The unconditional love of a pet is one of life’s blessings. Pets don’t talk back, they never judge and they somehow know when we are happy and when we’re not. Best of all, they ask for nothing in return.
We have many ways to show our affection to our dogs. Some owners show it through giving their dogs their favorite treat. Others give physical affection. Some use play-time to show their love.
That being said, we can go deeper into the minds of our pets thanks to new developments in the science of dog communication. As Little Things explains, dogs have uncanny powers and/or enhanced physical senses, we can also identify unique ways dogs express their love for humans.
Dogs can give us signs that they love us. These signs sometimes don’t translate well. Many are subtle and take a keen eye to spot.
Signs That Your Dog Loves You
- Stares into your eyes
When your dog stares directly at you, he/she releases a hormone called oxytocin which is the same hormone released by moms to their babies. When your dog is staring into your eyes, it is essentially giving you a big hug.
Go ahead, try this at home but don’t have a staring contest with your puppy or he/she will know something is not right. Relax your face. Just naturally maintain eye contact during your normal routine and see how your dog responds.
Do this throughout the entire day. You may notice them become more relaxed. Or their tail may wag faster than a propeller.
- Yawning when you yawn
Yawning is contagious among humans but have you noticed the same with your dog? It’s true, dogs also yawn when someone they love yawns.
A Live Science article describes a study in Japan. The study shows that when humans mimic yawning it is a way of expressing empathy. It’s not possible to know if dogs feel empathy because they cannot tell us how they feel.
It’s logical to deduce that when a dog mimics the yawning of its owner, it’s doing so because of the bond they share. The study also shows that dogs are more likely to yawn when their owners do as opposed to a stranger.
Think of it this way: your dog wouldn’t be attentive to you if he didn’t love you. That attention causes him to watch your every move, including your yawns.
- Leaning on you
If your dog has ever been frightened or anxious you’ve probably noticed it lean on you for support, safety and security.
Dogs tend to physically lean on us when they want something, but leaning is also a great sign of affection.
When your dog leans on you – rest assured – he’s telling you he loves and trusts you. He is purposely seeking you out when he feels stressed.
In the same way, your dog may lean on you when you’re feeling stressed. Dogs have an innate sense when it comes to reading our behavior.
Somehow, they know when we’re feeling down. Your dog may lean on you to let you know that everything will be okay.
- Post-meal cuddling
Author Gregory Berns wrote in his book How Dogs Love Us that when your dog cuddles with you after eating that it is a sure sign he loves you. Berns points out that since dogs are food-motivated, than what they do after they eat is a good testament to their priorities.
So, after you feed your dog his next meal, if he wants to play or cuddle with you, then you are important to him. Being second in priority to food is a high compliment coming from a dog!
Every living thing needs to eat. But they don’t necessarily need affection. Your dog is different when he loves you.
He craves your affection almost as much as he craves his next meal. This is a strong sign that your dog loves you.
- Lifting and wiggling eyebrows
We know dogs use their tails to communicate but did you know they also use facial expressions? Science Direct describes a study in Japan that analyzed how dogs reacted when confronted by different things. They were presented with their owners, a stranger, a dog toy and an item they did not like.
- When the dogs saw their owners, they lifted their eyebrows, specifically the left one.
- When they were introduced to strangers, their facial expressions were limited to a lifting of the right eyebrow.
- When the dogs saw a toy that they liked they shifted their left ear back, yet when they saw an item they did not like they shifted the right ear.
The significance of which eyebrow is raised remains unknown. However, dogs showing facial expressions around owners does have an impact. It was seen that the dogs only showed such physical emotion around their owners.
The Guardian suggests this is because the dogs recognize that humans react to certain expressions. Think of puppy eyes. You can’t resist your pooch when he’s giving you those puppy eyes, can you?
And your dog may know that too. This is because your dog loves you enough to know what you react to.
- Acting calmly when you leave
Most people think that when a dog panics or freaks out when its owner leaves that it’s a sign that the pet loves the person.
This is not necessarily the case. When a dog panics upon its owner’s departure it’s more a display of separation anxiety according to author Gregory Burns.
If a dog acts without fear or panic when its owner leaves it is a sign of trust that the owner will return. Your dog knows you love him enough to return to him later.
- Excitement upon your return home
In the same way, a sign that your dog loves you is when he’s excited you’re home. Pet owners know that wonderful feeling of coming home to a beloved pet.
An excited dog usually jumps with joy when its owner returns home. This is a distinctive display of love and trust.
- Sleeping in your room
If your dog wants to sleep in your bed, even if you do not allow it, then you can bet it loves you.
Dogs are pack animals and wanting to be with you at night is a sign that they love you. It is a sign of loyalty that shows it does not want to be separated from the pack.
- Brings you his favorite toy
When your dog delivers you his favorite toy, you might think he just wants to play. Wanting to play is a sign that your dog loves you.
When your dog brings you his favorite possession he’s signaling that he considers you the pack leader and wants to please you.
Your dog is offering you his most favorite possession because he thinks you’ll like it as much as he does. How cute is that?
Looking after you when you’re sick
As part of their “pack” instinct, dogs want to care for sick pack members. When you get sick, your dog wants to be right beside you.
Your dog may sleep against you to keep you warm. Some may bring you a favorite toy or an object to help you feel better.
- Enjoys your love
Just like we know when our pets love us, they know when we love them. They run, jump and play in our presence and they feel happy upon receiving our approval. If you do not love your dog, you will not receive love in return.
Smiles at you
A “doggy smile” is a sign that your dog loves you. His mouth will open and he will have a relaxed face. This reaction comes from a number of things.
Your dog may respond to your voice with a smile. They may smell you and smile. Dogs only smile like this for people they love.
A chemical reaction in the brain stimulates this reaction. We experience this same feeling when we see someone we love.
Stealing your clothes
While this behavior may be frowned upon, it is a sure sign that your dog loves you. Your clothes carry your scent, even after being washed. Your dog finds comfort and love in your smell.
When he’s feeling anxious, he may take your clothes and curl up with them. This is why many owners will leave out an old set of clothes if they travel.
By seeking your scent, your dog shows that he truly loves you. He sees your scent as a source of comfort.
Trust Your Gut
There are many scientific signs that your dog loves you. If you’re still unsure if your dog is showing these signs, listen to your own heart. You’ll know if your dog loves you.
Does his tail wag when you talk to him? Does he follow you around the house?
Since the love of a dog is unconditional, you more than likely have their affection.