As dog owners, we know that we love our dogs. We know that these fantastic pets are really human’s best friends and that they make our lives better. They’re fun, funny, and loyal, and they’ll always lift us up while we are down. In fact, many of us think about our dogs in the same way that other people think about children.
One thing many of us wonder, though, is whether dogs actually feel the same kind of affection for their owners as we do for them. The good news, however, is that we have a definitive answer. Dogs absolutely love their humans, something that’s actually rather easy to tell if you know a little bit more about how dogs show affection.
So, how do we know that our dogs love us? Keep reading – you’re about to find out!
Signs Your Dog Loves You
Are you curious about whether your dog loves you? The easiest way to figure this out is to look to see if your dog displays any of the following signs of affection.
Eye contact is a huge deal in the animal kingdom. When animals of many kinds feel uncomfortable, the first thing they’ll do is avert their eyes. Failing to do so can be seen as a challenge among other animals, but it’s something different with dogs and humans. If your dog is willing to look you in the eye, it’s because he or she feels very safe with you.
Dogs don’t just feel safe when they look you in the eye, though. Studies have shown that when dogs look their owners in the eye, their brains release oxytocin – the same chemical that is released when a human feels love and affection. It’s actually the same kind of hormone that mother dogs release when they look at their babies.
So, how can you tell that your dog is looking at you because he or she loves you? Check to see if your dog makes eye contact with you when you’re playing with a favorite toy or sitting around on the couch. If your dog makes unforced eye contact, he or she is feeling some real affection.
This one makes a lot of sense. After all, you’re not going to spend time cuddling with someone you hate and your dog isn’t going to do that either. Your dog is only going to spend time cuddling if he or she wants to be there.
If your dog is leaning against you, you’re looking at a dog who loves you. You may also be looking at a dog who sees you as a safe space and a protector. Either way, you’ll know that your dog absolutely wants to spend as much time with you as possible.
Sleeping With You
Sure, your bed may be comfortable but the real reason that your dog is around is that he or she loves you. It doesn’t matter if your dog physically sleeps in your bed or just spends time on his or her dog bed in your room – your dog wants to be as close to you as possible during this vulnerable time. When your dog chooses to sleep in the bedroom with you, he or she is trying to show that you are a part of his or her pack.
Excited When You Return
Dogs who go absolutely nuts when you get home are dogs who absolutely love you. If you’re wondering why your dog gets the zoomies, starts going crazy with kisses and tail wagging, or even peeing a little when you walk in the front door, it’s probably a good sign that your dog is happy to see your face. It’s not just because you are the person who feeds and waters the dog, either – it’s because you are the dog’s personality and he or she is happy to see you at home.
Carrying Your Things
Does your dog love to carry around your old socks? Is your dog a fiend for dirty laundry? If so, he or she is simply trying to show that he or she loves having your scent around. Given the importance of smell to dogs, this is a good sign that your dog wants to be around you even when you are not available. If that’s not a sign of love, it’s hard to know what is.
Checking On You
Some people think that dogs who like to do their own thing can’t be dogs who love humans. While we know that cuddlers are very loving, what we might not realize is that wanderers who like to check in on you every so often feel the same way. If you think about it, it makes sense that an independent-minded dog who likes to do his or her own thing would only check in on a person if he or she actually cared about that person.
Dogs tend to love physical affection, which is why dogs like to be pet. They may not all love affection in the same ways – some dogs love to be pet and nothing more, while other dogs want to be held. There are even some dogs who, contrary to popular belief, even love to be hugged. What matters, though, is that a dog who always wants your touch is a dog who actually loves you.
It’s important to remember that this only really counts if the dog seeks out physical contact. No amount of forced hugs will make a dog love you, so make sure that you respect the boundaries of any dogs who you do not already know.
The Happy Pee
Yes, this is gross. Yes, it’s a pain to clean up. It is, however, also a sign that your dog is really happy to know that you’re around. Peeing is one of those involuntary reactions to authority that shows not only that your dog actually loves you, but that your dog understands that you are in charge. While you might not appreciate the mess, you’ve got to appreciate your dog’s respect.
Has your dog ever brought you a toy? If so, it’s not just because your dog is looking for you to throw it around the backyard. Instead, your dog is trying to give you a gift. Your dog is trying to show you that it respects you as the leader of its pack and wants you to have something that is very important to him or her. This is a great honor and a good sign that your dog cares.
Yes, some dogs smile. This is a little weird, but it’s true – dogs have facial expressions, and they can learn to pull back their lips and smile, possibly even because they’re trying to mimic you. If your dog tries to give you a smile, he or she is showing some real love.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do dogs feel love when you kiss them?
They can! While not every dog is going to love being kissed, many dogs look at this as a sign of affection. Many dogs focus on touch and interaction as their primary ways of showing humans that they are loved, so dogs can also understand that humans love them back when they display certain behaviors. While you certainly don’t want to kiss a strange dog, your dog probably knows that you’re showing affection when you kiss him or her.
2. Do dogs feel love for their owners?
Yes, dogs absolutely feel love for their owners. This has been shown not just by anecdotal evidence, but by scientific studies that have shown that dogs’ brains actually release oxytocin in the presence of their owners (1). This is the same hormone that’s not only secreted by humans when they are in love, but also by mother dogs when they look at their puppies. Simply put, the love between dogs and humans really is a two-way street.
3. Do dogs really love us?
Yes, dogs really love us. While it’s easy to see that humans love dogs, it should also be relatively easy to see that dogs love their humans in return. If you stop to think about it, dogs exhibit a lot of the same behaviors humans exhibit when they love someone. A dog who loves his or her human wants to spend time with that person, enjoys interactions with that person, and enjoys displays of affection. There’s no need to second-guess a dog’s emotions because what a dog feels is actually remarkably easy to read.
4. Can my dog be in love with me?
Your dog can certainly love you. He or she will not only see you as a provider and protector but also a pack member and even a leader. After all, you are the person who does everything for your dog and in many ways, you can be the center of his or her world. In this case, though, being in love means something more akin to how you might feel towards a friend or a family member. There’s nothing romantic about it, but there is obviously a lot of affection involved in how your dog feels about you.