Since no one has invented a means to communicate with your dog directly, you have to rely on other clues and signs to understand how your dog is feeling. Thankfully, canine behaviorists have devoted a great deal of time and effort to analyzing the behavior of dogs in order to better understand their physical language.
Much like humans, dogs also use body language to communicate. By understanding that language, you can determine just what a dog feels about you. One of those feelings is love. If you’re wondering how your dog expresses its love for you, then here are a few different ways.
1. Wagging Tail
Perhaps one of the most obvious methods that a dog uses to express its love is through wagging its tail. whether you talk to the dog, play with them, pet them, or give them any form of attention, you’ve likely noticed that their tail goes crazy.
So, if you see your dog approaching you with a wagging tail, then he’s indicating how happy he is to see you.
Dogs with a lowered tail or even a tucked tail, on the other hand, are expressing fear, sadness, or submission.
2. Open Mouths
Another form of expression that a dog uses to express love and happiness is through opening their mouths. This is a relaxed gesture for canines. They may also be panting or sticking their tongue out.
Many consider this expression to be a dog’s version of smiling. The loosened facial expression shows that they are relaxed and happy to be in your presence. It often accompanies a wagging tail.
If a dog has a tightened expression, for example, bared teeth or a clenched jaw, then they’re expressing aggression. Sometimes the bared teeth may be playful in nature. They may be putting on a show while playing with you.
Other times, it could be a true warning. To tell the difference between the two, you need to examine the rest of the dog’s behavior. Does he seem relaxed despite baring his teeth? You also need to consider the environment. Is he guarding something that he thinks you’re going to take away or does he consider you a threat?
However, if your dog approaches you with an open mouth, tongue hanging out of it, then he’s grinning at you.
3. Cuddle Time
Bigger dogs are notorious for thinking they’re lapdogs. Regardless of a dog’s size, if they love you, then you can be sure they’re going to try and cuddle with you. While not all breeds are the cuddly type, you’ll likely find that each one will want to cuddle in some form at some point.
It may be as simple as resting their head on your knee. They may even bat their paw at your hand to get you to rest it on their head. Or, in the case of oversized dogs, they love nothing more than to drape their entire body weight over your lap.
4. Desire to Play
If you’re the one that the dog constantly seeks out to throw its ball during playtime, then it’s indicative of the dog’s love for you. Since dogs receive a lot of physical and mental stimulation during play, the person they play with during that time is associated with the good feelings that the dog feels as it plays.
Because they enjoy the activity, they want to do it with someone they love. This is also because they believe that you’re having just as much fun as they are. A desire to spend time with you and play with you is a sign that your dog loves you.
Since dogs all stem from the wolf, they possess a protective streak in them. Like wolves, their human family is considered their pack. While they may incorrectly believe themselves the alpha, this can also come in handy at times.
Dogs who love their owners are fiercely protective over them. If they believe that their owner is in danger, then they’ll do what they must to keep them safe. There have been several instances in which a dog has saved a baby’s life or saved its owner’s life.
Society even trains dogs as caregivers for those with diabetes or anxiety or have epilepsy or strokes. While these dogs are trained to deal with medical episodes, they also do so out of love. They see their owners as someone to protect because they don’t want to be without them.
6. Greeting You
Have you ever walked into your home and nearly been barreled down by a dog running at you with lightning speed? Perhaps this is a daily routine. If so, then it’s a good sign that your dog loves you.
Dogs have essentially been bred to rely on their owners. When the owner leaves to work, every dog experiences some form of separation anxiety. They don’t understand where you have gone. Even those who should be used to your routine won’t understand where it is that you go almost every day and wonder if you’ll return.
When you do return, they’re extremely excited to see that you’re back and safe. They express that joy by jumping on you, rubbing against you, perhaps even whining or barking in their excitement.
They express their love by being exuberantly excited each time you come home. There’s nothing quite like being greeted by a dog when you come home from work.
7. Eye Contact
One interesting facet of dog behavior is the role of eye contact. In humans, we often express affection and love by maintaining eye contact with our loved ones. In dogs, however, prolonged eye contact can sometimes be threatening. Dogs often use eye contact as a way to express dominance.
Yet when eye contact is used between a dog and its owner, something different happens. If a dog trusts you, it will maintain eye contact for some time. While it may look away at some point to express its submission to you, the fact that it allows you to stare into its eyes for a long period of time is telling.
Another way that dogs express their love is through licking. Perhaps you may coil at the idea of being licked by your dog, but they’re doing so because they care about you. As puppies, dogs are licked by their mothers to clean and groom them. It keeps them healthy and makes them feel secure.
It’s something they remember as they grow older. If a dog licks you, then it’s expressing its care for you. It’s trying to help keep you clean and secure. It also indicates that the dog perceives you as the pack leader.
Sometimes dogs also lick to gain your attention. They might want to play, be fed, go outside, or simply desire your attention.
9. Bringing You Their Toy
Dogs can be very possessive over their toys. When a dog brings you one of their toys, it doesn’t always mean that they want to play with you. In fact, they may just be doing so because they’re offering you their most prized possession as a token of their love.
It can also mean that the dog recognizes you as the pack leader and wants you to enjoy his toy as much as he does.
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One last way that dogs express love is through nudging. They might brush their nose against you to say hello or to gain your attention for some petting.
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret