Written by Emily Bayne
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/01/2021, edited: 02/07/2023
The "5 love languages" concept was developed by marriage counselor and author, Dr. Gary Chapman, as a way for couples to express and experience love in a way that feels natural for them. Knowing your loved one’s love language is imperative to reciprocate affection in a way that they understand.
Like humans, dogs have 5 love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time, and acts of service. Some dogs have more than one, or even all 5! Some dogs receive love in one love language and express it in another — but we’ll get to that. We’ll delve into how to appeal to your pet’s love language and show you all the ways they reciprocate affection in their own way.
Breed, genetics, brain chemistry, upbringing, and even training methods can influence your dog’s love language. Your Retriever and Pug may have had a similar upbringing, but they might still have very different love languages.
The science behind this phenomenon is quite interesting. "Different breeds will show you they love you in different ways," says Dr. Linda Simon MVB MRCVS, veterinary consultant with Wag!.
toy breed like a Maltese, this may mean sitting on your lap and enjoying
cuddles. Guarding dogs like Chow Chows and Ridgebacks will demonstrate
their love and loyalty by protecting you and
their home. Retrievers are known for 'leaning' on their owner, and love
to be close by when showing their affection," explains Dr. Simon.
Positive reinforcement training with an emphasis on verbal praise may lead your dog to develop the words of affirmation love language. On the other paw, a special memory of getting a toy may make your pup lean toward gift-receiving as their love language.
Keep in mind that the love language your dog expresses isn’t always the one that they want to receive. For instance, your pet may feel the most loved when they have quality time with their parents. But they might show their appreciation by bringing you a toy (gift-giving).
It’s important that you pay attention to how your dog responds to different love languages and how they communicate affection to you. Not only will this help you bond with your dog, but it can also assist with training and help you eliminate unwanted behaviors, which we'll discuss further on.
Do you see the way your pup’s eyes light up when you give them praise? Or how about the way their tail goes crazy when you say “good dog”? If your pup is super praise-oriented in training, then words of affirmation might be their love language.
If this is your dog’s love language, praise them and talk to them lovingly more often. Even just asking them questions and telling them about your day can make a dog feel special. But how do dogs with this love language express love? Some bark when you come home or whimper excitedly when you pet them.
Here are a few ways you can shower your pup with love if their love language is words of affirmation:
A simple way to fulfill your dog's need for words of affirmation is to use a cheerful voice when talking to them. Praising your dog with a high-pitched voice and a smile is sure to make them feel super special.
Speaking of praise, make sure you give positive feedback like “Good dog!” or "Smart pup!" any time your dog does something desirable. Not only will this feed their emotional need for affirmation, but it will also encourage your pooch to repeat those positive behaviors.
It doesn't have to be a holiday to show your pet love with words of affirmation. Talking to your pet as you go about your daily activities is sure to make your dog feel special any day of the year.
When out and about on a trek or trail, have a loving conversation with your dog. Fulfill your four-legger’s need for affirmation with a discussion about the beauty of nature as you walk, or your plans for the day over breakfast.
Most dogs love physical touch, but not all. For dogs with this love language, cuddling, petting, and grooming can make them feel all warm and fuzzy. Dogs with this love language might rub their head on you, lick your cheek, or paw at you to pet them.
Dogs who communicate their emotions by physical touch can often be found in their parents’ lap or snuggling up next to them in bed. An easy way to show love to dogs with this love language is by petting, giving them massages, and softly brushing their fur.
Remember that not all dogs like physical touch. Pay attention to your dog’s habits and physical cues to make sure they’re not uncomfortable. For more information, check out our guide on reading your dogs body language.
If your pup's love language is physical touch, here are some ways you can shower them with love this Valentine's Day:
If your pooch goes dog wild for bathtime, they'll "pawsitively" love their very own spa day. Your four-legged friend will love soaking in the warm water and getting a sudsy scrubbin' from the human they love most. Invest in a dog-safe bath bomb or bubble bath to really impress!
Affirming your love with a calming combo of words and touch is the perfect way to relieve tension or provide relief to sore muscles after a day of play. Unsure how to safely give your woofer a massage? Check out our handy guide.
Movie nights are a cheap and relaxing way to spend quality time with your woofer. While your pup probably won't understand the plot, they will love being beside you. Remember, you get extra points for mid-movie belly scratches.
Need some ideas for dog-friendly flicks? We've got you and Fido covered!
After a long day of walking, give those tired paw pads a good rub-down with some paw ointment. Slip some socks you don't care about over their feet to keep the oil from staining your furniture. This activity will surely make your pup feel treasured!
If your dog jumps for joy when they get a new toy, gift-receiving is probably one of their love languages. Communicate your love for them with treats, puzzles, plushes, or bones. You don’t have to buy anything elaborate — just a small toy to show them you care.
Utilize this love language to its fullest potential by saving the gifts as a reward for desirable behaviors. We’re not only talking about obeying verbal cues, but also passive behaviors. Give your pup a high-value treat or toy for not begging at dinner time and for staying calm around strangers.
You may be surprised to learn that many dogs practice gift-giving behaviors too. Sharing toys, blankets, and food are all signs your dog shows their affection by gift-giving. What looks like a soggy bone to you is something Fido views as highly valuable. So take that bone and hold it close!
Need some inspiration? Check out these ideas for spoiling the pup in your life who loves giving and receiving gifts!
