Does My Dog Love Me: How To Tell

Do you ever wonder “does my dog love me?” You aren’t alone in wondering if your dog feels the same level of love for you that you feel for him.

There are plenty of fun quizzes online and some common-sense answers, but there are some scientific studies that explain how dogs show love to humans. Amazingly, there are ways dogs show love to other animals.

As human beings, of course, we love our dogs. What’s not to love about unconditional love, a wagging tail, and total devotion?! We want our dogs to feel the same level and deepness of love for us as we do for them. Here’s how to tell if your dog really loves you or not.

Does My Dog Love Me?

One of the top canine scientists in the world says the true gift of dogs is their affection. Clive Wynne, a psychologist and founder of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, acknowledges that dogs are smart. However, the ability for dogs to form affectionate relationships with other species, including you, is their greatest gift.

“Dogs fall in love much more easily than people do, and they also seem to be able to move on much more easily than people can,” Wynne says. “I’m not saying human and dog love are identical. I’m just saying there’s enough similarity between how dogs form strong emotional bonds and how people form strong emotional bonds that it’s fair enough to use the love word.”

Scientifically, Wynne thinks dogs polished their cognitive abilities by living with humans for over 15,000 years. Years ago, a scientific experiment was performed where dog parents pretended to have a heart attack. Ironically, their dogs didn’t react or try to “save them.” Participants interpreted this as a sign their dogs do not love them.

Wynne’s reaction to this feedback is uncanny. He says, “Well, how are you supposed to know what to do under those circumstances?”

Dogs do show us love, and the purest scientific form of proof in the form of oxytocin. Oxytocin is called the love hormone because the level goes up when two people are in love. This feel-good hormone is also evident when dogs bond with their humans.

A Japanese research group analyzed the levels of oxytocin in dogs’ and humans’ urine when they looked at one another. Amazingly, the oxytocin levels went up for the dogs and their people. True love is simply amazing and can be scientifically measured.

Signs That Your Dog Loves You

Science is great, but you probably aren’t rushing out to a laboratory anytime soon to check your dog’s oxytocin levels when he looks at you. Here are some ways a dog shows their love to humans:

Your Dog Follows You Around

If you have a “Velcro” dog, congratulations. A dog who has an innate desire to be next to you and by your side is showing you love. Yes, he likely also is curious and wants to know what you are doing and where you are going. At his core, his shadow behavior indicates he loves you.

Some pet parents find it incredibly annoying to have a dog follow them around and others love it. I’m in the latter camp and am coming clean here. I haven’t peed alone for three decades, as Cocker Spaniels love to be with their humans, and that includes following me to the bathroom.

Your Dog Wags When He Sees You

Whether he has a stump, a long flowing tail, or doesn’t even have a tail on his back end, your dog will wiggle to and fro in your presence. Some tail wags can clear a coffee table, such as with Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds.

Dogs wag their tails to show a range of emotions: nervousness, fear, excitement, pain, and happiness. If your dog is wagging his tail in your company, he just can’t hold his emotions in. Dogs who are happy and feel good in the company of a human will often wag in response.

Your Dog Makes Eye Contact With You

You now know that science says the feel-good hormones go up when you and your dog look at each other, so believe it.

If you ever tried Facetime or Skype with your dog and they look away, don’t take it personally. Most dogs have no clue you are trying to talk to them and make eye contact. My dog used to get excited hearing my voice on Facetime when I traveled. Eventually, he realized I wasn’t there and went on to do something else. Dogs are like that.

“From the time they are puppies, dogs appear to be driven to establish eye contact with humans, which can be a marker of attachment,” according to Rebecca Greenstein, veterinarian and medical advisor for Rover.

Sometimes a dog can perceive a stare as a threat, as dogs may perceive that as a threat. A hard stare with unblinking eyes and a stiff posture indicates the dog feels threatened. Dogs will often stare at their humans when they are trying to communicate something. Food? A toy is stuck? Time to potty? They love you?

Your Dog Displays Certain Facial Expressions

Dogs have special facial anatomy that allows them to engage in a variety of expressions. Dogs can raise their eyebrows and give you those “puppy dog eyes.”

