Surely, you know that you love your dog. But how can you tell if a dog loves you back? Although dogs can’t tell their humans how much they love them with words, smiles, and hugs, they’re certainly able to show it in other ways. Dogs communicate love through their body language in several ways. Some are more obvious than others and different dogs will express love for their owners differently. In some cases, it can be hard to tell if what they’re trying to express is a positive or negative emotion but hopefully, this post will help.
1. They’re happy to see you
Every dog owner knows what it’s like to come home and be greeted by a happy canine. From a soft wag of the tail to a full-on body wiggle, jumps, and barks. There’s a wide range of behaviors that can show how happy your dog is to see you get home safe and sound. Some dogs, mainly puppies, can even get to a point where they’ll pee a little when they see their owners. This is not an ideal behavior, and most dogs grow out of it as they get better at holding their urine. But until then, you can interpret that as a good sign that your dog loves you.
2. They give you presents
It’s normal for dogs to bring their toys to their owners to challenge them for a bit of playtime. And although wanting to play with you is already a rather good sign that your dog loves you, the ultimate proof of that is if your dog gives you a toy of theirs as a gift. Giving you one of their most prized possessions such as their favorite toy is a real gesture of genuine love. Bear in mind that sometimes that prized possession may be something different like a stick they found on a walk, or something else they picked up from the ground and thought was a cool gift for you.
3. You’re the most important thing for them (after food)
If your dog must choose between you and a juicy piece of bacon, the odds might not favor you. But when it’s between you and anything else other than food, your dog has absolutely no doubt which one to pick and they’ll choose you every single time. That’s love! When food isn’t involved, dogs always choose to interact with their humans. Remember that dogs live in the present and their instinct leads them to pick food first. But when their instinct doesn’t need to kick in, their hearts will always pick you.
4. They like to sleep with you
Dogs are social animals which leads them to sleep in packs to protect each other. That way, in the event of a threat, they can help keep the whole pack safe. When dogs want to sleep in the same room as their owners or in their beds, that’s a good sign that they see them as part of their pack and therefore, they’re trying to keep them safe from any threats. Besides keeping you safe, this also shows they want as much physical contact with you as possible. So besides sleeping with you, they’ll always be ready to be petted or snuggle up on the couch with you whenever they get the chance.
5. They look at you with loving eyes
In some cases, direct eye contact can be interpreted in the wild as a sign of aggression. However, if you notice your dog is staring deeply into your eyes with a soft and relaxed gaze, that’s more likely a loving gaze. This kind of gaze helps dogs’ and humans’ brains release oxytocin which is known as the “love hormone” and can help strengthen the bond between you. So to help create a deeper connection, try to maintain this natural eye contact while playing or cuddling. But be careful not to force it.
6. They follow you around
If you feel like you have a smaller shadow following you around the house, congrats! You have a Velcro dog. That means you can’t take a step without your dog being always by your side. Dogs do this to always keep their owners safe. However, if your dog is prone to separation anxiety, it’s best to not encourage this behavior as it can make things worse.
7. They check on you to make sure you’re OK
When it comes to very independent dogs that don’t tend to follow their owners around the house, one thing they’ll do is a big sign of love is randomly check up on them to make sure they’re OK. So, if you’re cooking, working in your office, or on a bathroom break and your dog randomly shows up, looks at you, and goes back to resume their nap, they’re just making sure you’re nearby, safe and sound, and it’s a great sign they love you.
8. They’ll ignore you sometimes
On the other hand, the fact that your dog can let you roam around the house without tracking you while they nap the day away, it means they feel safe and relaxed around you. This is the ultimate sign of trust and love and that they feel connected to you. Otherwise, if they didn’t trust you or felt safe around you, they would always be on high alert, surveilling your every movement, tense and ready to jump into flight or fight mode in case you ambush or abandon them.
9. Their ears perk up when they hear your name
Dogs are great at associating sounds with events. If they start picking up that the sound of your name results in you showing up or paying attention to where that sound came from, they’ll realize that your name means that you’re going to show up or reply and they’re ready for it. In extreme cases, some dogs can even learn how to mimic the sound of their owner’s name to get their attention.
Making sense of it all
Now you know how much your dog loves you. Remember that every dog has its own personality and its own unique way of showing affection. They can show a variation of any of these signs, but these will already give you a good guideline as to what to look for. If you adopted a dog recently and it’s still not showing any of these signs and you notice it’s still on high alert, there’s no need to worry. Dogs can take some time to adapt to their new homes. But with time, patience, and lots of love, they’ll eventually start opening up.