There’s no doubt about it: dogs are social animals that crave love and affection.
While throwing them a treat or giving them a kiss on the forehead is sweet, these signs of affection aren’t always understood by your dog. Your pup has their own special love language and learning it can help them sense all the affection you’re feeling on the inside!
So how do you tell your dog you love them? Learn how to speak your puppy’s love language with these six signs for affection.
1. Rub their ears.
Nothing says love better than a little ear massage! Touching your dog –especially rubbing their eyes which are packed with nerve endings – actually releases oxytocin. And not only does it make your dog happy, but studies have shown that petting your pup also releases endorphins in you, too.
What’s the best way to rub your dog’s ears? Using your index finger and thumb, gently rub the tips of the ears in a circular motion. (Check out this dog massage tutorial for the full works.) They’ll be on cloud nine in no time!
2. Talk to them (the right way).
What about that embarrassingly, squeaky “baby” voice you use only around your dog? Well, studies show that the combination of a high pitched voice and using language specific to your dog (like “do you want to go for a walk?”) is picked up by most pups and is something they actually gravitate towards.
So while it might feel silly to say “How’s my little fur baby today?” in front of all your friends, your dog will greatly appreciate the special attention!
3. Lean on them.
Ever noticed your dog gently leaning on your leg? This is likely your dog showing you affection! You can reciprocate the love by giving this a little lean back. This is much better than an embracing “human” hug, which can sometimes make dogs feel trapped.
Just make sure they’re not leaning on you in an anxious way, like pushing hard to avoid something or trying to get past you to get the door.
4. Gaze into their eyes.
You might not be able to speak the same language as your four-legged fur babe, but fortunately, there is always “the look!” Your dog’s eyes can express a ton of emotion, and you can reciprocate it with a lingering gaze. In the same that that snuggling or petting can release the happy oxytocin endorphin, so too can soflty staring into your dog’s eyes.
One study actually showed that raising your eyebrows (in particular, your left eyebrow) is a way to show your pup a positive sign of love!
Word to the wise: don’t stare at your dog if you’re sensing aggression and never gaze into a dog’s eyes that you don’t know as they might take this as a sign of attack.
5. Snuggle together.
Cuddle up, pup! Both humans and dogs thrive on physical contact, so a little snuggle session can do you both some good.
Not into the idea of your dog sleeping in your bed? Let them join you on the couch, or set a blanket out on the ground where you both can lay down in a pet-friendly zone.
6. Learn their body language.
Want to know when your dog is expressing their affection? Look out for these physical signs of love and happiness:
a wagging tail
soft eye contact
a raised eyebrow (see more below)
a gentle lean
Understanding your pup’s body language can help you know when to give them some affection in return.
Like humans, every dog may have slightly different preferences for signs of affection. Try out these techniques and get to know your pup to see what they like the best! Then shower them with all the affection you can muster – they’ll likely return the love tenfold.