It’s more than just giving you a big sloppy kiss when you get home. Dogs show love in a variety of ways with some of them obvious and the others much less so. But no matter how they do it, it all means the same thing: I WUB YOU, HOOMAN!
1. Looking you in the eyes.
When your dog looks at you during an affectionate moment of cuddling or playing, oxytocin is released. This is the same hormone that helps new mothers bond with their babies and is known as a “happy hormone.”
If you want to see just how connected your dog feels to you, test this out with your dog. Encourage your dog to play with you or cuddle with you while looking them in the eyes, lovingly.
Don’t just a have a staring contest with your dog because they’re likely to look away because they’re uncomfortable. Instead, try to naturally make eye contact and see how he responds. If he keeps eye contact he’s both comfortable and connected to you.
2. Yawning when you yawn.
Yawning is contagious and it’s not just with humans. Because dogs are so in tune with their human’s expressions and emotions, they also yawn when people yawn. Echoing another person’s yawning has been studied and been found to be an empathetic gesture.
While it would be nearly impossible to study a dog’s level of empathy, it’s believed that a dog yawning at that same time as you happens because the dog has bonded with you and is in tune with your emotions.
3. Leaning on you.
Does your dog ever lean on you or lay right next to you (almost on top of you)? Sometimes a dog will lean on their human because they are anxious and need emotional support, want their human to do something, or need something. All of these reasons are symbols of affection.
For example, if your dog leans on you out of pure nervousness, he likely thinks of you as someone who can protect him and keep him safe. If he sits next to you on the couch it means he’s comfortable letting you into his space and feels safe with you.
4. Cuddling with you after a meal.
Imagine a group of wild dogs and what they’d do after eating a big meal. They’d all lay around together, cuddle and nap.
Pay attention to how your dog reacts in the morning and at night after his meals. If he’s snuggling up with you after he eats, then you can assume that there are some loving feelings attached to his actions.
This means that he views you as family, and what do families do after they eat? They spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.
5. Lifting eyebrows and head-tilting.
Though most people look to a dog’s tail for an indicator of their emotional states, dog’s facial expressions are a more powerful indicator of what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.
In a recent study, dogs were introduced to their owner, a stranger, a dog toy, and an item they didn’t like. When seeing their owner, the dogs immediately lifted their eyebrows, but when they saw a stranger there was a lot less facial movement.
The same results came from introducing them to their favorite toys, then to an object they didn’t like. According to the study, this suggests the dog is more reserved when they are engaging someone they don’t know or something they don’t like.
6. Want to spend every moment with you.
Dogs are pack animals and don’t naturally spend time in solitude. They crave interaction with their pack members/ family. Does your dog follow you from room to room?
Does he lay at your feet while you work, sit in the kitchen with you while you cook or accompany you while you do any other routine activities? Better yet, does he never leave your side? These are all signs of a strong connection between you and your pup.
If your dog shows signs of stress when you leave such as nervousness, barking, or tearing things up in the house, you should read our article on relieving separation anxiety for some great ideas on calming their nerves.
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