Our pets may not be able to express their love verbally, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t express how they feel about us. Our pets show love through body language and actions – you just have to know what to look for.
They maintain eye contact
While prolonged eye contact might be seen as threatening when it comes from another human, with our dogs it’s the opposite. Your dog only makes prolonged eye contact with those that they trust and feel the safest with. In fact, when they make eye contact like this it releases the “love hormone” oxytocin!
They steal your clothes
When you’re chasing your dog around the house trying to grab that sock they’ve stolen out of your laundry basket, it might be hard to believe they’re just trying to tell you that they love you but this is actually what’s happening. Dogs with strong bonds to their owners love to steal items with their scent so they can feel close to you even when you’re not around.
They want to be close to you
Not every dog enjoys being wrapped in a giant bear hug, but they do love to receive physical affection from their favorite people. When your dog leans against you, comes to sit with you, or paws at you to pet them, this is their way of telling them that they love you and feel safe and secure in your presence.
They share their favorite toys with you
When your pup brings you a toy, that’s a good sign that they like you enough to want to play together, but bringing you their favorite toy? That means you hold the top place in their heart. They see you as the alpha in their pack and let you know it by giving you their most treasured item.
They’re calm when you leave and excited when you come back
Having your dog seem different to your departure may not seem like a sign of love, but what they’re actually telling you is that they trust you. Dogs who love their owners trust that they’ll come back, so their departure is nothing to worry about. Their tail wagging, jumping, and dancing around you upon your return is a much more obvious sign of love.
They smile at you
As humans, we instinctively smile at those we feel positively about. As it turns out, dogs do the same. If you’ve ever seen your dog look at you with their mouth open and lips curled up in what looks like a smile, this is a sign that they love you. They do this not only when they see or hear you, but even when they catch a whiff of your scent. For your dog, even smelling you causes a similar neural response as when humans see someone they care about.
They keep an eye on what you’re doing
If you have a so-called “velcro dog”, you know that they make it pretty clear that they love to be around you, but for more independent dogs this might be less obvious. If you watch your dog’s behavior closely, you’ll probably notice that if they’re in another room they periodically walk in and check on what you’re doing. Even if they only briefly walk through the room, it’s a sign that they want to make sure that you’re okay.
They purr when you’re near you
If you had to think of a way your cat shows that it loves you, purring is probably the first that comes to mind. When cats are relaxed and happy, they show it by purring. If your cat is purring when you interact with it, that’s a sure sign of love.
They flop on the ground in front of you
Have you ever had your cat run over to you then promptly flop onto the ground and begin to roll around showing you their belly? When this happens, your cat is letting you know that they would like some attention from their favorite human. That’s right, their favorite! Cats are unlikely to do this to people they don’t love, as they rarely show their bellies to someone they don’t trust.
They rub their head on you
When a cat loves someone, they will spend a lot of time seemingly head-butting them. Also known as bunting, what cats are doing is leaving their scent on you to mark you as their territory. Fortunately, these tiny head-butts are adorable and don’t hurt one bit!
They groom you
You’ve probably seen cats that enjoy each other’s company begin to groom one another. Similar to head-butting, cats do this to mark the ones they love. If you’ve ever had your cat lick your skin and hair or even chew on your clothes, it’s their way of telling both you and the world that you’re their favorite.
They knead on or around you
Cats that are feeling relaxed and loved will knead their paws on soft surfaces, almost like they’re making little biscuits. This behavior starts when they were a kitten and would knead their mother when nursing – an obviously loving situation. So when your cat does it to you, they feel as loved by you as they did when they were with their mother.
They greet you with their tail held upright
Cats express a lot of their feelings through their tails. We’re pretty familiar with the negative emotions they display, but the happy ones can be a bit more subtle. When cats are happy to see someone, they will keep their tails held high with the very top part hooked over. Cats start this in kittenhood when they approach their mothers with their tags held high, and it continues as adults when they see the humans they love.
They give you the squinty slow blink
Dogs make prolonged eye contact with those that they love, but cats prefer something a bit softer. When a cat loves someone, they look at them with half-closed eyes and slowly blink. The best thing about this is that you can do this to your cat as a way of saying I love you and there’s a good chance they’ll do it back!
With such expressive bodies and behavior, it’s clear that our pets don’t need to be able to speak to express their love for us.