Most mammals can produce facial expressions, but science decided to prove if dogs can really express emotions this way. In the canine experiment, a human was tending to the dogs or turning away from them. Sometimes she had food and other times she did not.

The results showed that dogs produced many more facial movements when the human was attentive to them than when she was not. The study concluded dogs are sensitive to a human’s attentional state when producing facial expressions.

Start paying attention to the various facial expressions of your dog and when he displays them. Dogs who raise their eyebrows (one or both) while looking at you are showing signs of alertness and interest. Your loving dog is wondering what you are up to.

Your Dog’s Body Language

Does your dog ever lean against you or appear to snuggle by your side? Yeah, that’s love. Your dog loves you but also trusts you if he does this. If the lean seems more fearful or nervous, he might be indicating anxiety, so pay attention to when and how he does this.

Rolling over is a common way dogs show trust and relaxation. They want you to know they completely adore you and it’s okay that you rub their tummy.

Your Dog Brings You A Toy or Object

Does your dog ever greet you at the door on arriving home and have something in his mouth? Maybe it’s a stuffed toy or a favorite treat. He is so excited you are home, he is gifting you with something.

Maybe your dog even pees when excited. If you have a Cocker Spaniel, you know all about excitement piddle. Dogs who just can’t control their sheer bliss at seeing you will display a whole range of behaviors and emotions.

Why Do Some Dogs Show Love More Than Others

Like people, all dogs are different. A friend of mine rescued a dog from the shelter and they bonded over the course of a few months. The dog was seized in a drug bust and had been through a lot in her short life. Over the course of her life, Zola remained steadfast and unwavering in her devotion to her mom. However, the dog was not a cuddler or a snuggler.

“My dog moves away from me whenever I try to snuggle with her on the couch,” my friend would complain. Zola went through a lot in her life, and we have no idea if something happened on a couch if she didn’t feel comfortable being “crowded,” or perhaps she just wanted space.

Not all dogs enjoy the physical closeness. My first Cocker Spaniel followed me from room to room and had to know where we were at all times. However, she wasn’t fond of being cuddled, hugged, or smothered with love. I respected that and let her do her own thing. Dogs show affection in many ways.

Dogs have different temperaments and personalities, and each dog is different. Some people love a clingy, cuddly breed, such as a Cocker Spaniel. Not all Cockers like to be cuddled. Dogs look to their humans for security, safety, food, and love. He may not display certain behaviors, but the love is there inside your pooch.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Bonded With Me?

Signs of a strong bond include all of the indicators listed above, but there’s so much more. If your dog loves being in your company, is mostly attentive when you call for him, and genuinely cares about where you are and what you are doing, you’ve bonded.

Some dogs prefer to sleep with their parents, stay by their side, sit by their feet while at work, and wait for them by the door to come home. These are all classic bonding signs.

How Can I Show My Dog I Love Him

With all of these ways dogs show you they love you, there are plenty of ways to reciprocate. Here’s how to show your dog you love them, too:

Keep up with his health and wellness visits. Log your records and notes into our DogMinder.Spend time away from the phone or computer and play with your dog, take him for a walk, and make sure the time together is quality.Perform 10 touches a week to ensure your dog’s good health.Don’t shout, yell, or berate your dog.Never put your hands on a dog in anger.Talk to him, even if he can’t hear you. Dogs know when you are talking to them.Pet him in his favorite spot: behind the ears? His butt? On his belly?Don’t leave him alone for hours and hours on end. Provide a pet sitter, someone to check in, and plenty of things to do in your absence.Praise him for the big and little things he does and just for being your furry best friend.Understand his body language.Take time for training and guidance. My dog earned his AKC trick dog beginner and intermediate titles just for fun and bonding when he was 11 years young.Provide good nutrition, cool clean water, and don’t let him get overweight.Plan for days away. There is nothing in the world like a day spent with your dog doing whatever your heart desires: an indoor picnic, a day trip, a drive to his favorite park, visiting local pet supply stores.Keep your dog bathed and groomed, trim his nails, and be sure any lumps or bumps are checked by a veterinarian.Visit with other doggy friends. My dog loves seeing his canine pals.

Your Turn

How does your dog show you he loves you? Do you ever catch him staring at you or doing something else that shows love? Do tell in the comments below.

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