What Is Your Dog’s Love Language? Signs Your Dog Loves You
How to interpret your pup’s affectionate behavior.
What are signs your dog loves you? And how does your dog show love? A snuggle at the end of the day? Wet puppy kisses? Bringing you their prized stuffed toy?
February is a month filled with love, so in this moment, we are compelled to consider how our dogs show us their love and the true meaning of puppy love. Once we understand how our dogs show us their love, and why do dogs love humans, we can figure out the most meaningful ways to show love back to them. It all comes down to understanding your dog’s behavior, and how to tell your dog you love them.
Do Dogs Feel Love?
Does my dog know I love him? Absolutely. Not only do dogs feel love, dogs understand love. Modern science shows that dogs are incredible animals with a high level of mental function. While dogs don’t feel emotions like guilt, pride, or shame, they feel excitement, anger, distress, joy, and, most importantly, love.
One study found that like human babies, dogs that stare into our eyes activate the same hormones that help us to bond with them. Research has also found that mutual gazing and petting increased oxytocin in both the participating dogs and humans studied, demonstrating that dogs love us.
Additionally, Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University, found that parts of dogs’ brains light up when they hear their pet parents’ voices. The interesting part? In humans, this part of the brain is the same part that lights up when we think of something we love or are fond of.
Does My Dog Love Me?
So, why do dogs love humans? It’s likely due to a gene mutation in wolves that changed how certain wolves socialized. This led to the development of the modern dog through domestication and breeding and their fierce companionship with humans.
However, this may lead some of us to wonder do dogs feel love for their owners, or is it just an act dogs put on to “earn” food and have access to shelter?
While the food is undoubtedly a bonus, the same study by Gregory Burns found that most dogs’ neurological responses reacted to food and praise equally. Even more surprising is that 20% of these dogs had stronger responses when praised than given food. This tells us that dogs love us at least as much as food, if not more, which is pretty impressive!
Do dogs pick a favorite person?
Dogs are pack animals, and often gravitate towards a person they feel confident in as a leader. How else can you tell that your dog is in love? A variety of factors can affect who they’re drawn to, such as how affectionate or attentive they are, their overall demeanor, or how often they cater to their basic needs.
Can dogs feel love from their owners?
Science absolutely supports the theory that dogs both feel and understand love. In fact, when you hug, play, or gaze at your dog (provided they enjoy these things), both of your oxytocin levels go up, which supports bonding and yes, “love.”
How do you know if your dog’s favorite person?
Besides their insistence on following you everywhere? They make regular eye contact, seek out moments of physical intimacy and play, listen and respond to what you ask of them, and perhaps even bring you presents (hopefully not that dead bird from the backyard). All good signs your dog loves you.
Do dogs know we love them?
Clearly, yes! And they’re most likely to show love when they feel love themselves, so the easiest way to judge your bond is to observe how that love is reciprocated.
Do dogs feel love when you kiss them?
While kissing is not a physical behavior expressed by and amongst dogs, they can come to recognize your kisses as signs of love and affection.
What kind of love do dogs feel?
While dogs don’t feel romantic love, they absolutely feel familial love, or the type of love akin to a deep friendship.
How do I tell my dog I love him?
Affection, attention, and exercise are obvious answers, as well as making sure they are well cared for and fed (PetPlate can help with that). But structure, boundaries and training are also part of the equation. As we mentioned earlier, dogs feel most comfortable and confident when they are in the care of a strong and fair leader.
A Guide to Your Dog’s Body Language & Behavior
How do dogs show affection? Before we decode different dog body language signs, we want to establish what an average, happy dog will usually show with its body language. This is an essential factor when it comes to how does a dog show love.
A dog’s typical, happy body will appear relaxed with their ears in a natural position. A dog’s mouth will typically be open and relaxed when comfortable, and their hair will lay smoothly on their body. These are physical signs your dog loves you.
Keep reading to learn more about dog body language, and see our dog body language chart on how do dogs feel love.
What Does It Mean When a Dog Wags Its Tail?
A dog’s tail says a lot. However, it can also be a way for your dog to explore their environment, so how do we know when there is meaning behind the tail wagging?
Dog tail position meaning has a significant impact on what a dog is trying to convey. Research found that dogs that wagged their tail to the right were shown to have a more relaxed posture and a slower heart rate. In contrast, dogs who wagged their tail to the left were typically in a more defensive position and had an accelerated heart rate. So if you notice your dog’s tail wagging one way or the other, we recommend paying attention to the direction their tail is wagging.
We typically think that dogs wagging their tails are happy. However, it’s important to note that dog tail wagging is not always a sign of happiness. Dog tail wagging meaning can vary, and it’s essential to ask the owner before petting someone else’s dog, even if they are wagging their tail.
What Does a Dog Head Tilt Mean?
Many of us love that cute pose our dog does when they tilt their head. However, what does a dog head tilt actually mean? Does it mean that your dog’s showing love?
Dogs have a better sense of hearing than we do, but their hearing is more directional than ours. Unlike humans, who can hear and detect sounds regardless of the direction the sound is coming from, dogs need to have their ears turned towards the sound. On top of this, dog ear flaps can also partially or entirely cover their ear canal, so they need to adjust their ear flaps to hear optimally.
