So, is there any scientific evidence for how dogs actually sense and feel love? Does your dog even realize what they feel for you is love? Although the answer is not black and white, canine cognition experts suggest your dog does indeed sense and feel love and they can understand just how much you love them!
Signs of a Dog Sensing Love
If your dog makes eye contact with you frequently and locks eyes with you for an extended period of time, this suggests your dog is showing you they love you. This gaze means your dog has a strong connection and bond with you and they are comfortable around you.
Furthermore, if your dog is in a new environment or on a walk, they will look back at you and make eye contact regularly. Looking back and making this eye contact is to make sure you are still there and everything is ok. They are looking for your approval and/or guidance.
Your dog may also like to jump, bark, howl, spin in circles, or make silly, excited noises when they are around you. Reciprocating the excitement with belly scratches, hugs, and head pats show your dog you love them back as well. They can sense your happiness and energy, as well as read facial expressions and body language that prove to them you love them. Your dog is able to sense that love.
If your dog comes when you call them, perks up when you say their name or talk to them, steals your clothes and waltzes around the house with them, is relaxed and calm in your presence, and actively comes to you for affection, your dog loves you and can sense the love you feel towards them in those moments.
- Wag tail
- Tail up
- Ears up
- Checking in with you on walks and new environments
- Making frequent eye contact
- Excited behavior around you, like kisses and snuggles
- Responding when you call them
History of Dogs Sensing Love
Dogs and humans have always had a very strong connection, at least once their domestication process began. Domestication of dogs started from wolves slowly transitioning over a period of around 10,000 years, although there is some debate surrounding this exact number. Fully domesticated dogs, the dogs we have as pets today, are anywhere between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago.
As this process of domesticated went on, humans and dogs began to form an even deeper bond. Dogs began to almost completely rely on their human counterparts to take care of them, feed them, bring them water, and provide them with attention. It is likely your dog would be able to make it in the wild if they had no other choice, your dog would likely struggle and feel isolated and unloved without any human contact.
Since this love bond is so strong, your dog's ability to sense and feel love, from you and for you, is a deep-rooted biological and emotional trait. Your dog must sense and feel your love in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. This is why dogs that are abandoned and neglected are generally able to rehabilitate and crave affection from humans once again. Dogs are meant to be loved and to show love.
Science Behind Dogs Sensing Love
If we look at this behavior from a scientific standpoint, your dog can sense love because they can sense the levels of oxytocin in your brain rise when you are feeling happy to see them. They use their sense of smell to detect this rise in your hormone, oxytocin, which is your happiness hormone. Once your dog senses this, they begin to feel happy and excited as well. This, along with a combination of facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language help them make this conclusion as well.
There have also been multiple studies that suggest your dog sees you are part of their pack and their family. In a study, dogs were presented with objects that had their owner's scent and objects that did not have their owner's scent. When the dog smelled the object that had their owner's scent, parts of their brain lit up with high levels of activity, compared to the object that didn't have this special and recognizable scent.
This interesting study confirms that your dog has a special love and connection with you.
Training Dogs to Bond with You Better
You can simply try and spend more time with your dog. This may sound a bit too simple, but we are often so busy with our own lives we put spending special time with our dog on the backburner. This can lead to a lack of affection and connection with your dog and your dog may even begin to act out in order to get more attention from you. Therefore, take time to rub their belly, scratch their ears, talk to them, and take them to the dog park to chase a ball and play with other pups.
If you regularly exercise during the day and do an activity your dog can participate in as well, like walking, hiking, running, or biking, take your dog with you. Your dog will feel so excited they get to do an activity with you they normally don't do and both you and your dog also get your much-needed exercise together.
You can also opt for playing games with each other. Dogs love to fetch, chase, and tug. Simply take them out into the backyard or to a park and let them play fetch, chase a ball, or teach them some fun tricks.
Training with your dog will also bond both of you closer to each other. Training will reinforce to your dog that you are their pack leader and it gives them confidence in your ability to control and take care of them in the most loving way. Your dog will learn to listen to your better, develop better recall, giving them more of a purpose in their day-to-day life with you.
How to React to a Dog Sensing Love:
Give it right back with praise and affection!
Devote time every day to your dog.
Put effort into training them and doing things they like to do.