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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.