You know you love your dog… but does she love you? Here are ten surefire signs your dog would say “I love you” if she could speak.
Who can argue that dogs make phenomenal pets? They are fiercely loyal, adorable, intelligent and oh-so-cuddly – we simply love them. But do they love us back? The short answer is yes. Like humans, dogs express their emotions both subtly and overtly in a variety of ways. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to decode their behavior. Are they saying “I love you”, or do they just want a bite of your charcuterie board? These 10 signs of doggy affection can help you to decode your puppy’s feelings.
1. The classic “I’m so happy to see you” dance
If your dog jumps for joy when you arrive home, that’s a pretty clear indication that she’s happy to see you. If she licks your hands and face, brings you her favorite toy or even excitedly lets out a little pee when you get home from work, it’s pretty safe to say that she loves you. In fact, her whole world revolves around you!
2. Seeking physical contact
It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that dogs like attention and affection, and while they may not all love being restrictively hugged, few happy, healthy dogs would turn away a good snuggle from a trusted human friend. Gentle cuddles, leans and affectionate pawing are sure signs of a strong bond.
3. Prolonged eye contact
When your dog maintains eye contact with you, she’s letting you know that she loves and feels safe with you. According to Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS from We’re All About Pets, eye contact actually helps to create a deeper bond, too. “When your eyes meet, both of you will release oxytocin, AKA the ‘love hormone’, the same hormone that a mother’s brain releases when she’s bonding with her baby.” It needs to be natural, though – forcing eye contact can turn awkward quickly!
4. Sleeping in your bedroom
If you let your pooch sleep on your bed, all of that nighttime snuggling feels pretty loving, right? But even if you don’t let your dog on the bed, if she still likes to sleep in your room at night, then she really loves you. Wanting to stay close to you when you sleep is a sure sign of loyalty, protection and love.
5. Carrying your shoes and socks around
Dogs who love their owners can be particularly attached to their scent and may even raid the laundry basket or shoe pile for some stinky momentos! Stealing socks and shoes isn’t ideal behavior, however, as it often leads to lots of chewing and ruined items. Better to donate something of yours to your pooch for comfort and bonding. Otherwise, keep her jaws entertained with some yummy bones or engaging toys.
Wrestling, play fighting, roughhousing – whatever you call it, it’s a great way to bond with your dog and work off some energy in the meantime. Dogs are also showing you their affection by wanting to engage with you in this way. In fact, it’s another great sign of trust and comfort. Your pup may even let out a breathy laugh when she’s playing and having fun with you.
Scientists have discovered that dogs actually use the same muscles as humans when expressing their emotions – and that dogs do in fact smile! A doggy smile is usually reserved only for playmates and beloved owners and friends, though – so when you see it, consider yourself lucky and loved!
8. Tail wagging
A tail that is wagging is typically attached to a very happy dog! Tail wagging can mean several different things, but if you have a good relationship with your puppy, it’s fairly certain that her full-body tail wags are a sign of sheer delight at seeing you, their most beloved companion.
9. Following you around
Canines are social by nature, and with a strong pack instinct, will seek to stay nearby to those that they love and trust. Instincts that allowed our dog’s early ancestors to stay safe by staying together in the wild are still present in our dog’s DNA today. Pups follow their caretakers around to stay close to their perceived pack leader, which is ultimately a way of showing loyalty and protection, and therefore love.
10. Grooming and licking you
It’s natural for dogs to lick the face of the human they see as their leader. A doggy kiss on the face is a true sign of adoration! Dogs are social pack creatures, and grooming each other is an intimate sign of a caring bond. Some dogs will gently nose your hand or leg to ask you to interact with them, while others will lick you all over given half the chance!
Dogs are notoriously affectionate, excitable and loyal, so it’s not usually hard to feel loved by them. So long as your dog is happy, healthy and well cared for, she should be exhibiting many or all of the above signs of affection. She can’t help herself!