We all hope that our dogs love us just as much as we love them. But while we express our feelings multiple times a day, communication with a dog isn’t so simple. How do we know if our dogs love us for real, or if they simply love that we fill their food bowls? Do they see us as family, or are we two hands that can open gates and fluff their pillows?
Your dog will never say those three little words out loud, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t show her love. Dogs express feelings of affection through behavior and body language.
If your dog does any of these things, consider yourself loved.
1. Your dog voluntarily seeks physical contact.
Not every dog is a fan of hugs. You should never force an unfamiliar dog to get all close and cozy, but a lot of dogs express their feelings through physical contact.
If your dog jumps into your lap every time you sit down and is always ready for a good snuggle session, that’s a good sign that she loves you. Getting that close to a human puts dogs in a vulnerable position, but when they love you, they feel perfectly safe in your arms.
2. Your dog likes to steal your clothes and shoes.
No one actually wants their dog to chew up their shoes or run through the house with stolen underwear in their mouth. But on the bright side, stealing your stuff on a regular basis is usually a sign your dog loves you.
When you are your dog’s favorite person, they love everything about you–especially your smell. Your dog considers your specific scent almost like a delicacy. It’s a smell that makes them feel safe, happy, and comfortable.
That’s why so many of our furry friends like to steal our things. Sometimes they do it just because they’re bored and feeling mischievous, but they also do it when they want to feel closer to the person they love.
So when you catch your dog ruining yet another pair of socks, don’t be mad for long. She’s basically showing you how much you mean to her.
3. Your dog isn’t afraid to make direct eye contact.
A recent scientific study shows that making eye contact is another way dogs bond with their humans. The study found that when our pups stare into our eyes over a 30-minute time frame, their levels of oxytocin increase. Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone,” and it’s responsible for the warm and fuzzy feelings mothers feel when they look at their babies.
Researchers believe that dogs have adapted to use eye contact as a means to communicate with humans and form social bonds. So when your dog looks into your eyes, there’s a good chance their brain is producing the love hormone that makes them feel extra connected to you.
It’s important to note, however, that you should never make direct eye contact with an unfamiliar or threatening dog. This can be construed as a challenge.
4. They always get excited when you come home.
This is one of the best things about dogs. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone for weeks or only a few minutes–your dog is always happy to see you.
Young dogs love to rush to the door and do a little dance. Some pick up the closet objects and present them to you like presents. It’s they’re way of saying, “I missed you! I love you!”
Your senior pup might not jump up and wag their tail a million miles a minute like they used to, but they still get excited when you walk through the door. Take note of how they look you in the eye or lean in for a few pets.
5. Your dog regularly asks you to play.
Playtime is an important part of your pup’s day. When you’re their best friend, you’re also their favorite playmate. Play has nothing to do with your dog’s basic survival, and if they regularly ask you to grab the other end of a tug toy, you know they love you for more than your ability to fill their food bowl.
Different dogs enjoy different types of play, and when your pup loves you, they’ll let you know how they want to have fun. Sometimes your job is to throw a ball a thousand times in a row, and other dogs like games like fetch or chase.
6. Your dog leans into your legs.
As social pack animals, dogs thrive with physical closeness. They like to sleep with their humans at bedtime, and when they really feel bonded to you, they seek closeness whenever they can. Has your dog ever leaned into your legs as you reach down to pet them? That’s a good sign they love you.
In certain situations, dogs lean into their favorite humans looking for comfort. Nervous or anxious dogs do this in stressful situations. But even confident dogs like to lean when they’re with their favorite people.
7. Your dog is calm and relaxed when you’re around.
After the flurry of fur that happens when you first walk through the door, a dog in love is likely to behave calmly and relaxed around their favorite people. They feel perfectly content to let their guard down and simply enjoy someone’s company.
You can tell when your dog is relaxed by paying attention to their body language and facial features. Their mouth might be slightly open or closed, but not clenched. The ears will be in a relaxed, natural position, and their eyes will have an almost sleepy look to them.
Do you know why dogs stare at you? Find out here.