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How Does Our Dogs Show Affection?

It is easy for us humans, to show affection to our dogs through our actions. A belly rub, treat or snuggle session says “I love you” in a language that both people and their dogs can understand. Dogs express their emotions using their body language in a variety of ways. It’s not always easy to tell how they are feeling based on their behaviours, but here are some ways your dog may show you love.

Eye Contact
For many dogs, eye contact is a display of trust and affection. Research has shown that when we gaze lovingly into our dog’s eyes, they understand and are likely to return the affection. Dogs and humans both release oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) when they look into each other’s eyes. So if you find your dog staring at you with soft, puppy dog eyes, more often than not, they are telling you that they love you.

Excited Greetings
Greetings that involve jumping, licking, tail wagging, or even some happy grunts or a potty accident are your dog’s way of showing you that they love you and are thrilled to see you. A relaxed, side-to-side wag generally means your dog is happy or content. Rapid, full-body wags are usually associated with excitement or anticipation, often seen when you come home from work. When your dog licks you, it’s often their way of showing love and affection, a behaviour they learn as puppies from their mothers, who lick them to clean them and express care.

Physical Contact
Pets, cuddles, leans and gentle hugs are strong signals that you and your dog are truly bonded.
When your dog comes up to you and leans their full weight against you, they are showing you that they trust and love you. This close physical contact also helps them feel secure and connected with you. Kissing is a universal sign of affection, even among dogs! These kisses release endorphins that make your dog feel relaxed, calm, and happy. Nothing says “I like you” like a dog rolling onto their back and asking for belly rubs. Rolling over puts your dog in a vulnerable position and shows a high degree of trust and relaxation.

Dogs sometimes bring their owners gifts as a sign of affection. These gifts can range from their favourite toy to something they found outside. This is a sweet gesture whereby your dog is sharing something that they value with you, which is a clear sign of love and trust.

Carry Around Your Stuff
Dogs who are emotionally attached to their owners love their owners’ scents and anything that has their smell on it. If your dog constantly digs through the items that smell like you, it may be because they just love you and want to be reminded of you wherever you go.

Sleep With You
It is a natural instinct for dogs to sleep together with their pack, as they did when they were newborn puppies with their littermates. Your dog wanting to sleep next to you is a sign of affection and closeness. They enjoy your company and want to show their loyalty, trust and willingness to protect you, or let you protect them. They also feel safe and comfortable with you, which is the highest form of trust in the dog world.

There are many ways in which dogs like to receive affection. Dogs are physical animals and they generally enjoy being petted and cuddled. Stroking their fur, scratching their favourite spots, and gentle massages are great ways to show them affection. You could also spend quality time with your dog through playtime, walks, or simply sitting in a room. The more time spent with your dog, the stronger your bond becomes!

Most dogs love food, and giving them a treat occasionally can be a way of showing affection. Do note that this should be done in moderation as too many treats can lead to obesity. That said, you could also exercise regularly with your dog. Not only is it crucial for a dog’s physical health, it also plays a role in their emotional well-being. Dogs often view shared activities such as walks or playtime as a form of affection.

No matter how you choose to give affection to your dog, it’s important to understand your dog’s body language to ensure they are comfortable with it. Remember, a strong bond with your dog doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience, understanding, and consistency.

Dogs show affection to humans in many ways and these expressions of emotions can range from super subtle to totally obvious, so it can be tough to tell what’s a positive expression or a negative expression. Paying attention to the signs your dog loves you can help you recognise the deep bond the two of you have. Every dog is different, so getting to know your own dog’s specific ways of showing love is part of the joy of dog ownership.



Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.



Adopted from sources

– How Do Dog Show Affection? By Dr Maria Baker, Pet-How.

– How do dogs show affection? 6 ways your dog says ‘I love you’. By ElleVet.

– Images of dogs, Pexels.