Speaking Dog - 5 ways to show your dog you love him
When it comes to showing love, we humans have a range of gestures; holding hands, kissing and hugging - all recognised expressions of love in cultures around the world.
But to your four-legged companion what exactly do such human gestures mean?
Holding hands- while the idea of walking hand in hand with your dog is just silly, dog pawing is a common behaviour and is simply your dog’s way of communicating that he wants your attention.
Kissing- face licking and licking your mouth may seem like a show of affection, but these perceived licks of love are actually an attempt at pacifying you and themselves, and are more of a submissive gesture, a way of saying, ‘I like you, you can be my friend.’
Hugging- a recent study revealed that dogs feel uncomfortable when we hug them, the opposite of our intentions. Instead of showing a bond of closeness, hugging is restrictive and causes distress as it makes them feel trapped.
So how do you show your furry friend just how much you love him in a way he will understand.
- Speak softly and stroke him gently while maintaining eye contact– when a puppy is licked by its mother it experiences a release of Oxytocin which strengthens the bond between puppy and mother. The same hormone is released when you speak softly and stroke your dog gently while maintaining eye contact – therefore strengthening your bond with your dog.
- Be expressive– dogs watch their masters closely and the more facial expressions you show when greeting your dog the more loved he feels. If you are able to raise your eyebrows, raise your left one, and your dog will feel really special. The significance of this is that right side of the dog’s brain controls the left side of the face which is linked to emotion, and the left side of the dog’s brain controls the right side of the face which is tied to analytical behaviours.
- Hugging doggy style– pups often lean on their mothers as a display of affection. Have you ever had your dog press his body up against you or lean into you? This is his way of giving you a hug. Hug him back, lean on him and you will be showing your dog that you love him.
- The ultimate display of love – let your dog sleep with you as this is when he feels most vulnerable and it shows his complete trust, and also that he considers you a member of his pack – his family.
(If you have a ‘no dogs on the bed’ policy, snuggling on the sofa or the floor will also work to reaffirm your affection).
- Be yourself– you may not always know what your dog is feeling or thinking, but your dog has no problem reading your emotions and he knows just how much you love him by the tone of your voice, your body language and your actions.
If you're interested in this subject, feel free to also read more about showing affection without going too far in humanising your dog.