I Love My Dogs!
But, really, to say that I love my dogs would be an understatement. They bring so much joy to our family with their fun and excitement. They are one of the best things in my life, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to keep them healthy and happy. Showing them how much they mean to me can be a little tricky though and if they don’t respond the way you expect, you may wonder how to get your dogs to like you.
Even though I know that most dogs aren’t the biggest fans of big hugs, I am lucky because my dogs do love to cuddle. After all, hugging is one of the most natural ways for humans to show affection. However, for many of our canine companions, a hug is unwelcome or even threatening, especially if they feel trapped.
Some dog parents make the mistake of thinking that the best way to their dog’s heart is through his stomach. Don’t get me wrong — treats and goodies do have their place (especially as rewards when training), but too many of them can easily lead to weight gain and all of the health issues that come with it.
While treats should be limited and hugs should often be avoided, there are still lots of ways that you can shower your dog with endless love in a language he’s sure to understand.
The short answer is “probably.” But only if you know how to speak your dog’s love language. As mentioned, things like hugs, kisses, and treats don’t necessarily translate to love in a dog’s native language.
Dogs are pack animals, and they rely on their pack’s queues for signs of approval and love. They do this primarily through body language and physical touch, and group activities like hunting and exercising.
There are ways you can translate your love for your dog in ways he’ll understand.
5 Ways to Tell Your Dog You Love Him
1. Rub His Ears
Instead of patting your pup on the top of the head, try giving him a gentle rub behind the ears. Watch his reaction — he will most likely melt into a ball of doggy happiness. This is because rubbing a dog’s ears actually stimulates the release of endorphins — hormones that relieve pain and bring on feelings of pleasure.
2. Lean On Him
Has your dog ever pressed up against your legs or leaned into you while you were sitting together? This is one way that dogs seek affection, kind of like a doggie hug. You can “hug” him back by doing the same thing.
3. Gaze Softy Into His Eyes
One way to show your pup you love him is through eye contact. Take a quiet moment, speak softly to him and pet him gently, and just stare into his eyes. Try raising your eyebrows (especially the left one). Your dog will view this as a display of affection.
In fact, this action will naturally increase your dog’s level of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that aids in bonding.
A word of caution: you should only maintain direct eye contact with a dog who knows and trusts you. A dog who is not familiar with you is more likely to interpret this gesture as a threat or a challenge.
4. Have Fun Together
Spend some time every day doing something that your dog enjoys. Try teaching him a new trick or practicing ones he already knows. Take him out in the back yard or down to the dog park for a game of frisbee or fetch with his favorite toy. (Click here to see my favorite dog bonding toy.)Not only will your dog feel loved, but the exercise will help to keep him (and you) healthy.
Dogs may not enjoy being hugged, but they love cuddling. Dogs are pack animals, and close contact makes them feel safe and secure. Allowing your pooch to sleep with you is the ultimate display of trust and affection since this is when you are the most vulnerable. However, even if you’d prefer to keep your bed dog-free, you can still create opportunities every day to tell your dog you love him by snuggling up on the couch or in a cozy corner with him on the floor. He’ll be sure to get your message.
One of the best things about dogs is how well they know their favorite people. They can tell when we’re stressed out and when we’re calm and happy. And we can be sure that our voices, our body language, and our actions communicate to them how much they mean to us.
The bond between humans and dogs has huge benefits for people and animals.
Not sure if you’re getting the message of love across? Your dog’s body language will tell you. Look for all of the dog body languages of love:
- a wagging tail
- eye contact
- a raised eyebrow (see more below)
Conversely, keep an eye out for the warning signs of an anxious dog:
- a tucked tail
- lip licking
- your dog’s eyes are popping out or averted
Dare I Say Again, I Love My Dogs!
Your dog’s eyes do much of their talking. You can communicate back to them using the same language of eye contact.
When a dog gives you long, lingering eye contact, it’s a way of saying “I love you.” Again with the oxytocin release that is caused by this.
Watch your approach, though. Staring down a dog in a forceful manner can be a sign of aggression for your dog.
I have often said eye contact is one of the biggest signs of the connection between you and the dog. It is one of the first things you should start to train them from the start. You can learn more about that here. Or check out what the professional trainer has to say about it by clicking the banner below.
Facial Expressions Of Love
No matter how we may wish to hide our feelings, even from our dogs, most pet owners know that animals are sensitive to our emotional states. Scientific studies have shown that dogs can read human emotions through their facial expressions.
You can be intentional about what your face is telling your dog. Behavioral scientists have shown that when a dog feels connected to someone, they often raise their eyebrows—the left one more than the right. So greeting your dog with raised eyebrows and a relaxed smile tells your dog how happy you are to see them.
The Lean Of Love
Did you know that a dog will lean against you as a sign of love and trust? Unless the lean seems to be an anxious behavior or a not-so-subtle push toward the door, this body posture from your dog can be mimicked or reciprocated to show affection.
So go ahead, lean in to show a little love. My dogs are slightly larger than medium size, sometimes they catch you off guard but this is their way of showing affection and I love it!
Dogs thrive on routine and schedule, so a daily walk with training mixed in will help your dog understand how much you love and care for them.
Walks and adventures give plenty of opportunities to work on skills like loose leash walking and recall. These shared experiences and training sessions build trust, communication, and that pack connection.
Human Signals Of Affection That May Not Translate To Dogs
Dog owners also benefit from learning which human signs showing affection make no sense to your dog.
- Hugging: some dogs feel trapped or pinned down when you hug them. Watch your dog’s reaction.
- Kissing: a quick peck on the head is remarkably similar to a playful nip on the neck or a gesture of domination. Your dog may think you’re trying to play or assert your place in the household hierarchy.
- Treats: as much as food can be a sign of affection for humans, treats are best used for motivating behavior and dog training. Think of how quickly your dog’s loyalty disappears the minute someone else offers them treats.
Your Canine Languages Of Love
Learning to say, “I love you” to your dog is a simple matter of getting to know both your dog’s individual body language as well as those comforts of pack life that your dog’s animal brain still craves. As a bonus, all of these love languages seem to benefit your sense of well-being, too.
Having all that said, Love your pups and make it a better place for all the coolest dogs on the planet!
I thank you and your dogs thank you!