10 Ways Dogs Show Love
Everyone knows–even those hostile cat owners–that dogs are man's (and woman's!) best friends. They make fiercely loyal, extremely intelligent and–duh!–adorable companions and most puppy parents consider their pooch a member of the family.
But do our dogs love us back? The short answer: Yes. Dogs express their emotions in a variety of ways—ranging from super subtle to totally obvious—so, sometimes, it can be tough to tell what's a positive expression or a negative expression.
The bottom line? Our dogs love us unconditionally—they just sometimes express it in weirder ways. These 10 signs of puppy love can help you determine if you and your pupper are truly bonded.
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or threatened, would you stare deeply into their eyes? No way! Long, sustained eye contact is reserved for people you love, trust, and feel safe with.
The same goes for dogs. Maintaining eye contact isn't just a useful tool while you're training your dog–it can help you create a deep bond, too. In fact, when your dog looks at you, its brain releases oxytocin. Known as the "love hormone," oxytocin is the same hormone mothers' brains release when they're first bonding with their babies.
The key is to maintain natural eye contact while you're playing or cuddling. If you force eye contact with your dog, it'll probably get a little uncomfortable and look away.
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Like maintaining eye contact, you're probably not going to lean up against someone you don't know or trust–and neither will your dog.
Whether you're sitting on the floor or couch, if your dog leans against you, it means it feels safe, secure, and totally comfortable. Sometimes dogs will lean against their humans when they're feeling scared or anxious, but that only means it sees you as its protector.
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If you don't allow your dog to sleep in your bed, but it still likes to sleep in your bedroom, it really loves you. Why? Wanting to be close to you while you're sleeping signals that it's totally loyal and doesn't want to be separated from the pack.
(And if you're not going to allow it in the bed, why not invest in a super comfy dog bed?)
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Does your dog jump up and down, lick your hands and face, bring you its favorite toy or even "excited pee" a little bit when you get home from work, school, or errands? Yep, it's absolutely thrilled to see you! And, chances are, you're very excited to see your pup, too.
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Pooches who are attached to their owners also love their owners' scents—and may raid your shoe pile or laundry basket for stinky socks, T-shirts, or even underwear.
Stealing shoes and dirty clothes aren't always the best thing—especially if your dog likes to chew—but you can prevent inappropriate chewing by giving your dog plenty of engaging toys or marrow-filled dog bones.
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More independent dogs may not always be right at your side or curled around your feet, but that doesn't mean it doesn't love you. If your dog "checks in" on you from another room, during a walk, or in a new environment, it's making sure you're nearby.
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You've probably read that dogs hate being hugged; one study actually claimed to prove it. But in reality, this "study" was based on observations by a single researcher and was not found in any hard science.
The truth? Dogs actually love physical affection and often seek it out from their favorite people.
We're not saying you should pick up your dog and give it a super tight bear hug. Rather, pets, cuddles, leans, and maybe even gentle hugs are strong signals that you and your dog are truly bonded.
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No, it's not a sign that its potty training is regressing. Dogs, especially puppies, may pee a little bit when they get excited. Referred to as submissive urination, this little accident is actually a compliment. It means your dog knows you're in charge!
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If your dog brings you its favorite toy, it doesn't just mean it wants to play—although wanting to play is a major sign of puppy love, too. As your pup's pack leader, it's presenting its most prized, most beloved possession to you. Talk about an honor, huh?
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Nope, it's not your imagination! Some dogs actually learn how to "smile" by pulling their lips back to reveal a big, wide, toothy grin. Reciprocating with a big smile and happy voice will show your dog you love it, too.