We show love to our dogs in many ways. We take care of their physical needs. We feed them, take them on walks, shelter them, and protect their health. We pet them adoringly and dote on them. We pamper our beloved pooches by adjusting our routines for their benefit. And just as we dearly love them, we are blessed, indeed, that they sincerely do love us in return.
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Signs a Dog Knows They are Loved
Dogs show ways that are demonstrative with behaviors that are active. They also show their feelings in ways that are more subtle, by posture and expressions of the facial features, ears, mouth, and body. Part of being a good owner is taking the time to learn your dog's disposition and signals so that you can continue to have a loving and communicative relationship.
Signs of love in your dog can be very subtle. If you know what to watch for, you will be able to appreciate the deep affection you share. Dogs will stare at persons and things they adore. Those big, loving eyes are for you! Researchers have shown that dogs will lift the left eyebrow when they see their beloved owner. If you can't see the eyebrow, you may watch for the left ear to move back.
Other signs of affection and appeasement are blinking and licking. You may find your dog looking calm when near you, having a relaxed stance, smooth nose and brow, and outward extended tail. Your dog may have an open mouth with the tongue hanging relaxed, just taking in the scent of you and enjoying time together.
There are a number of ways that dogs show appreciation for the love you show. Your dog will come to you and seek you out for comfort. Being near to you is such a comfort that your dog will lean on you. You may even find your dog stealing your clothes to lay on because your scent brings such happiness.
Just as you bring your dog treats and special toys, your dog may come to you with a favorite item for play or to share. There is nothing more endearing than the greeting your dog will give you when you come home at the end of the day. The special thing about love is that it is a reciprocal emotion and your dog is most willing to show loyalty and affection as your best friend.
- Ears back
- Tongue hanging
- Showing affection back to you
- Having a calm disposition
- Leaning on you
- Bringing you toys
- Stealing your clothes to lay on
- Being happy to see you when you come home
The History of Dogs Knowing How Much We Love Them
The relationship between man and dog began with friendly wolves who visited the perimeter of human communities. Man and dog learned to interpret one another's signs and to work together for hunt, protection, and survival. Over the centuries, we shaped one another's brain structures and emotional capacities. The loyalty and companionship of man and dog is truly unique among species.
The Science of Dogs Knowing We Love Them
In one study, scientists trained dogs to stay calm while sitting in the MRI. They wanted to measure the reactions of the dog's brain when exposed to the scent of their owner versus other stimuli. They learned that the parts of the brain that were activated by the owner were the reward centers and "love" parts of the brain that are stimulated in humans by feelings of love.
Another group of researchers studied the capacity of the dog to have cognitive structures to discriminate human emotions. They had people stand by speakers. The speaker emitted voices that did and did not match the facial emotions of the people. The dogs spent more time staring at the faces if the voices did not match the facial expressions.
These findings were interpreted as evidence that the dogs had a cognitive expectation and representation of human emotion. Other evidence is showing that dogs will have elevated levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) when they are exposed to their owner. Just because you are so adored by your dog, remember that your scent makes your dog feel secure because you exemplify security and protection. Lucky you - to give and receive the gift of love in your life!
Helping Your Dog Feel the Love
Between the ages of 7 weeks to 4 months is the critical period for you to teach your dog to be social. Begin by touching your dog. Touch the ears and nose and pet the pup's body. Gradually have other family members pet and hold the pup. Expose the pup to different textures, sounds, and sights. As the pup is growing, begin to take the pup out of the home and into different environments with different people.
This is also the time to teach the pup basic commands. Your pup will need to learn to Come, Sit, Stay, Lay Down, and Heel.
Always be positive and patient with your pup. This method of training is one in which you make it really exciting and positive when your pup approximates the behavior you want. Be consistent. Keep commands to one word and stay calm with your pup.
A good place to begin is with teaching the pup to come. Get down to the pup's level. Say, "Come" and hold our your hands. When your pup comes to you, give praise and a treat. Your pup will learn it's a good thing to come when called.
Take a puppy class so that you can be the leader your pup needs to cultivate your loving relationship.
How to React to Your Dog Knowing You Love Them:
Do not treat your pup like a human.
Use obedience commands consistently.
Teach your dog to be calm.
Identify strategies to help your dog overcome natural anxieties.
Do not give the dog run of the house - give the dog designated areas.