For centuries, dogs and humans have shared a special bond. We've seen this bond in books, movies, and real life. There are not many things easier to earn than a dog's love. There are also not many things more valuable than a dog’s love.
However, it can be hard to know for sure how much a dog loves their person, if at all. Dogs don't express their feelings the same way we do, so it's easy to be confused.
Let's look at dog behaviors so that you can recognize signs your dog is showing you to say, "I love you," in their own way.
How Do Dogs Feel Love?
A dog's brain works a little differently than ours. When we feel love, a brain scan can show certain parts of a human brain lighting up. We also produce a chemical called Oxytocin when we feel love for something.
When a dog has positive feelings toward a person, parts of the animal's brain will also light up. The same parts light up on the scan when dogs are given a treat they enjoy. This is how we know the brain activity is positive.
When a dog can smell or see their person (or people), the animal feels an emotional connection to them. The more positive time the dog spends with familiar people, the stronger the dog’s bond becomes.
Signs Your Dog Loves You
A dog's love is pretty easy to notice if you're paying attention. Because they can't talk, they find ways to express the way they feel about their people in other ways. If any of these actions are common for your dog, you can be sure that you have his or her love.
- Your dog seems excited to see you.
As soon as you come through your front door, a loving dog will usually meet you there. He or she will jump around, wag their tail, lick you, or bark happily. Your dog's excitement to see you is an obvious sign of love.
Your dog tries to share with you.
To show you they love you, your dog might try to share something special with you. This might be a blanket, a toy, or even a treat. You may notice your dog placing his or her toys beside you or on your lap. They're doing this to tell you that they care enough about you to offer you something precious to them.
Sometimes, sharing can be a dog’s way of asking to spend time with you. If the animal brings you their harness, for example, they might be saying, “Can we go for a walk together?”
This closeness can be different depending on your dog's personality. Sometimes, your dog might take time to cuddle with you, sit beside you to be petted, or lean against you.
Your dog will also make an effort to stay near you. For example, your dog might lie down in the same room as you, or follow you from one room to another.
A dog usually trusts the person they love. Because your dog loves you, he or she will look to you for guidance. If the dog isn't sure about something in the environment, they will stay close to the person they trust. When a dog has to do his or her business outside, the animal will make eye contact with the person they trust.
Making eye contact while going to the bathroom is basically your dog telling you, "I trust you, so keep an eye on me."
On the same topic, your dog will try to repay the favor by keeping an eye out for you while you're in the bathroom.
Your dog watches over you.
No matter what you're doing at home, a loving dog might try to keep an eye out for you. He or she might follow you around the house in some situations. Other times, your dog might watch you from a distance just to make sure you're doing well.
Even if your dog is small, an animal who loves you will usually try to protect you when they think danger is near. This duty might include barking when there’s a knock at the door or standing between you and everyone else. When trying to keep you safe, there is nothing that will stop a loving dog.
Now that you know your dog loves you dearly, you probably want to show your animal friend that the feeling is mutual. To express your feelings in a way your dog understands, do things your pet enjoys. Put on your dog’s harness and take him for a walk. Let him play at your local dog park, or give him a treat and belly rubs to say, “I love you, too.”
Rover, Pet WebMD, Insider, VCA Hospitals