A dog’s love for their family is so much more than an old cliche. If you know what to look for, you’ll see your dog saying “I love you” every day. Don’t believe us? Look for these signs of affection that your dog uses to show you love.
Signs Your Dog Loves You
Dogs show their love for their families in many ways, some of which are automatically familiar—like cuddling—and some of which you might not understand right away. Learning to recognize these signs of doggy love in your pet will help you better communicate with them and build an even stronger bond. Look for these behaviors from your dog that show you love:
- Cuddling and leaning
- Sleeping in your bed or in your bedroom
- Staying close to your scent
- Following you around or checking in on you
- Eye contact
- Raised eyebrows
- Tilting head
- Excited greetings and sharing toys
How Your Dog Says ‘I Love You’
Since dogs can’t communicate in words with their families, they use their bodies and behaviors to signal how they’re feeling. Tail wagging is the classic example of dogs expressing their mood. Licking is another common affectionate behavior.
Does your dog love to lick your face while you’re playing with her or petting her? It’s one of the most loving behaviors a dog exhibits because it’s related to their habit of grooming members of their own canine family. So next time you’re being bathed in kisses, it’s not just your dog telling you that you might need a shower—she’s showing how much she loves you, too!
Don’t underestimate cuddling: it’s another strong physical sign that your dog trusts you. Leaning against you, laying on you and especially rolling over for a belly rub show that she feels safe being in a vulnerable position around you.
You might also notice her carrying around pieces of your laundry or sleeping on clothes you’ve left on the floor. She wants to feel close to you, even while she’s not next to you. If you see your dog doing this, leave a shirt or jacket next to her when you’re out of the house to help her feel safe.
Sleeping in your bed (or napping on your lap on the couch, for another example) is one of the ultimate signs of love and trust. It’s when a dog is most vulnerable, so even sleeping in her own bed in the same room shows that she wants to be near you as much as possible.
She might follow you around the house, trailing at your heels while you’re getting ready for work or cooking dinner. Even if she’s a more independent dog, she might still pop into the room to check on you if you’ve been out of sight for a while. This is equally affectionate behavior and deserves lots of petting and verbal praise.Eye contact is a strong indicator of doggy love. If your dog maintains eye contact while you’re talking to her or playing, she’s telling you she loves you.
Eye contact releases a chemical called oxytocin—a.k.a. the “love hormone”—in a dog’s brain that triggers feelings of attachment and comfort. Extended eye contact shows that your dog recognizes you and feels a strong bond. While not all dogs hold eye contact easily, you can help them learn this behavior as part of puppy training.
Other examples of body language that show affection include those adorable raised eyebrows and tilting heads. When dogs see their parents, they raise their eyebrows (especially the left one) as a signal of recognition and love. They do the same thing for their human parents!
And when your dog tilts her head, it’s her way of showing empathy—connecting with your emotions and trying to feel them along with you. It’s also irresistibly cute! Yawning after they’ve seen you do it is another sign of canine empathy.
Finally, a happy greeting when you’ve come home after some time away from the house—whether it’s a day at work or fifteen minutes at the store—is a clear sign that your dog loves you. And if she brings you her favorite toy, she’s showing you that she’s willing to share it with someone she trusts.
Dogs have many ways to show how much they love their human families! Paying attention to your pet’s body language will help you understand what makes her a happy dog. Return her affection with lots of playing, verbal praise and cuddling and you’ll have the most loving bond with your best friend!
- Boriotti, Lauren. “4 Surprising Ways Your Dog Says ‘I Love You’ (Including Yawning).” The Dog People, Rover.com, 15 June 2018.
- Kosik, Alli Hoff. “10 Signs Your Dog Loves You & Isn’t Just Pretending Because You Have Treats.” Bustle, Bustle, 24 Aug. 2018.