Ever wonder, “does my dog love me?” From belly scratches, to treats, to finding them the perfect sitter, we do a lot to show our dogs how much we care. But how do we know they feel the same? Turns out there are some clear signs you can look for. Your pet can’t come home with a bouquet of roses, but he might bring you his favorite KONG. And that’s a sign of deep affection. Yep—slobber and all.
Looking for more insight into your dog’s thoughts and feelings? Start with Dr. Stanley Coren’s indispensable How Dogs Think on dog psychology and Dr. Patricia McConnell’s For the Love of a Dog, all about dog emotions.
If your dog shows any of the following behaviors, signs point to his or her unwavering love for you.
He Goes Crazy When You Come Home
We’ve all seen this before. You walk in the front door and you are eagerly greeted by your dog, tail wagging with a toy in his mouth (and probably lots of jumping too!). This is love in its truest form.
Your dog is displaying his excitement to see you in any way he can. However, according to the Wall Street Journal Blog, if your dog seems to do this each time someone walks into the house, he may be a bit…promiscuous. So, this isn’t the strongest determining factor as to whether Fido thinks you’re “the one.”
Specific Facial Expressions
A dog’s love isn’t all about tail wagging. Instead, it’s about facial expressions. In a recent study in Japan, dogs were introduced to their parent, a stranger, a dog toy, and an item they disapproved of. When seeing their parent, the dogs immediately lifted their eyebrows (especially their left). When they saw a stranger there was significantly less facial movement, and it was movement of the right brow.
Similarly, when seeing someone they knew and were bonded to, the dogs shifted their left ear back. If it was an item they disliked, they shifted their right. According to the study, this suggests the dog is likely more reserved when meeting someone new, or seeing something they dislike.
She Really Looks at You
In a 60-Minutes segment on CBS, Anderson Cooper met with Brian Hare, a well-known dog expert, to discuss a dog’s love. According to this segment, when your dog looks you in the eye, he is “hugging you with his eyes.”
Why? Because when your dog looks at you, oxytocin is released, which is the same hormone that helps new mothers bond with their babies. This eye contact truly indicates your dog’s love for you.
We don’t recommend you have a staring contest for the first 10 minutes after you get home tonight. She will immediately sense something is different, and will likely look away. Instead, take time to try to maintain eye contact throughout the day and see how your dog responds.
He Yawns With You
We’ve all heard that yawning is contagious, and may have experienced this when a friend yawns during conversation. (Did you just yawn? Even reading about yawning can make you yawn!). But did you know that dogs experience the same sensation?
According to Live Science, a recent study shows that yawning indicates empathy in us. In other words, because humans are empathetic, they sense the yawn in their peer. It’s nearly impossible to measure a dog’s empathy, but it’s likely that yawning symbolizes a bond to their human.
In this study, dogs were more likely to yawn when their owners yawned, as opposed to a stranger. Hard to believe? You can test it out at home. Just don’t be discouraged if your dog doesn’t yawn back immediately—he may not recognize the yawn, and instead wonder why you’re showing him your grin.
It’s True Love
There are plenty of “scientific” ways to confirm your dog loves you, but of course, these reactions vary from dog to dog.
The truest way to know if your dog loves you? Trust your gut. Whether he perks his ears when he hears your voice, looks meek when you leave but jumps uncontrollably when you get home, or cuddles up next to you any chance he can, we’re pretty sure his heart is 100% yours.
Travel plans? Next time you leave town, find a dog sitter who’ll treat your dog like family. Rover’s got you covered with loving dog sitters across the U.S. including Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Oakland, Orlando, and your city.
Top image via Flickr/FoundAnimalsFoundation
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