It’s so easy to fall in love with our dogs. Who can resist? They are furry and friendly, helpful and smart, loyal and forgiving. A dog can be your best companion. They never talk back and it's fun to work and play with them. And seriously, is there anyone in the family who greets you with as much enthusiasm as your dog? It's a special relationship in which we love our dogs and they seem to feel that love by the affection they show us in return.
Signs a Dog Can Tell You Love Them
Most of our communication with one another is nonverbal. We communicate with our looks, our proximity, our vocalizations, and posture. The same is true for our dogs. They may not have the ability to speak words of affection, but they show us their love in many ways by their body language as well. Lucky for us in our special bond, there are many ways we can show one another the love.
Dogs are social and affectionate creatures. They will come to you and nuzzle up to family members with whom they have a strong, positive relationship. Dogs will show affection by licking their owner and giving sloppy dog kisses. The dog will appear relaxed and confident with a smooth brow and nose. The mouth will be open with the tongue hanging loosely. The tail may be relaxed or if the dog is especially happy to see you, the tail will be wagging to the right. You might even find your dog smiling with happiness when getting quality time with you.
They show their trust in you by their loyalty to you. Just as you bring toys and treats to your dog, you may find your caring canine bringing you their favorite toy. Dogs can tell human emotions and they reciprocate your love with attention to you. Your dog can experience your praise, patience, and adoration by being attentive to you and pleasing you.
Dogs will not remember if you were in a good mood or bad mood when you got out of bed in the morning. What they will do when they see you is to be excited and happy to be with you again, anticipating the love and good times that you will once more share together.
- Wag tail
- Ears back
More obvious cues your dog will give that lets you know they feel the love are:
- Being happy to see you
- Bringing you toys
- Being attentive to you
- Snuggling up to you
The History of Dogs Knowing We Love Them
Scientists have considered the evolution of the emotions in the dog. From studies with wolves, they have demonstrated that dogs have a disposition towards social adjustments and tolerance to survive in a pack. They have also learned that dogs are attentive to facial cues in people.
We might imagine the first human and dog relationships as based on the instincts of the dog to adapt to others and to be responsive to the human ability to share food, provide shelter and work with the animal. As dogs have been bred to work and live with man, their aptitudes to be companions and have the skills we find pleasing have been cultivated. In turn, our society is evolving to be better caretakers to dogs and to appreciate their lives from their perspective with more efforts to rescue them and provide compassionate training.
There are explicit things you can do to communicate your love to your dog. Here are some suggestions:
1. Gaze deeply into your dog's eyes. (This works with people, too!) Speak softly while you pet your dog softly and stare into the eyes. This will make the dog feel loved by stimulating the release of oxytocin, the love hormone.
2. Raise your eyebrows and show facial expressions. A study in Japan showed that dogs raise their left eyebrow when they see someone they love. They respond to facial expressions in humans.
3. Lean on them.
4. Let them sleep with you. It is a sign of trust because that is when the dog is the most vulnerable.
5. Be yourself. Be confident and relaxed with your dog.
6. Rub your dog's ears. The ears send sensations through the dog's body that stimulate endorphins, and that makes them feel good.
7. Feed your dog by hand. This makes you a provider and creates positive associations.
Showing your love is all about the positive relationship you build with your dog and the good affection you display.
The Science of Dogs Knowing We Love Them
Scientists have pondered the emotional life of the dog. They have established convincing evidence that our dogs are able to interpret and respond to our emotions - even our emotions of love. Dogs are thought to have the mental abilities of a two to three-year-old child. They are not just responding to the emotional energies in the room but they demonstrate the cognitive structures to interpret human emotions.
A research team let dogs look at pictures of humans and dogs. They then associated vocalizations with the pictures that were congruent and incongruent with the images. The dogs spent more time looking at the pictures when the vocalization matched the emotions of the facial expressions. These findings were interpreted as indicating that the dogs had constructs of emotions in humans and other species.
Your dog may also understand your words of affection when you are saying “I love you”. In another study, dogs were trained to sit in the MRI. They were then presented with words of different valence. The dogs processed words in the same hemisphere in the brain as humans.
The evidence is mounting that dogs learn at cognitive and emotional levels. They are not merely responding to chains of behavior. While dogs can vary in experience, temperament, and intelligence, it is most likely that your dog is very capable to feel your love.
Building a Strong Relationship with Your Dog
Some people make the mistake of showing love to the dog by spoiling their pet. The spoiled dog is not a happy dog. Your love is best shown to your dog by being a responsible owner. This requires you to provide your dog the physical care and training to be healthy, confident and safe. Do not treat your dog like a baby. It is your job to be a leader. Your dog needs to know their place in the family and trust you will keep control of the environment. Show your love through your leadership.
How to React to Your Dog Being Able to Feel Love:
Socialize your pup with gradual exposures to sights, sounds, touch, people, and places.
Teach your dog obedience commands like Sit, Stay, Come, Leave It, and Heel.
Take your dog for vaccines and check-ups.
Feed your dog healthy, science-based dog food.
Provide appropriate dog toys.
Use gates and crates.
Always be positive and patient with your dog.