How to Tell if Your Dog Loves You (2024)

Does my dog love me or just my food? If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re one of the thousands of dog owners who have wondered the same thing. Are they the ultimate scam artists, or do they truly love us?

The short answer: yes. Dogs do love us, and they show it in a lot of different ways.

Signs Your Dog Loves You

Here are some ways you can tell if your pup is showing some love:

They’re excited to see you. All dog owners are familiar with this scene. You open your front door to a thunderstorm of furry playfulness. Your dog might jump on you, lick your face, and they’ll definitely wag their tail. Being excited and happy to see you is one way you can be assured they love and miss you.

They seek physical contact. This can come in the form of a quick nuzzle, a cuddle, or the famous lean. All of these signal that your pup wants to show affection. It’s best to let them do this on their own terms, so resist the urge to trap them in a tight hug.

They want to sleep near you. Dogs, by nature, sleep in a pack next to each other. They place their noses to the wind to pick up on any smells that might signal a threat. When your pup snuggles beside you or wants to sleep in your room, it’s a sign that they trust you and feel safe.

They give you puppy eyes. Holding eye contact is a big move for dogs, and it’s reserved for someone they love and trust. In the wild, dead-on eye contact is an aggressive move. They use this tactic to intimidate each other and establish dominance. When your dog looks you right in the eyes and holds eye contact without their pupils getting bigger, they're gazing at you lovingly.

They check on you. Cooking, watching tv, bathroom visits — your dog is there through it all — or at least they try to be. Your pup might pop into your bedroom once to say hi, or they might be your permanent shadow around the house. Checking up on you is just one way your dog shows affection. They're making sure you’re ok!

They’ll lick you. When your dog licks you, it could be for a few different reasons, but ultimately it’s an affectionate gesture. They want your attention and want to interact. They could be gearing up to play or just giving an affectionate lick before a cuddle. Either way, they want to show you they care.

They share their toys. Your dog might sometimes tease you with their toy when they want to play, but in a true gesture of affection, they’ll present it as a gift. They want to share their most prized possession with the person they care about. Sounds like a whole lot of love.

You’re only second place when there’s food involved. A pup that loves you will prioritize you above all—except a big bowl of food. That’s the only time they’ll be totally and completely smitten with something else.

What Science Says About Puppy Love

Researchers on a quest to answer this age-old question conducted magnetic image resonance tests (MRI) on several trained dogs to look at their brain activity. When presented with a selection of different smells, the dogs were more excited by their human’s scent than by any other smell, including, notably, food. Research also tells us some dogs prefer praise over food, or want both equally.

Another study showed that dogs’ brain activity went through the roof when they listened to happy sounds, like praise. The same study also showed many similarities between the way both humans and dogs process sounds.

In a nutshell, dogs are naturally wired to pick up on changes in our voice and mood. That’s why, of all the animals in the world, dogs are our best friends.

How to Tell if Your Dog Loves You (2024)

FAQs

How to Tell if Your Dog Loves You? ›

Signs a Dog May Be Feeling 'Sad'

A depressed dog may stop eating and drinking, become lethargic and withdrawn, or their depression can manifest as anxiety, and the dog may become destructive. A depressed dog might also become aggressive, Inman says.

How to tell if your dog truly loves you? ›

Now that we have some science to back up our suspicions, here are ten canine behaviors that surely look a lot like love.
  • Gets Excited To See You. ...
  • Seeks Physical Contact. ...
  • Wants to Sleep Near You. ...
  • Gives You Loving Eyes & Holds Eye Contact. ...
  • Checks In On You. ...
  • Licks You. ...
  • Share Toys & Delivers Them to You as Gifts.

How do I tell if my dog is bonded with me? ›

Other signs of a strong bond include:
  1. Keeping tabs on your location when they are off leash.
  2. Frequently checking in to see where you're at.
  3. Performing obedience happily without hesitation.
  4. Making a great effort to find you when you play hide-and-seek.
  5. A desire to be near you.

