Our dogs are some of the most loyal family members we could ever ask for. They love us no matter what kind of job we have or how much money we have in the bank. And while their love and loyalty is unconditional, there’s another emotion that is a little harder to secure—trust. Just like with people, dogs expect us to earn their trust.
If you’re curious to know whether or not your dog trusts you with their life, all you have to do is pay attention to their everyday behavior. Dogs show their emotions through body language and actions. And lucky for us, a lot of the behaviors associated with trust are on the weird side.
Keep reading to see what I’m talking about.
They stare at you while they poop.
The next time you’re on a walk and your dog goes to the bathroom, pay attention to their eyes. It’s weird and a little uncomfortable, but dogs like to look their favorite humans in the eye when they’re doing their business. The reason they do it is all about trust and protection.
When your dog stops to go to the bathroom, they’re putting themselves in a vulnerable position. They have no idea what kind of beast is going to lumber down the sidewalk while they’re indisposed. They look to you because they’re expecting you to stand guard and protect them.
This trusting behavior stems from natural instinct. In the wild, your dog’s ancestors relied on other members of the pack to have their backs during vulnerable activities. So, congratulations! That poop patrol responsibility has been passed on to you, trusted human!
They lean into your legs.
Not every dog is a leaner, but a lot of dogs show their trust by leaning hard into a person’s legs. My dog, Copper, pushes himself into my knees so hard that if I don’t brace myself, I usually fall over.
As social animals, dogs crave comfort and attention. They feel safe and content when they’re with the people they love and trust. And by leaning hard into your legs, they’re telling you that they love and trust you to always watch out for them.
For some anxiety-prone dogs, the leg leaning behavior is a way to attain both physical and emotional support. It’s like holding the hand of someone you love during a stressful situation. That physical contact goes a long way when it comes to comfort and reassurance. Some dogs only lean on their trusted humans when they’re feeling nervous, but other dogs do it every time they get the chance.
They follow you to the bathroom.
There’s no such thing as privacy when your dog trusts you completely. They see you as part of the family, and that means you’ve earned both their trust and attention. They’re not following you around the house because they’re afraid you’ll disappear, they do it because they love you and want to keep you safe. Consider it your dog’s way of returning the favor for all the ways you take care of them.
If your dog doesn’t feel the need to follow you to the bathroom, don’t worry. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t love or trust you. Some dogs are simply more independent than others. If you have a clingy dog breed, however, there’s a good chance you can’t remember the last time you went to the bathroom alone.
They automatically roll over and show you their belly.
Accepting a belly rub is always an act of trust. Dogs know that by exposing their undersides, they’re putting themselves in an extremely vulnerable position. All of their vital organs are left unprotected. Rolling over to show you their belly is a sure sign that your dog trusts you with their life.
My rescue pup, Bailey, only started showing off her belly about a year after we adopted her. She was almost four years old when we met, and she had lived in a few homes before mine. It took a while for her to trust us completely. But now that she knows we love her unconditionally. she’s more than happy to let me give that belly a good rub down.
They steal your stuff.
It definitely isn’t one of our favorite behaviors, but it’s pretty common for dogs to take things like shoes and clothes. Whether they put teeth marks in their stolen contraband or not, there could be a hidden reason behind the theft. Sure, some dogs, puppies especially, steal things because they’re bored and don’t know any better. But a lot of times, dogs steal stuff because they love and trust you.
Let me explain: Dogs put a lot of stock in their sense of smell. When they love someone, they find comfort in that person’s scent. As long as you practice daily hygiene, you and your family probably can’t tell that you each smell differently. But your dog’s sense of smell is powerful enough to distinguish between different people.
If your dog likes to rummage through the laundry basket to pull out your socks and underwear, consider it a compliment. It means they find comfort in your scent. And if you’re busy, smelling your stuff is the next best thing to being in your company. It’s how dogs show their trust, even though you’d prefer they keep their mouths away from your things.
Do you know how to tell if your dog really loves you? Find out here.