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How Dogs Show Us Love – 15 Different Ways

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

male owner hugging his dog

Dogs have been bred to be companion animals, and they’ve proven time and time again that they’ve earned the title of man’s best friend for many reasons. Dogs are capable of forming strong bonds with their human companions and are able to express and feel affection toward them.

Like humans, dogs have their own personalities and ways of showing love, and we’ve listed several common things that dogs do to communicate love to their humans. Let’s see how many ways your dog is letting you know that it loves you.

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The 15 Ways Dogs Show Us Love

1. Excited to See You

pug dog with the owner
Image Credit: Piqsels

One of the most obvious ways dogs show love is through their excitement when they see you. Dogs can express excitement by wagging their tails, wanting to jump on you, and licking your face. Over time, they may even learn to guess what time you usually come home, and you can often find them waiting by the door for you to arrive.

Coming home to an excited dog can make even the roughest days feel better. Your dog will also feel better and happy to know that you’ve come home and that it can spend more time with you.

2. Following You Around

Many dogs prefer being in the same room as their owners. They’re often very watchful of their owners and aware whenever they leave the room. Not all dogs will feel the need to follow you around, especially if they have more independent and aloof personalities. They may feel comfort simply by knowing that you’re at home, and they may not always follow you around from room to room.

However, some dogs can act like your shadow and be very close to your heels. These dogs also often have no sense of privacy and may even follow you into the bathroom.

3. Sleeping Near You

pet owner sleeping with dog on her bed
Image Credit: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

Dogs are pack animals and social creatures that are capable of working together to protect each other. A dog’s protective nature can often be seen when your dog starts wanting to sleep near you or on your bed with you. Your dog may be doing this as a sign of wanting to protect you as well as trusting that you will protect it in return. You can definitely feel flattered by this sign of love because it’s also indicating that your dog trusts and values you.

4. Wanting to Play With You

If your dog loves you, it will want to spend a lot of time around you. Playful dogs can designate you as their favorite playmate. Your dog may approach you with its favorite toy so that you can engage in a fun round of fetch or tug.

Dogs are certainly capable of feeling bored and disinterested, so it’s a great sign if your dog constantly wants to play with you. You can return the love by engaging your dog in play and bringing home new toys every once in a while to keep playtime fun and decrease boredom.

5. Making Eye Contact

Jack russell dog ready for a walk with owner or hungry ,begging on lap
Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

Dogs use eye contact in various ways to communicate. Eye contact is one way that your dog may be showing you love, especially if it’s with soft eye contact. Humans often gaze into other people’s eyes to show affection, and dogs can do the same.

Maintaining and establishing a habit of healthy eye contact can also build trust, which is extra helpful during obedience training. So, it never hurts to just show your dog some eye contact throughout random parts of the day, and also meet your dog’s gaze whenever it happens to look at you.

6. Asking for Belly Rubs

One of the most vulnerable areas for dogs is their bellies because their vital organs are located in that area. Therefore, dogs are protective of their abdomens and aren’t willing to have them exposed. So, when a dog flops over onto its back and asks for belly rubs, it’s a sign of a high level of love and trust.

Because dogs feel extremely vulnerable when their bellies are exposed, it’s important to never force your dog on its back. Belly rubs are hard-earned, and dogs should be free to ask for them whenever they feel comfortable.

7. Sensing Your Emotions

white shih tzu dog licking owner on the nose
Image Credit: Zelma Brezinska, Shutterstock

The success of dogs becoming companion animals is also due to their awareness of human emotions. Dogs are very observant and sensitive to how their humans are doing and are able to distinguish when people are feeling both positive and negative emotions. Many dogs are known to recognize when their owners are feeling sad, and they may try to comfort them.

Dogs can also feel and observe their owner’s stress, and their behavior can reflect what their owners are feeling. In many ways, dogs act like emotional mirrors. So, if you notice that your dog is expressing a certain emotion, particularly stress or anxiety, try checking in with yourself to see if these are emotions that you’re also feeling. Dogs are able to mirror their owners’ emotions because they have formed a strong bond with them.

