Dog owners want only one thing – for their pets to be happy and healthy… oh, and that they know how much we love them.
I’ll admit it… even I have asked myself this question a couple of times, “Does my dog know how much I love him?” Since dogs do not speak our human language, it is actually pretty inevitable that many owners wonder whether dogs even know how much we love them.
There has been a good deal of research done on this topic, and we can say with a lot of certainty that we actually know the answer to this all-time question. So, let’s get to the point:
Do Dogs Know You Love Them?
Yes, dogs are quite good at understanding human psychology, and they have mastered the art of “reading us”, which makes us think that they also know exactly how much we love them.
According to Brian Hare, Ph.D, and professor of cognitive neuroscience at Duke University, who has dedicated his life to researching canine cognition, dogs specifically have the ability to enter into our mental world. What does this mean?
In the third episode of “The Canine Cognition Podcast”, Dr. Hare and his guests reveal that dogs are able to form a special relationship with their owner. This relationship is similar to the one that parents have with their babies, all because of something that is called oxytocin (the love hormone).
Dogs have found a way into our heart by causing an oxytocin release that triggers all these love emotions in both humans and dogs. This hormone is usually triggered by certain behaviors, such as eye contact.
In the article, “Here’s How Your Dog Really Feels About You, According To Science”, by Kate Moriarty, it was revealed that dogs indeed “feel the warm-and-fuzzies for their humans – even more so than for their animal friends.”
This again only confirms that dogs are truly capable of forming a strong bond with humans, and thus, are able to learn to understand our social cues, which include our expressions of love as well.
12 Ways To Say “I Love You” In Dog Language
Are there some things that I can do to show my dog that I love him, so he understands?
1. Favorite Food
You know how they say, “love goes through the stomach”, right? Well, this is actually true.
Whenever I hear this saying, my mind immediately goes to that scene from the Lady and the Tramp when they share a plate of spaghetti and end up “accidentally” kissing. Such an iconic scene!
It’s no secret that dogs love their food, so if you really want to show your dog that you love him and care about him, try to make an effort and prepare his favorite food – preferably, something that he doesn’t get all the time… perhaps a home-cooked meal.
2. Dog Voice
Whaaat? I don’t have a dog voice. Let me stop you right there. We all have that slightly high-pitched voice (baby talk) when talking with our pets, so there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Actually, a recent study shows that the use of dog-directed speech improves the dog’s attention, and helps strengthen the bond between the dog and his owner, so there you go… continue with your speech.
3. Loving Gaze
I have already briefly mentioned eye contact when talking about oxytocin, so let’s elaborate a bit. It has been proven that dogs communicate a lot with their eyes, so a long, loving gaze is often one of the best ways to actually show your affection.
During this exchange, the oxytocin levels spike up in both humans and dogs, so both parties actually know that they love each other. Dr. Hare refers to loving gazes as if “the dog is hugging you with its eyes”.
4. Facial Expressions
Studies have shown that dogs do pay attention to human faces, and are able to read the emotions from our facial expressions. Letting your emotions shine through is actually a very simple way of showing your dog that you love him.
Another way is by raising your eyebrows. According to some scientists, when a dog raises his eyebrows and sticks his tongue out, he is relaxed and happy, and in some way, he expects the same kind of behavior from you.
5. The Loving Lean
Leaning against someone is often seen as the ultimate sign of trust. The same goes for canines. The dog will lean against you only when it completely trusts you and is trying to show you that. A good way of showing your dog that you love him is by reciprocating this kind of behavior.
Watch this adorable Golden Retriever Nala trust-falling onto her owner that has captured the hearts of TikTokers and everyone online. Those tail wags are everything!
6. The Loving Touch
Dogs love attention and human touch, so simple petting, belly or ear rubbing, grooming sessions, and a soothing massage can say a lot to your dog.
During these interactions, there is a release of the hormone, oxytocin, which strengthens the bond between you and your dog, and shows your dog exactly how much you care about him.
Dogs are pack animals, and they simply crave affection and the sense of belonging to a family or a pack. Most dogs are cuddly creatures that love to jump on your lap and provide you with soft and furry companionship.
Humans also like a dog’s friendliness and the desire for affection, so in most cases, this is a win-win situation. Try to make time in your day for those cuddly sessions that provide everyone with such happiness.
Barking is not the only way dogs communicate. Actually, if you want to know what is going on with your pooch, you just have to pay attention to his body language. Being a “good listener” is a great way to win your dog’s love.
A dog’s eyes, and its body and tail position never lie, so make sure that you learn all the clues that your pup is sending you.
Respect is very important for a healthy owner-dog relationship. Many dog owners forget that a dog is still a dog, and it has its own boundaries. You shouldn’t discourage your dog from certain inherited behaviors, such as sniffing, because this is what they do, and it is a part of their nature.
Preventing your dog from expressing his true self can actually cause feelings of anxiety and confusion, which, in the end, will not show your pooch that you love him.
10. Quality Time
A loving relationship is nothing without good quality time spent together. Dogs crave human attention and need some dedicated quality time. They love their schedule and thrive on routine.
You are everything to your dog, and when you neglect him, he only becomes more and more sad. We all have our jobs and obligations, but as a responsible dog owner, you need to take some time now and then to show your pooch that he matters and that he is deeply loved.
11. Vacation Time
Unfortunately, a lot of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, especially if they don’t have another furry friend to play with when you are gone.
When left alone for long periods of time, your dog might become stressed, anxious, or even depressed, which is quite the opposite of being loved and happy. If it is possible, try to take your dog with you everywhere you can, such as on vacations or little trips.
12. Be Yourself
I have mentioned quite a few times throughout this article that dogs are actually very good at reading our expressions and emotions. They pick up very quickly on our little cues, and are able to respond accordingly, which brings me to my last point.
Just be yourself. Your dog loves you just the way you are, as cliché as it sounds. A change in your behavior and personality will also affect your pooch and his behavior, so if you truly want to show him that you love him, just be happy and welcoming when you see him next time.
Does your dog know how much you love him – a hundred times, yes!
We need to give our pups a lot of credit. They have managed to achieve what no other species has – a way to steal our heart in their own special way.
If we think about the oxytocin relationship that I have mentioned, it is said to be reserved only for human-human relationships and human-dog relationships, which is incredible. In my opinion, this is just further proof that dogs are truly our best friends.
If you’re reading this, go look for your beloved furry friend and show him some love that he truly deserves for being the goodest boy in the world.