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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 do they feel the same? Turns out there are some clear signs you can look for.
Though your pet can’t present you with a bouquet of roses, he might just 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 it. You walk in the front door and 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.
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. And even though we know your doggo adores you, this isn’t the strongest indicator as to whether Fido thinks you’re “the one.”
Specific Facial Expressions
A dog’s love isn’t all about tail wagging, it’s also about facial expressions. In one study conducted 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 brow). When they saw a stranger, there was significantly less facial movement, and movement was displayed in 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 to be 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 engaging in a staring contest the minute you get home. She will immediately sense something is different, and will likely look away. Instead, take the 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 a 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.
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 or cuddles up next to you any chance he gets, we’re pretty sure your dog’s heart is 100% yours.
Looking for ways to express your love for your dog? Visit the Rover Store and check out items like our essential cotton canvas “All You Need” Tote Bag. Wear it proudly on your next walk with your best furry friend, or bring it along on your next grocery trip.