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how to tell your dog you love him

7 Ways to Tell Your Dog You Love Them

I love my dog. She is one of the best things in my life, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to keep her healthy and happy.

Showing our dogs how much they mean to us can be a little tricky, though. And if they don’t respond the way you expect, you may wonder “Does my dog love me?”

Here are some ways to tell your dog you love them in ways they’ll understand.


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7 Ways to Tell Your Dog You Love Them


How to Tell Your Dog You Love Them in Ways They Understand


1. Rub Their Ears

Instead of patting your pup on the top of their head, try giving them a gentle rub behind the ears. Watch their reaction — they will most likely melt into a ball of doggy happiness.

This is because rubbing a dog’s ears actually stimulates the release of endorphins — hormones that relieve pain and bring on feelings of pleasure.


2. Lean on Them

Has your dog ever pressed up against your legs or leaned into you while you were sitting together? This is one way that dogs seek affection, kind of like a doggie hug. It’s also a sign of deep trust.

You can “hug” them back by doing the same thing.


3. Gaze Softy Into Their Eyes

One way to show your pup you love them is through eye contact. Take a quiet moment, speak softly to them while petting them gently, and just gaze into their eyes.

Try raising your eyebrows (especially the left one). Your dog will view this as a display of affection.

In fact, this action will naturally increase your dog’s level of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that aids in bonding.

A word of caution: you should only maintain direct eye contact with a dog who knows and trusts you. A dog who is not familiar with you is more likely to interpret this gesture as a threat or a challenge.


4. Play Together

Spend some time every day doing something that your dog enjoys. Try teaching them a new trick or practicing ones they already know.


Tulip and I love to play!

Take them to the backyard or to the dog park for a game of frisbee or fetch with their favorite toy. (This is my favorite dog bonding toy.) Not only will your dog feel loved, but the exercise will help to keep them (and you) healthy.


5. Snuggle

Not all dogs enjoy hugs, but most love cuddling. Dogs are pack animals, and close contact makes them feel safe and secure. Allowing your pooch to sleep with you is the ultimate display of trust and affection since this is when you are the most vulnerable.


Snuggling and taking naps together are great ways to bond with your dog.

However, even if you’d prefer to keep your bed dog-free, you can still create opportunities every day to tell your dog you love them by snuggling up on the couch or in a cozy corner with them on the floor. They’ll be sure to get your message.


6. Talk to Your Dog

It’s ok to use your “dog voice!” Dogs love being talked to and they love it when you use their name. Some studies show dogs may understand hundreds of words and phrases.

So go ahead and tell your dog about your day, and talk to them about what you’re doing or what you’ll do together. See how many words your dog knows!


7. Go for Walks Together

When you’re home, you may be snuggling with your dog, but it’s unlikely you’re sharing experiences together. You might be watching TV or scrolling on your phone, things your dog could care less about.


Tulip and I love to take walks and enjoy nature together.

But when you’re walking together, you’re sharing the experience, all the sights, sounds, and smells that accompany the walk. Although your dog is smelling a lot more than you are!

Enjoying this shared experience can bring you closer together and forge a strong bond.


8. Let Them Kiss You

Licking you is their way of showing affection, so when you accept this gift of love, you’re showing your dog how much you love them!

In fact, licking releases endorphins and dopamine, making your dog feel calm and secure.


Tulip loves to give kisses!


Things to Avoid When Trying to Show Your Dog You Love Them

Hugs: Even though I know that most dogs aren’t the biggest fans of big hugs, I sometimes have to fight the urge to give Tulip a loving squeeze. After all, hugging is one of the most natural ways for humans to show affection. However, for many of our canine companions, a hug is unwelcome or even threatening, especially if they feel trapped.

Treats: While treats are a great way to show your dog attention, especially during training sessions, they should be limited. Some dog parents make the mistake of thinking that the best way to their dog’s heart is through their stomach. Don’t get me wrong — treats and goodies do have their place, but too many of them can easily lead to weight gain and all of the health issues that come with it.


Does My Dog Know I Love Them?

The short answer is “probably.” But only if you know how to speak your dog’s love language. As mentioned, things like hugs, kisses, and treats don’t necessarily translate to love in a dog’s native language.

Dogs are pack animals, and they rely on their pack’s queues for signs of approval and love. They do this primarily through body language, physical touch, and group activities like hunting and exercising.

One of the best things about dogs is how well they know their favorite people. They can tell when we’re stressed out and when we’re calm and happy. And we can be sure that our voices, body language, and actions communicate to them how much they mean to us.

The bond between humans and dogs has huge benefits for people and animals. My ebook explains how bonding with your dog can improve your mind, body, spirit, and community. Click here to download your free copy.


Bond with your dog. Download the free guide.


Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert and influencer with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

Today she lives in Florida with her dog Tulip, cat Olivia, and husband Paul.

