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Home > Dogs > How Do Dogs Show Love? 6 Different Ways

How Do Dogs Show Love? 6 Different Ways

dog sniffing owner's hands

Do dogs use a universal language to show their love? While every pup is unique and how they show affection may differ, certain signs remain constant across breeds. Here are six ways that dogs express their love and the scientific evidence behind the strong bond between dog owners and their beloved pets.


The 6 Different Ways Dogs Show Love to Their Humans

1. They Greet You With a Welcome Home Party

Every time you come home, it’s party time! Your pup may jump, bark, and wiggle their whole body the second that you walk through the door (even if you only went to get milk). Perhaps they’re more subtle and just wag their tail. Either way, that overflowing enthusiasm indicates how much your dog loves you. That said, it’s best not to encourage jumping because this behavior can become problematic, especially for large dog breeds.

In a move. Irish red setter happy to see the owner. The dog jumping near country house
Image Credit: AlexandrinaZ, Shutterstock

2. They Bring You Their Favorite Toy

You know the saying: Sharing is caring! So, if your dog brings you their favorite toy and lets you keep it, that’s a clear sign of love. However, it’s also possible that your dog just wants to play or show off their toys to get your attention.

3. They Follow You Everywhere

Does your dog always insist on being as close to you as possible? Are they constantly by your side while you cook, watch a movie, read a book, or even go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Following you around can be their way of saying that they trust you, love you, and cannot do without your company.

However, it can also be a sign of separation anxiety. Dogs may also stay close to their owner’s side if they are nervous, scared, unsure of strangers, or not feeling well. If you feel that your dog is following you excessively, it is best to consult your veterinarian for advice.

man petting his husky dog in a home office
Image Credit: ekaterina-bolovtsova, Pexels

4. They Snuggle Up With You at Night

If your four-legged friend sneaks to your side at night, it means they consider you a member of their pack. Most dogs have a strong protective instinct toward their owner and want to watch over them. The fact that they are ready to snuggle with you is a sign that they feel safe and entrust you with the role of “protector” for the night.

5. They Stare at You With Loving Eyes

Research shows that mutual gazing can help create an emotional bond between humans and their canine companions. Indeed, long exchanges of glances increase the level of oxytocin (the hormone that plays a role in maternal bonding, trust, and altruism) and strengthen the bond between owner and dog. That’s probably why you feel so loved when your dog looks at you with tender eyes!

well behaved dog looking at his owner while sleeping
Image Credit: Igor Normann, Shutterstock

6. They Comfort You

Dogs can understand human emotions to a certain extent and even show empathy. This is why your loyal companion may lie next to you, touch you, lick you all over, and try to comfort you when you are feeling sad, depressed, or anxious. Scientists don’t yet understand all the nuances of canine emotions, but studies show that dogs do indeed exhibit empathetic behaviors when humans show sadness.


What Does Science Say About a Dog’s Love?

Besides the obvious signs that dogs love us, scientific data indicates that dogs get positive emotions from the smell and voice of their owners.

For example, a 2014 study involved training dogs to enter an MRI scanner to monitor a part of their brain called the caudate nucleus.

Scientists scanned the brains of dogs while exposing them to certain smells. The scans showed that the caudate nucleus lit up differently when a dog smelled their owner. The effect was not as strong when dogs sniffed other random humans or dogs.

This data suggests that dogs can feel positive emotions, such as love and attachment to their owners.

owner training her toy poodle dog
Image Credit: Linas T, Shutterstock

How Can You Increase Your Bond With Your Dog?

Not all relationships between dogs and humans are created equal. Some owners seem to have a naturally strong connection with their pups, while others struggle to get their pet’s attention. If this is your case, don’t be discouraged. With patience, love, and the following tips, you can improve your bond with your canine companion:

  • Do more activities together. Obedience classes, agility training, dog sports, hiking, swimming, obstacle courses, and dock diving are just a few of the many activities that you can do with your best friend to strengthen your bond.
  • Make every experience a positive moment. For example, if your dog doesn’t like to take a bath, use toys or treats to make this event as pleasant as possible.
  • Know that scolding your dog is pointless. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement to improve your pet’s trust in you.



You already knew that your furry friend loved you unconditionally. But now you also know how most dogs show their deep love for their people. Science tells us that part of a dog’s brain is associated with positive emotions, such as genuine love for their human companions.

Featured Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

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