Not only will food puzzles give your pup hours of mental enrichment,
but they'll also give them a tasty reward! A food puzzle is the gift
that keeps on giving all year long, and it's the perfect way to speak your
pupper's gift-giving love language.
What do dogs love even more than eating and playing? Sleeping! Show your pupper how much you care by getting them a plush new dog bed to curl up in. Not only will it make your pup feel safe, but they'll also think of you every time they take a nap.
Heading out of town and want the best care for your canine compadre? Nothing says "I love you" like a dog walking or sitting service with Wag!.
Your pupper will get the chance to go on an adventure while you're
away, and you'll sleep soundly knowing Fido is in the best possible
You can also purchase a gift card to give to a fellow pet parent, which can be redeemed for all services available in the Wag! app, including Wag! Vet Chat, training, walking, sitting, and more!
If your pupper loves a good game of fetch, then they'll go nuts for a ball launcher like the Chuckit! Some dogs and their balls are inseparable, and your pupper will love you even more if you can launch their favorite toy even further. It's also a great toy to bring with you on your next outdoor camping adventure!
Quality time is a fun love language to share with a pet, but how do you know if it’s your pet’s love language? A dog with this love language will often grab their leash and “ask” for a walk or start jumping excitedly at the mention of a car ride. They might also smile lovingly at you when relaxing at the park.
So how do you speak this love language to a dog you spend all your time around? Quality time is much different than just being around your pet. Take them for a long walk, play a great game of fetch, or hit the dog park for some fun socialization. Not only are these fun exercises to do with your dog, but they’re also excellent ways to bond.
Here are a few more ideas for dogs whose love language is quality time:
Scentwork is a "furrific" exercise to engage and mentally stimulate your pup. If you don't feel up to classes, try some scentwork games at home. Hide-and-seek with treats is also a super fun way to test out your pupper's nose.
Flirt poles are a fun spin on playtime and a terrific way to speak the quality time love language to your pet. Flirt poles are essentially a string with a toy on the end tied to a rod. In essence, they're a jumbo-sized cat toy — and a lot of fun for dogs!
You can easily DIY a flirt pole, or purchase one for cheap from a big-box pet store or online retailer. You'll have a blast watching Fido zoom around, and Fido will be thrilled just to spend time with you.
Doing yoga with your canine companion is a "furrific" way to find some inner peace. Doggy yoga has
all sorts of benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and cortisol
levels. It also helps strengthen the core and increase flexibility.
Besides the health benefits, dog yoga is a great way to involve your woofer in your hobbies. So roll out your mat, put on some ambient music, and remember to breathe.
Take a dog-friendly walking tour to keep yourself and your pooch in top shape. Exploring the town on paw is an exciting way to spend quality time with your fur-baby and learn about new places you've never noticed. Link up with a tour group, or plot your own course for a fun adventure.
Assisted living residents absolutely adore visitors, and pups are no exception. Taking Fido to snuggle with the residents is sure to brighten their day and bring them comfort. Find an assisted living facility near you to spread the love and make some new friends!
Related: A Day in the Life of a Therapy Dog
Many acts of service for dogs overlap with the other love languages. Things like grooming, massages, going to the park, and long walks all fall into this category. Your pet may exhibit acts of service behaviors by bringing you things, licking you, or “guarding” you. Retrievers, German Shepherds, and common service dog breeds often exhibit these behaviors naturally.
Here are a few ways you can say "I love you" to a pup whose love language is acts of service:
Do you and Fifi live in a tropical area with lots of sunshine? Take a trip to experience the snow together — or vice versa! We are sure you'll both appreciate the change of scenery! Just don't forget to pack the right apparel for you and your woofer — booties work wonders for protecting sensitive paws in extreme temperatures.
Do you forbid your hyper hound from sleeping in your bed? Are certain areas of the house off-limits to four-legged residents? Show your fur-baby you care and let them enjoy those off-limits activities now and then. You might let your dog sleep in with you on weekends or invite them into the kitchen while you're having your morning coffee.
Pro tip: This act of service works best for trained dogs who know to respect your boundaries. If your pup is still learning the rules of the roost, use pet gates or a crate to enforce boundaries until their obedience training is complete. Otherwise, you risk sending mixed messages about what is and isn't allowed.
Pack a couple of sandwiches and a bag of dog treats and head down to your local park. Lassie will love lounging on the blanket in the sunshine and watching the world go by. (And, of course, munching on their treats!)
If you live within driving distance of a body of water, chances are you'll find dog-friendly boat tours nearby. If all else fails, take a day trip to your local state park and rent a canoe. Max will love floating along the water and feeling the fresh air in their fur. Just don't forget the doggy life jacket!
Whether you love a lazy lapdog or an energetic athlete, there's an activity for every pup. Tap into your inner zen with a doggy yoga session. Or get your adrenaline pumping on a bikejoring excursion. The "pawssibilities" are truly endless!
Dogs make the best dinner dates. Whether you're just grabbing a burger at a fast-food joint or going gourmet on a dog-friendly patio, Fido won't be fussy. Looking to plan a truly special outing? Research dog-friendly restaurants near you. Find out whether they offer complimentary dog treats, off-leash play areas, or special menu items for canine customers.
No matter what love language your dog has, remember it’s the effort that counts. So snuggle up, give lots of pets, talk to them, and go for a walk. Your dog will appreciate whatever you do — and remember, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to speak your pupper’s love language.
Do you have a special thing you do to speak your pup's love language? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
Share your V-Day snaps with us on Instagram @wag for a chance to be featured on our feed!
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