It’s not what someone says but rather what they do that matters. And since dogs can’t speak (in the human way, at least) they will communicate with displays and performances and sometimes even subtle gestures to get their message across. So how does your dog tell you he loves you? Let us count the ways…
1. Wiggle waggle
A wagging tail on the end of a wiggling body is the most recognisable sign that your dog is happy to see the one he loves (you!). Whether it’s the kind of tail wag that will smash things off of coffee tables or the long, slow sweep of the tail of a contented dog, a wagging tail is a sure sign of doggy joy. Ten points extra if that wagging tail is accompanied by dropped ears and the familiar ‘dog smile’ that Labradors and retrievers are so well-known for. Look at your dog right now and say his name. Is his tail wagging? Then of course he loves you!
2. Close proximity
If the thought of being away from the one you love makes you sad, then it’s safe to assume your dog feels the same way. He doesn’t want to be very far away from you. If he follows you from one room to the next as you go about your day, this is a sign of love, which you reinforce every time you give him a pat on the head, speak to him or smile in his direction. Not all dogs love to cuddle, but if yours does, this is another sure sign of puppy love and simply relishing any attention you have to give. Even if your dog is notoriously independent, he may still come looking for you from time to time – an indication that it’s important to him to know where you are because he cares about your wellbeing.
3. Extended yet soft eye contact
When dogs make eye contact with each other, it’s usually read as a challenge. However, dogs have learnt that making soft eye contact with humans can transfer all sorts of love messages and may even earn them a treat! But even when there are no treats in sight, your dog shows his love by making extended eye contact, dropping his ears and giving you that look of pure adoration. By returning that long, loving stare, you’re telling him you love him too, which is all he wants.
4. The zoomies
Whether you’ve been out to the shops for five minutes or away at work all day, if your dog does the zoomies on your return, this is a sign of utter delight and excitement that you’ve come back to him. It’s the kind of love that is hard for his body to contain, so it sends him zooming all over the place with joyful abandon. Does your human partner do the zoomies when you come home? Well, then.
5. I lick you very much
It’s a commonly held belief that when your dog licks you, it’s the equivalent of a human kiss. Since you wouldn’t normally go around kissing just anyone, it’s a sign of close affection and love, reserved for a special few. Dogs lick the people who they love and trust, but there’s an extra nuance to this loving behaviour: licking is not just a frivolous gesture, it’s a call for attention. “I love you. Give me some affection. Play with me.” So there’s a lot of information – not just bacteria – transferred in a lick! You can return the message by giving your dog a tummy rub or a scratch behind the ears to let him know you love him too.
6. Sharing is caring
Think about it: there are five people in the room, but your dog brings YOU his favourite toy. Even if nothing is said, you’ll feel pretty special that you’re the Chosen One. Whether it’s a toy, a dead bird (yuck), or that sock you thought you lost ages ago, dogs show love by bringing you things that are important to them. A toy offering is also an invitation to play, so show him you love him in return by playing!
There are many other ways that dogs show love and affection. Be your pet’s hero by returning these gestures and validating that you’re his best friend as much as he is yours!