Love, from our human perspective, is an abstract emotion that can be complicated. Dogs are also capable of having affectionate feelings for their owner. Although the way they show their love is different from ours, there are similarities. When a canine shows their love, it’s genuine, unconditional and forever. Some of the ways dogs show they love you are obvious – but some are more subtle and may surprise you.
Follow the Leader
Canines, like their wolf cousin, are social animals by nature. They don’t seek out “me time,” and they want to spend quality time with their human family. Instincts that helped early ancestors of dogs survive in the wild are still present in our pets’ DNA. Your dog follows you around because he wants to be with you, his leader, and it’s one way of showing his love.
A wagging tail can have multiple meanings, but if you have a good relationship with your pup, you can bet that a full-body tail wag held at mid-level is saying “I’m so happy to see you.” If the tail is held over to the right side of his body, that’s a positive signal that indicates he is comfortable and happy.
Doggy kisses on your face are a sure sign of affection. It’s a natural behavior for dogs to lick the face of the person they see as their leader. Because dogs are social creatures, grooming another dog or a human family member is an intimate ritual of a strong bond. Some dogs express their love by gently nosing your hand, arm or leg, asking you to interact with them.
Touch is as important to canines as it is to us, especially when the person cuddling next to you is someone special. Your pet may have his own comfy bed, but his favorite resting place is most likely right next to you. Some dogs nuzzle their nose into the crook of your arm or lay their head on your foot. Others show affection by resting their head on your knee, and some lean against you. It’s important not to push your pet away when he’s expressing his love. That’s the time to strengthen your bond and enjoy the special moments of affection.
Chewing Your Stuff
This may not seem like an expression of love, but it is. Your smell is everywhere in your pet’s environment. It’s a scent that makes him feel happy, safe and comfortable. When your dog drags out your favorite shirt, sweater, sock or other items and chews them up, it’s because it makes him think of you and that excites him.
Wrestling and roughhousing between playmates, human or dog, is a natural way to bond and work off some energy; it’s also a sign of affection. Dogs tend to let loose with a breathy laugh when playing and having fun, especially when it’s with someone they care about. Roughhousing can get out of hand sometimes, so make sure to teach your dog not to bite when playing with him.
Scientists have found humans and dogs use the same muscles when showing emotions. A doggy smile is reserved for playmates (human or other dogs), and expresses happiness and affection.
Jumping up on us is a behavior we try to teach our dogs not to do, but in reality, it is a sign of affection from our canine friends. It can be annoying when an excited dog greets you at the door, but it’s his way of saying how happy he is to see you. He’s also sniffing out all of the smells you brought home with you.
Dogs want to be with their family. It’s a social commitment hardwired in canines. From your pet’s point of view, the most important person in his life is his leader. He looks to you for companionship, approval, guidance, proper care and affection. That’s an awesome and rewarding responsibility.
Getting and holding eye contact with your dog helps to strengthen the bond between you. Gazing into his eyes increases oxytocin (a chemical in the brain known as the love hormone) in both of you. Making eye contact with your dog says he’s comfortable looking to you for guidance, especially when you need to get his attention.
You can’t put a price on loyalty, and it is a measure of trust and respect, which is something you have to earn. Protecting the family unit (pack) is instinctive in our canine friends, and their loyalty is one way dogs show they love you.