Can Dogs Feel Love?

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Introduction

We all love our pooches to the moon and back. It's hard not to - they're adorable, slobbery, goofy little balls of love. Loving your pup is probably as easy as breathing. Dogs are literally the best creatures on the planet, and it's easy to fall in love with every ball of fur that walks by you on the street. 

And we know that they feel at least something towards us. But is that really love? When your dog is looking at you with their puppy-dog eyes, it seems like you're the most important person in their world. Is that feeling something similar to love? The answer is yes! 

Dogs absolutely have the capacity to feel many emotions, including excitement, disgust, fear, joy, and yes, love! So when your pooch is excited when you return home, or gives you slobbery kisses to wake up in the morning, or just seems to want to spend all their time with you, that's just your dog showing you that he or she loves you with their whole heart!

Signs Your Fur-Child Loves You!

We all wish our dogs could talk, but unfortunately, we haven't figured out the technology that allows that to happen (yet!). As a result, we need to look to our dog's body language to interpret their emotions, even for feelings like love. 

There are several things to look for in your dog's behavior that represent their feeling of love towards you. For one thing, like in humans, dogs that care about their owners will make eye contact. It shows that they're engaged and paying attention to you. If your dog is comfortable with you, they'll have no problem making eye contact, especially because you're their favorite person in the world! Similarly, dogs that love you will also react positively to the sign of your voice. When you come home from a long day of work and call to your dog from the front door, a dog that comes running is a dog in love! 

Another thing dogs will do if they love you is play with you! Dogs that feel comfortable around other people or animals will immediately make them their friend, and play with them as such. Dogs can sometimes play rough, wrestling, pawing, and barking at us while bouncing around. Take that as a good sign! They love you enough and find you so fun that they can't help but let out a joyful yip! 

You can also look to your pooch's booty for signs of affection. A dog that loves you will wag their tail like crazy! Full-body dances are an even more conclusive sign of love, showing that they're super excited to see you. 

Dogs that love their owners will often also snuggle with them, whether it be a day-time cuddle session, or sleeping in bed with you (if they're allowed on the furniture!). Dogs have the choice of curling up anywhere they're allowed in your house, so a dog that chooses you as what may seem like a piece of furniture may just be a sign of affection. If you want to feel the love, definitely invite your pooch up for a cuddle session! 

Body Language

Some body language cues that show that your dog loves you are:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Wag tail
  • Raise ears
  • Tail up
  • Ears up
  • Tongue hanging

Other Signs

Other signs that show your dog loves you include:
  • Bouncing Around
  • Slobbery Kisses
  • Sleeping On You
  • Eye Contact

History of Dogs Loving People

Research has shown that dogs were domesticated by humans as many as 38,000 years ago. New genetic evidence discovered in Siberia has shown that wolves and dogs split about 35,000 years ago. 

While historians debate about whether humans actually domesticated wolves or they just started following us around and domesticated themselves, either way, that's a lot of time for dogs to learn how to love their owners! 

Essentially, dogs have been man's best friend for almost as long as man has been around, so it's not surprising that our pups have developed a special way to show their love for us.

The Science Behind Love (And Other Emotions!) in Dogs

Studies have shown that our doggos basically have the mental and emotional understanding of a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler. In looking to little humans around that time, science has shown that these toddlers are able to feel the emotions of affection and love, suspicion and shyness, joy, anger, fear, disgust, contentment, distress, and excitement. Your dog has the capacity to feel and express these same emotions, though obviously in a different way than kids do.

What You Can Do To Make Your Dog Love You Even More!

  • Give them your time! Spending time with your dog will allow them to create a closer bond with you.
  • Be patient! While it's important to reprimand your dog when they do something bad, make sure you do it in a way that is productive, and not physical. If your dog is afraid of you, it'll be hard for them to love you as much as their little hearts can!
  • Go on walks! Most dogs love spending time outside. If they associate you with one of their favorite activities, like a run along the creek or a walk in the park, you give them all the more reason to love you!
  • Your dog obviously needs food to survive. Positive reinforcement and learning that you're the one that they need to look to for sustenance will help strengthen your bond with your pup.
  • Let them sleep with you! You don't have to let your dog sleep on the bed with you, but studies have shown that dogs whose owners let them at least sleep in the same room seem to have a stronger bond with their owners. Your dog wants to spend as much time with you as possible, so let them!
  • Dogs, like humans, don't like feeling like they're being left behind. Again, they want to spend as much time with you as possible! Associating you with new and fun adventures is another way to strengthen your bond with your pup.