Asking you if you love your dog is a no-brainer. Of course you do! But does your dog love you too? How can you tell if your dog loves you the way that you do? Could he/she simply be following you around because you’re the provider of delicious treats?
Before you start wondering if your affection is one-sided, here’s some good news — your dog probably does genuinely love you, and here are some tell-tail signs:
1. Holding eye contact
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In a dog’s world, eye contact is seen as aggressive and only used when a dog wants to challenge another dog. However, in loving relationships with humans, eye contact is a sign of love reserved only for those they trust.
If your doggo often looks you directly in the eye with a relaxed face and body posture, congratulations! Your pooch feels 100% comfortable and safe in your presence, and that’s something only possible with someone you love.
2. A happy tail wag
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Tail wagging is an instinctive behaviour developed during the puppy stages as a way for puppies to convey their emotions to their pack. While there are many types of tail wags, a tail that is in a neutral or slightly raised position and wagging freely is one of the most obvious, genuine signs of a happy dog.
So the next time you see your dog wagging its tail at you (it could also be wiggling its hips) even though you’re not holding any treats in hand, know that your dog is simply happy to see you.
3. Yawning with you
Just like how we’re likely to yawn when we see someone we love yawns, studies have shown that dogs yawn contagiously when they witness the person that they are bonded to yawn as well.
Now, we know that dogs typically yawn as a way to relieve stress, but the studies have also shown that the heart rates of the dogs that did yawn contagiously did not speed up, which means that they experienced no increase in stress levels.
Go ahead, give it a try! Give a big yawn in front of your dog and observe if he/she yawns back!
4. Lifting their eyebrows
Not many are aware of this, but dogs lift their eyebrows (especially the left one) whenever they see their owners! A phenomenon tested in a study from Japan, the researchers made sure to observe and compare dogs’ facial response to both positive social stimuli (i.e. the owner) and positive non-social stimuli (i.e. their favourite toy). The result? The dogs moved their left eyebrow more when the owner was present, reflecting the dogs’ attachment to their hoomans.
5. Sleeping near you
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Dogs are pack animals at heart, and sometimes, they may wish to sleep huddled with the rest of their pack for comfort and security. If your pooch often comes to you for snuggles, it means that it considers you family and feels protected and relaxed by your side!
Furthermore, your dog could technically sleep anywhere in the house, yet it chose to be with you — that’s a huge display of attachment and affection right there.
6. Leaning against you
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Nobody will lean against someone they don’t know or trust — likewise, dogs only lean against those that make them feel safe and secure. If your dog often drapes itself over you or uses you as a support, don’t mistake this behaviour as being lazy! It is simply indirectly letting you know that you’re its pillar of support, both literally and figuratively.
7. Checking up on you
Similar to how we humans have different personalities, dogs have unique characters of their own. There may be dogs who are more independent and less “touchy-feely” than others, but if they love you, they will constantly check up on you in their own way.
This means that even if your dog is not the type to snuggle close every night or stare at you 24/7, it might occasionally drop by to peer at you from another room, run off to chase an interesting toy but return to you as soon as it loses interest, or stop and wait for you after jogging ahead on walks. So long as your dog is always ensuring that you’re close by, you have a strong bond.
8. Bringing you its favourite toy
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This is a no-brainer as well. If a dog presents to you its most prized possession, it’s safe to say that besides wanting to play with you, which is also a sign of affection and closeness, it’s simply trying to please you and share with you the joy that it had received from that very same toy! How sweet is that?
Affection according to breed
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Don’t be disheartened if your dog doesn’t show all the above-mentioned signs of affection — according to Dr. Angela Hughes, a veterinary genetics research manager at Wisdom Panel, the creator of the world’s leading dog DNA test, each breed has unique behavioural traits that result in them showing their affection slightly differently!
Some prefer to sit attentively by your side, some love to show their affection through play, while others enjoy a good cuddle. Just keep in mind your dog’s natural disposition and personality, and you’ll know it if you have a dog who loves you wholeheartedly by your side.