How to tell if your dog loves you
We love our dogs. They are soft, cuddly, make you laugh when you feel sad and are better entertainment than TV. They make sure you get off the couch and stay fit, and they always keep you on your toes. Did I mention they are also so cute?! Long story short: The list of reasons why dogs are amazing pets can go on and on and on. But that’s not why you clicked on this blog article. Even though you would catch a bullet for your dog, how do you know if that love is reciprocated? Here are the 6 signs that show that your dog does in fact, love you back (and not just the treats in your pocket):
1. They seek physical contact
Dogs make great cuddle buddies. Laying on the couch and snuggling with your best friend isn’t just pleasant for humans, but also dogs! Oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, is a hormone that is associated with empathy, bonding and love. Research has shown that this hormone is also released in a dog’s blood during petting. ‘'Given oxytocin came about to help bonding, it seems that domesticated animals form bonds and feel love in the same way we do.' (Prigg, 2015) So now you have even more reason to spoil your dog with belly rubs!
2. They seek eye contact
Are you noticing that your dog tends to stare into your eyes for a long period of time? This could mean that he or she loves you! (As long as you are not having dinner, because those big puppy eyes are only begging for your food). According to Science, the same oxytocin is released when an owner and dog look each other in the eyes. During the study, the results have shown a 130% oxytocin increase in the dogs when they looked into their owner's eyes. (Grimm, 2015)
3. They follow you around
You are walking to the bathroom, and your dog is happily trotting behind you. When you sit down for dinner, your dog is sitting next to you. Your dog has become your shadow and follows you wherever you go. Dogs are pack animals, meaning their families are very important to them. In this case, you are the leader of their pack, which they also need to protect. (Erickson, 2021) However, if this behaviour becomes extreme, your dog might suffer from separation anxiety. If this is the case, there are several ways you can help him feel more at ease without you.
4. They love your scent
As most of us know, a dog sees the world through its nose, and they tend to respond strongly to certain smells. In a study with different dogs and different smells, the results showed that a dog’s reward part of the brain responded much more strongly to the smell of its owner than to the smells of an unfamiliar person or another dog. (Preidt, 2014) The owner wasn’t present during this research. This could also explain why your dog might steal your clothes or socks. They just want to have your smell close! If that isn’t loyalty then we don’t know what is.
Huh yawning? It might sound strange, but yawning can indeed be a sign of affection! We all know that yawning is contagious. But did you know you are more likely to yawn when it’s done by someone you are close to? As humans, we tend to copy each other's emotions. That’s why crying and laughing are also contagious. This copying behaviour is a version of empathy. Research has shown that dogs are more likely to yawn with someone they have a close bond with (Hare, 2013). It’s a fun test to do at home! Yawn and see what your dog does. But don’t get discouraged if your dog doesn’t yawn back. We are sure that he still loves you!
6. Tail wagging
This one might be self-explanatory, but there are actually a lot of reasons why a dog wags its tail. And yes, to show affection is one of them! But have a close look at which direction your dog’s tail is going. Studies have researched that dogs tend to wag their tail more to the right side when they see someone they are emotionally close to. (Becker, 2016)
M. Prigg, The 'cuddle hormone' that shows your dog really DOES love you, Mail Online, 2015
D. Grimm, How dogs stole our hearts, Science | AAAS, 2015
Union Lake Pet Services, Why Does My Dog Follow Me to the Bathroom? Can I Get Some Privacy?, 2020
R. Preidt, Your dog Truly Loves Your Scent, Fetch by WebMD
B. Hare, V. Woods, Does your dog Love You? Yawn and Find Out (Op-Ed), LiveScience, 2013
M. Becker, 6 Signs Your Dog Loves You, Vetstreet, 2016