When a dog tilts their head, this can help dogs adjust their ear flaps or move their ears in the direction of a sound. This allows the dog to better assess the source and distance of the sound.
While we may think our dogs are trying to look extra cute for us when they tilt their heads, it’s more likely that they are trying to adjust their ears to hear better.
Dog Sleeping Positions Meaning
A dog’s sleeping position can give us insight into their behavior and if they feel safe and comfortable in their environment. Here are a few of the most common dog sleeping positions, what they mean, and if they’re signs your dog loves you:
If your pup tends to flop over on their side to sleep, this is a great sign. Typically, this indicates optimal trust and relaxation in their environment.
If your dog sleeps with their head on top of their paws, this is a good indication of a dog that is protective and loyal to you. In this position, a dog can relax but still be ready to jump into action at any time.
If your pup sleeps on their belly with their legs resting on the floor, this is typically an indication that they are a playful dog who plays hard and snoozes hard.
If your dog sleeps tightly curled up with their limbs tucked close to their body, this indicates that they are a caring dog but may be feeling anxious. If your dog is new to their home, this is a common protective position. It may also be a sign that they are cold and trying to preserve body heat.
Can Dogs Smile?
Dogs can smile. However, a dog smile doesn’t have the same meaning as a human smile. Most of the time, it indicates happiness or is a learned behavior that dogs have picked up on.
However, it can also indicate that your dog is overheated and panting, or a dog can be baring their teeth aggressively. As a result, it’s recommended that we always assess the rest of a dog’s body language. Is their posture rigid or relaxed? Is their tail wagging or pressed flat against the ground?
Take a moment to analyze your dog’s overall body language rather than depending solely on their smile because it’s not as consistent of a sign your dog loves you as it is in humans.
How Do Dogs Say Sorry?
A sorry dog may show it by having their tail between their legs, widened eyes, reduced panting, and drooping ears. Often, when we assume our dog is saying sorry, we are actually projecting our own emotions on them.
Most dogs may not know they did anything wrong unless their owner immediately conveys this to them. As a result, many dog trainers recommend practicing positive reinforcement methods by rewarding good behaviors because dogs are usually unable to connect your anger to their bad behavior, which often leads to repeat incidents. In short, dogs usually don’t say sorry because they don’t typically know they’ve done anything wrong.
Determine Your Dog’s Love Language
No matter how you show love, we’re sure your pup appreciates it, but wouldn’t it be nice to know how they prefer to feel love and even how they show affection to you?
Like humans, different dogs show and feel love in different ways. Today, we’re going to discuss the popular five human love languages and how they may show up in your dog, and how to identify what your dog responds best to.
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
Physical touch is all about cuddles, petting, ear rubs, and much more. Your pup may have physical touch as their love language if they love nothing more than curling up with you at the end of the day, if they love sleeping at your feet while you work, and if they snuggle against your leg while you sleep.
If your dog has a physical touch love language, here’s how to make dogs feel loved. Take breaks to pet your pup, rub their ears, and give them a belly rub. If possible, snuggle with them on the couch or your bed at the end of the day.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are all about compliments, praise, and saying, “I love you.”
Kind, encouraging words speak loudly for pups with this love language. Your pup may have this as their love language if they light up when you call them a “good boy” or you tell them how adorable they are. If your dog has this as their love language, try verbalizing praise even more. Your pup may show words of affirmation to you by being more vocal and cooing.
Is your pup thrilled to spend time lounging on the couch with you or hiking with you for hours on end? Do they love being in the same room with you constantly, maybe to the point where they follow you to the bathroom?
If so, your pup may have the quality time love language. Give your dog quality time by letting them hang out in the same room with you, spending dedicated one on one time with them, and putting away your phone and other distractors to play with them.
Acts of Service
Acts of service is all about reducing the burden of responsibilities on the other person. If your dog has acts of service as their love language, they may try to help you out by picking up their toys, playing with your kids, or acting as your protector.
Try showing a dog with acts of service as their love language love by thanking them for their acts of service and spending quality time with them.
Does your pup light up with excitement whenever you give them a new toy or treat? Do they carry around their most prized possessions with them from room to room? If so, your dog’s love language may be gifts.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism. It’s all about thoughtful gifts and gestures of love. Remembering your pup’s birthday or giving them their favorite kind of toy or treat is a cherished moment for your pup.
If your dog has a gifts love language, try giving them special treats, toys that they’ll love to play with, or a thoughtful, special meal. If your dog loves giving you gifts, like leaves, prey they caught, or sticks from outside, they may be trying to show their love and affection for you too.
How to Show Your Dog You Love Them
A dog’s love is a beautiful thing. And no matter your pup’s love language, PetPlate is an excellent resource when it comes to how to show your dog you love them.
If your dog loves gifts, PetPlate is the perfect gift for them! However, every love language can benefit from PetPlate’s delicious, nutritionally dense meals balanced by a veterinary nutritionist. PetPlate meals can boost your dog’s energy so that they can enjoy quality time with you more, work harder to show you their acts of service, or snuggle harder at the end of a long day. How to know if your dog loves you? The outpouring of affection you’ll get for ensuring that they’re well cared for and fed!