Does My Dog Love Me?
How to tell what those happy wiggles really mean ❤️️
Humans loveeee love. Which means we want the people — or animals — we love to show us they love us back.
But it’s sometimes hard for us to tell whether or not our dogs truly, deeply, madly love us — especially if you’re a new pet owner.
Who doesn’t want to feel all warm, fuzzy and loved by our pets?
To help you get that confirmation you’re looking for, The Dodo turned to Dr. Vanessa Spano, a veterinarian at Behavior Vets in New York City, to understand how dogs show their love.
“It is so important to understand your pets' body language, as that is their way of communicating with us,” Dr. Spano said.
Here are some of the most common ways to tell that your dog, in fact, abso-freakin’-lutely loves you.
Your dog has a relaxed, wiggly body
“When interacting with your dog, body language signs to look out for that may indicate comfort and positivity include a relaxed body (or wiggly body during times of excitement, like play or you coming home), soft, forward ears and soft, rounded eyes,” Dr. Spano said.
He wiggles his eyebrows at you
You read that right! Doggos in love are known to raise their eyebrows when they see their owner. In fact, a 2013 Japanese study used a high-speed camera to record dogs' faces when their humans walked into the room. It found that dogs raised their eyebrows when they saw their owners, but not when strangers walked in. *happy cry*
He wants your attention
“It is also a good sign if your dog is soliciting attention from you, such as with a play bow,” Dr. Spano said.
This can also be seen when he brings you one of his favorite toys.
He leans against you
A dog will lean on humans for a few different reasons — sometimes it's because he's anxious or he wants you to do something — but it’s also a sign of affection. And regardless — even if your dog is leaning against you because he's nervous — it still indicates that he thinks of you as someone who can protect him and keep him safe.
Confusing body language to look out for
According to Dr. Spano, there are some things dogs do that humans typically consider to be signs of affection, but aren’t always.
“Confusing signs include wagging tails and exposed bellies,” Dr. Spano said. “A dog wagging his tail simply means he is aroused by the situation. This can be a good thing, but not necessarily; it depends on the context of the situation.”
This means that it’s good to notice the situations that cause each of your dog's behaviors and begin to build an understanding of your individual dog's moods.
For example, maybe you notice your dog always wags her tail when you walk into a room — you can equate that situation with her being happy in those moments. On the other hand, maybe you’ve also noticed she wags her tail just a bit stiffer when she sees a strange dog, and it’s almost always followed by raising her hair and growling. While she is wagging her tail in both of these situations, it’s not the same kind of tail wag.
“Similarly, a dog showing his belly may be asking for belly rubs, but it can also indicate fear,” Dr. Spano said. “Dogs do have the capability of trusting and loving you, but depending on their own fears, stress level and past experiences, it may take some time.”
So in general, look for those relaxed and wiggly bodies to know how happy your dog is to see you. Other behaviors you’ll learn over time — and it’ll just help your bond grow even stronger since you’ll be the only one who can truly detect your dog's moods and emotions.