you
Sharing toys is another way dogs express love. If a dog really loves you, they will often bring you their favorite toy. This is their way of showing they care.
They will guard and protect you
Some dogs will naturally protect you from dangers such as people trying to break into your home, and they will guard your home day and night to ensure this doesn’t happen. You might even notice they are “on guard” while you’re eating. This is their way of showing you belong to their pack.
They might try to herd you
Some breeds are known for their herding tendencies. If your dog tries to make sure all family members stay together, they could be displaying herding tendencies. This is their way of showing affection for their pack.
They will rub their face on you
Rubbing their face on you is your dog marking you as “theirs” and is a common way to show affection. Of course, if your dog is rubbing his or her face on everything in sight, you might have them checked by a veterinarian to make sure they don’t have a skin problem, like mites or dandruff.
They comfort you
Your dog might climb onto your lap if they sense you are upset. Most dogs are very in tune with their owners’ emotions and will often try to be close to you during times of stress.
They lean on you
Dogs lean on you to be close to you. This is their way of showing affection. They might even lay on your feet!
They will bring you things to “fix”
Some dogs will bring you a broken toy or other object. This is showing they have faith you will fix the broken item for them.
They cuddle with you
Because dogs have a pack mentality, they consider you as part of their close-knit pack, meaning they want to show you love and affection. If your dog is cuddling and snuggling with you, it’s a sign they love you and know you love them.
More Ways to Show Your Dog You Love Them
Even though our dogs know we love them, we can always show them a little extra love in ways they will understand. Here are a few simple things you can do to communicate your love clearly.
Work on training with them
Training provides positive reinforcement, builds your dog’s confidence and strengthens the bond between you.
Rub your dog’s ears
Your dog’s ears contain nerve endings that send impulses through your dog’s body and release feel-good endorphins.
Feed your dog by hand
This is particularly helpful if you’re training a puppy, but feeding your dog out of your hand can strengthen the bond between you and your dog. It also places you in the position of your dog’s provider.
Tell them you love them
Even if your dog can’t understand your words, they often understand your tone and intention. Especially if you tell them often, they will come to recognize your words and tone and will understand the love you have for them.
As long as you’re showing your dog love and affection, they will understand it. However, if you want to throw in an extra belly rub or treat once in a while, they will love you for it!