Valentine’s Day is a day of romance and chocolate and (best of all), love. While celebrations on Valentine’s Day are usually limited to couples, there’s no reason why everyone can’t get in on the action, and that includes your pup(s)! We know you love them to the moon and back, and they feel exactly the same way about you. And they don’t just show it once a year! Dogs show you their love in a hundred tiny ways, some of which you may not always notice. You can show them affection back by spending extra time on a walk or at the park, playing with a ball in the backyard or baking up some fun V-day themed dog treats. As our treat to you for the holiday, we thought it would be fun to round up 14 ways your pup says I love you to you throughout the year.
- Looking into your eyes. On a 60 Minutes segment, Anderson Cooper met with Brian Hare, a well-known dog expert, to discuss how dogs express love. According to Hare, when your dog looks you in the eye, he is “hugging you with his eyes.” Aww!
- Yawning when you yawn. We know that yawns are contagious between humans, but did you know that dogs can also pick up this behavior? A study found that when humans echo another’s yawn, it’s because they’re empathetic, like sympathy pains. It’s impossible to measure if dogs are empathetic, but it’s possible that a dog yawning at the same time as a human happens because the dog has bonded with that person. The study also found that dogs were more likely to yawn when their owners yawned, as opposed to a stranger.
- Leaning on you. We’ve all met dogs who do this and it’s easy to read as a sign of affection. Sometimes a dog will lean on a human because he is anxious, wants you to do something or take him somewhere. But leaning is also a symbol of affection. Enjoy it!
- Cuddling with you after a meal. In his book, How Dogs Love Us, Gregory Berns says that if your dog cuddles with your after eating, it’s a strong sign of affection. Most dogs lovers know that pups are motivated by food. But according to Berns, once a dog eats all of its food, his next action can signify what’s most important to him besides eating.
- Lifting and wiggling their eyebrows. In a recent study in Japan, dogs were introduced to their parent, a stranger, a dog toy, and an item they didn’t like. When seeing their parent, the dogs immediately lifted their eyebrows (especially their left), and when they saw a stranger there was a lot less facial movement, except for movement of the right brow. Yet, when they saw an item they knew and had bonded with, the dogs shifted their left ear back. But if it was an item they didn’t like, their right ear shifted. According to the study, this suggests the dog is more reserved when they are engaging someone they don’t know or something they disapprove of.
- When they calmly watch you leave the house. It’s easy to think that if a dog panics when you leave that it’s a sign that they love you. That’s not necessarily true, according to Gregory Berns. If your dog panics when you leave, it’s more of a sign that they have separation anxiety than that they love you. If a dog goes into his crate or is accepting of you leaving, i.e. they’re calm when you leave, it means your dog loves and trusts you and is confident that you will return.
- Freaking out when you return. A bit of the opposite is true here!.The instinctive feeling here that they’re showing true happiness and love when they’re excited that you’e home is correct – this is love in it’s truest form!
- Wanting to sleep in your room. Whether or not you allow it, your dog wanting to be near you during the night is a sign of affection. According to Berns, if a dog wants to sleep on your bed, it’s a good test of his loyalty because he doesn’t want to be separated from the pack.
- Bringing your his/her favorite toy. If your pup brings you his favorite, most coveted toy, it doesn’t just mean your dog wants to play. Although wanting to play with you is a sign of affection in itself, when your dog brings you his favorite ball, it may also mean he thinks of you as his pack leader. Because of this, he wants to please you by offering you his finest possession, be it a squeaky toy or well-worn Frisbee. Pretty sweet, huh?
- Wagging their tail. We often think of a dog’s wagging tail as a sign of happiness, but that’s only part of the truth. Dogs use it to communicate many different emotions, including happiness, fear, tension or even an imminent attack. Generally, the looser and more relaxed your dog’s tail is, the more relaxed they are. When your dog is happy, its tail will sweep back and forth in a friendly way, or even in circles.
- Shadowing your when you’re sick. Because dogs are inherently social animals, they possess an instinct to care for their “pack.” In the wild, wolves often lick each other’s wounds and care for each other in times of duress, and dogs retain this instinct. Yes, they may lick your actual wound, but their need to care for you can also extend to simply recognizing when you’re feeling sick, and watching over you.
- Following you around. As the key alpha in your pet’s life, your dog knows that you provide it’s food, shelter, safety and affection. The animal’s best chances of survival is to stick with you, it’s pack leader. Also, dogs are social creatures that want to be part of a community, of which you are the main member.
- Jumping on you. While this is a typically undesirable behavior, dogs jump on people because they like them. When you come home after work or from running some errands, your dog is excited and wants to rejoice at your return! While you may find it better to teach your dog another, more acceptable way to share their excitement, jumping should generally be seen as a display of affection.
- Playing with you. While it seems to come at the most inopportune times, our dogs sometimes get playful and try to wrestle with us. This is their natural way of playing! If you’ve ever watched your pup play with another dog, you’ll recognize he’s offering the same behavior to you. Doing a little wrestling with your pooch is certainly safe and fun, and will even give you a new game to play to keep your relationship strong!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of our favorite dogs out there! In the comments below, share with us how your dog shows you their love!