This Post Has 84 Comments

  1. I looked up this article because I realized randomly screaming “I FREAKING LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART YOU BEAUTIFUL BLESSING” to my dog was doing a better job at scaring her than it was at getting the message across. Lol

  2. Great Article! If my dog could read this one I am pretty much sure that it will thank you for sharing this post. The points you shared are so informative and helpful for strong bonding with my dog.

  3. Great article! Before we rescued our puppy, Coco, over 13 years ago, I read “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin. It taught both my husband and me to communicate with our dog non-verbally. If you’re not a reader, just follow the tips in the article. 🐾

  4. My dog Pebbles yawns when I tell her I love her, usually after a good session of petting, scratching and or brushing. Then she lays by my feet and naps.

  5. Thankyou so much for the advise it is all so very helpful!!! The only thing I’m still having trouble with is house breaking my puppy! I have had him now for a month and we take him out immediately after naps, drinks, after he eats and we will come in and he will go again on the floor! I can’t bring myself to smack his butt, is there anything else I can do? I would be so grateful for any advise!!!

    1. I placed my dog on a schedule, where I was taking her outside to use the potty once every our. I would go down 1 hour every week. Now that she is a full year old I take her outside about every three hours. Give him lots of praise as soon as he starts to go, when he’s done give him a healthy low fat treat. Make sure to take him outside in the morning as soon as you and him wake up, I say this because if I wait any longer than an hour after we are both up, she pees on the floor next to the door. I hope that my advise helps you with your journey of raising a puppy!

    2. I don’t know how old your puppy is but my puppy is a Chiweenie and was very very hard to potty train. I finally got a doggy doorbell and I have it on the floor by the door that we go out to go potty. I sat on the floor with her and put her paw on the doorbell and rang it and at the same time I said go potty I open the door and I gave her a treat. And every time I took her out even if she didn’t ring the doorbell I would stop and hit the button and say potty and open the door. Within three weeks she was ringing the doorbell by herself! I found it on Amazon. I have tried the bells on the string for the door but she was afraid of those. It’s funny if she really has to go potty bad she hits it like five times right in the row! She also rings it if she’s a squirrel outside. Lol. But it was a blessing for me and her. I also keep one out on the patio in the lanai so if she’s outside and has to go she rings the bell and I hear it inside and I can let her out. I didn’t want to use the doggie door. Oh and it’s also portable I took it when I went to my sons house can you plug the bell into the outlet and then you put the little door bells by the door. Good luck with your puppy!

      1. Vicky,

        What an awesome idea! I am so glad you were able to find a potty training solution for her. It’s just a plus that the bell helps her to chase the squirrels LOL. Thanks for sharing


    3. My dogs learned it within 2 weeks because we did this: Take them out starting every 30 minutes and over the course of them growing up, do it every 3 hours/every time they seem to have to go. When they do do it in the house, it may seem harsh but it’s Not, put there nose in it, say “No!” in a firm, deep voice 3 times, then take them outside to go to the bathroom immediately, despite when the last time they went was. And every time they go potty outside, praise them cheerfully and give them a treat. (after they go) Hope this helps! We love our 2 pups dearly and they love us very dearly.

      1. I agree with most of what you are saying, but please never ever rub a puppy’s nose in their urine or spank them. It takes puppies time to learn to empty their bladder completely. Usually if you keep them out a little longer, they will usually pee a second time. When you take them out, take them to the same area and use the same words in a soft calm voice. I say “go potty”. After they go, have a treat and praise them and give them love immediately. If you catch them in the act inside, make a noise to stop them like clapping your hands. Take them out immediately. Puppies don’t remember after they had an accident. Never punish a puppy for an accident that happened and you didn’t catch it when it happened. When you clean up accidents in the house, always use an enzymatic cleaner on the area after you clean up the urine. This helps to avoid repeat accidents by them smelling the urine. It also helps to confine them to a couple rooms without carpet. so you can watch them more closely and watch for the signals. I have raised many dogs and this system has worked for my puppies every time!

        1. Hi Deb,

          Yes, I agree! Positive reenforcement is definitely the way to go. Puppies take months to potty train. It can be frustrating! But, it’s important to remain patient with them, take them out regularly (every couple of hours!), and reward them when they go outside!

          Enzymatic cleaners are a must when cleaning up accidents!!

          Thanks for sharing your success, Deb!


  6. I have 3 big dogs and they all love these! Sammie is a 13 1/2 year old black lab, Gary is a 13 year old beagador (beagle/lab, Sammie’s puppy) and Lola is a 3 year old German Shepard. 🐕 ❤️

  7. This article is so great!! Thank you, Kirsten♥️
    I’ve been reading about how to encourage my 2 big girls (Beauty 3½yrs old & her 10mon old baby Vision) to go potty when it’s raining, so far nothing is helping. Would you happen to know any “magic trick” that doesn’t include building a covered outdoor area or using a doggy raincoat? Thanks😊

  8. I have a six month old pupper and he LOVES when I rub his ears doesn’t really care for gazing into eyes 😛 Anyways, he especially like snuggles, he also like to sit on me, but whos judging?

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