8. Bringing You Gifts

While dogs aren’t likely to be enthusiastic about sharing their food with you, they may bring you gifts to show you love. They often do this by presenting you with their favorite toys, which are treasured items to them. Bringing you gifts is a sign that your dog wants to share important things with you. So, while you may not be thrilled to have random sticks and twigs or slobbery dog toys placed at your feet, it’s a sign of love. It’s also important to reciprocate and show your dog that you appreciate its gifts.

9. Seeking Physical Contact

black shih tzu dog licking owner's ears while having fun outdoors
Image Credit: brickrena, Shutterstock

Many dogs will also show love by seeking physical contact. Not all dogs are cuddlers, so if your dog doesn’t want to cuddle with you or doesn’t particularly enjoy hugs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she doesn’t love you. Your dog may prefer belly rubs, pets, and scratches instead. Dogs particularly enjoy ear and chin scratches and receiving head massages.

10. Licking Your Face

Dogs can lick for a variety of reasons. Licking is often a behavior that puppies engage in when they want to get their mother’s attention and communicate that they’re hungry. Some dogs will grow out of the habit of licking, but others may continue to lick for attention as adults.

Dogs also lick as a means of self-grooming. They can groom other dogs if they’re in their pack. So, your dog may be licking you as a means of trying to groom you and acknowledging that you’re a pack member.

11. Showing Loyalty or Favoritism

pet owner petted the dog.
Image Credit: Markus Trier, Pixabay

A dog’s loyalty is most clear when the dog has a more independent and aloof personality. However, even extremely social and friendly dogs will have their favorites and often form stronger bonds with just one or two people.

Your dog can show loyalty by being protective of you, wanting to spend time with you, and showing you preferential treatment. It may prefer being by your side more than others and may demand more attention from you as well.

12. Smiling at You

Similar to how dogs can mirror your emotions, they can also learn to mimic some of your facial expressions. Your dog is capable of showing a variety of facial expressions that convey happiness, disgust, contentment, and distress. So, it’s very possible that your dog is smiling at you because it feels happy to see you.

13. Leaning or Sitting on You

owner holding corgi dog while studying
Image Credit: Rabizo Anatolii, Shutterstock

Some dogs may develop the habit of leaning or sitting on you to get your attention. It often comes in some of the most inconvenient times when you’re busy working and your attention isn’t fully on them. It can become an issue if you have a particularly large dog. So, you can discourage this behavior to a certain extent by getting up and moving away when your dog tries to sit on you. However, it’s important to remember that it’s a sign of seeking attention. So, make sure that you’re showing your dog enough attention and affection in other ways.

14. Learning Your Name

Dogs are highly intelligent animals that are capable of learning several different names. So, it’s very possible for your dog to learn your own name if you consistently say it in its presence. You know that your dog loves you when it shows signs of happiness or excitement when it hears your name. Hearing your name may cause its ears to perk up and grab its attention. You may also see your dog wagging its tail in excitement.

15. Finding Comfort in Your Scent

australian shepherd dog getting closer to its owner
Image Credit: Izemphoto, Shutterstock

Dogs navigate the world through their noses. While human beings have about 6 million olfactory receptors in their noses, dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors. The portion of the brain that interprets scents is 40 times larger than that of humans. So, they can quickly pick up on your unique smell. Dogs that have formed bonds with their humans often find comfort in their humans’ scents. You may find that your dog enjoys stealing your clothes or rolling around and napping on them.

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Dogs show and communicate love and affection in varying ways, and your dog doesn’t have to do all of the things we’ve mentioned above. As you spend time with your dog, you’ll be able to notice how it expresses its love for you. By becoming familiar with general dog behavior and your dog’s unique personality, you’ll be able to see how it loves you.

Make sure to acknowledge your dog’s expressions of love and reciprocate in ways that it understands and enjoys. Doing this will only strengthen your bond and help you to value each other’s companionship even more.

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Featured Image Credit: Lizardflms, Shutterstock

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