How do you know if you are a dog's favorite person? ›

Signs Your Dog Loves You
  • They want to sleep near you. Dogs, by nature, sleep in a pack next to each other. ...
  • They give you puppy eyes. Holding eye contact is a big move for dogs, and it's reserved for someone they love and trust. ...
  • They check on you.
Jul 15, 2023

How do dogs show sadness? ›

Signs a Dog May Be Feeling 'Sad'

A depressed dog may stop eating and drinking, become lethargic and withdrawn, or their depression can manifest as anxiety, and the dog may become destructive. A depressed dog might also become aggressive, Inman says.

How do I know if my dog is emotionally attached to me? ›

Body language

Dogs who have a strong emotional attachment to their humans display it in a variety of subtle – and not-so-subtle – ways. Full-body excitement: One of the most obvious signs of attachment is the enthusiastic, full-body greeting you receive whenever you return home.

Does a dog trust you if they sleep on you? ›

"Understanding the body language of your dog creates a sense of trust, as you'll know when their boundaries need to be respected," he said. A dog's number one priority at bedtime is comfort and security. So, if they're choosing to sleep in the same space as you, it's a big sign that they trust you.

Can a dog change their favorite person? ›

“Dogs' [attitude is] very much 'love the one you're with,'” Nichols says. “They are often equally happy with any human they are familiar with.” Dogs can also “switch” favorite humans throughout their lives.

How do you tell if your dog respects you? ›

She follows your lead

They look to their owners when they're uncertain. They're more likely to explore new places with their owners, as opposed to going alone or with a stranger. They even copy to their owners emotions to a degree, showing anxiety when the owners are anxious and calm when the owners are calm.

What makes a dog not trust you? ›

Reasons Your Dog Can Have Trust Issues

This can range from lack of socialization as a puppy, not being exposed to sights and sounds like car rides, children, and fireworks, to emotional scars from a history of abuse or surviving a traumatic event. Also, genetics can make some dogs more predisposed to being fearful.

Should your dog sleep in your bed? ›

So, at the end of the day, it's really a matter of personal preference. “Some people find they feel more protected and comfortable with their dog sleeping in bed, while others may find them distracting,” Ellis concludes. “There's really no right answer — it's whatever best suits your lifestyle.”

How do I tell my dog I love him? ›

5 Ways to Tell Your Dog You Love Them
  1. Loving Gaze. Eye contact is a critical way for a dog to communicate with their pet parent. ...
  2. A Touch of Love. The simple act of physical touch can flood your dog with oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. ...
  3. Good Listening. ...
  4. Positive Reinforcement. ...
  5. The Most Exciting Day Ever.

Do dogs sense they are loved? ›

Dr. Hare has answered some of the burning canine cognition questions many curious dog lovers have to strengthen the bond between humans and their pups even further. Does my dog know how much I love him? Yes, your dog knows how much you love him!

Do dogs like being hugged? ›

Experts in dog behavior believe that, in general, dogs do not like being embraced. However, every dog has a unique personality. Some may dislike hugs more strongly than others, and some may actually adore them. The closest thing our furry family members do to a hug is something referred to as 'standing over'.

Do dogs know if I love them? ›

If you've wondered whether or not your dog can tell you love them, you probably care enough that they definitely can. You and your dog have a special bond, and the more time you spend together the stronger it will grow. Keep showing your pup the love, and they'll keep showing it right back.

How do I show my dog I love him? ›

So, here's how to show your dog you love them:
  1. Use facial expressions. ...
  2. Talk to your dog. ...
  3. Embrace napping together. ...
  4. Use training as a form of bonding. ...
  5. Lose the distractions. ...
  6. Gazing into their eyes. ...
  7. Rub their ears. ...
  8. Respect their privacy.
Mar 9, 2022

How can you tell if a dog is attached to you? ›

Signs of a dog imprinting on you include: closely following you, mimicking your behavior, readily obeying your commands, seeking your companionship, making eye contact, and showing affection. Imprinting can lead to a strong attachment, which may have both positive and potentially distressing aspects for the dog.

How do you tell if a dog has imprinted on you? ›

Here are seven signs your dog imprinted on you—in other words, formed a very strong bond.
  1. They give affection. Does your dog give you plenty of wet kisses? ...
  2. They hold eye contact. ...
  3. They bring you gifts. ...
  4. They expose their belly. ...
  5. They sleep near you. ...
  6. They're happy and excited around you. ...
  7. They mirror your behavior.
Jul 26, 2023

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