Whenever I pick up a bone for my dog Hank at the store, I can hardly contain my excitement before giving it to him because I know that he loves treats more than almost anything in the world. The moment he smells anything tasty, his ears perk up and he begins to run in circles, and trust me — it’s the cutest thing to watch. I think it’s safe to say that every dog loves treats, but besides loving food, do dogs have love languages? According to experts, they definitely do, and figuring out how your pup gives and receives love isn’t as hard as you might think.
According to Dr. Matthew Goetz, medical director at the Arizona Animal Welfare League, deciphering your pup’s love language is all about paying attention to their actions. “If your dog does something that does not benefit them at all but because it keeps you safe or brings you joy, they are doing it out of love,” he tells Elite Daily in an email.
The dog love is real, folks. Michelson Found Animals, an animal welfare non-profit organization, recently conducted a survey of over 1,000 people, and found that 81 percent of respondents consider their pet to be one of the greatest loves of their life. What’s more, 47 percent of people in the survey said their pet actually taught them how to love.
So while you might think of Valentine’s Day as a time to appreciate your romantic partner or your “galentines,” make sure you don’t forget to celebrate your puppy love, too. Here are some of the ways your cute canine shows and receives love.
A WIGGLY BOOTY
One of my favorite things in the world is asking Hank if he wants to go for a walk, and then watching his excitement skyrocket until he just can’t contain his joy. The adorable doggy butt wiggles are one way of expressing love, says Jessa Paschke, a pet behavioralist with Mars Petcare. “When dogs are with those they love, their body language typically becomes relaxed and very wiggly,” she explains. Show your fur baby some love in return by giving him some extra butt scratches.
A BIG OL’ GRIN
If your favorite humans are happy, chances are, they’re grinning from ear to ear. It turns out, dogs really do express emotion using their faces, too. According to Paschke, “dogs will also show very soft, almond-shaped eyes, and may even ‘smile’ when in the company of their loved ones.” Praise your very good boy in your most loving voice, and he’s sure to feel the love right back.
“If your dog brings you one of their favorite toys and drops it at your feet, it’s likely they are giving it to you as a gift,” says Dr. Whitney Miller, director of veterinary medicine at Petco. “Sharing their favorite things is one way they demonstrate love.” Take a few moments to toss the toy around so that you get some good bonding time, and your pup will be sure to know she’s the love of your life.
HE NEVER LEAVES YOUR SIDE
Does your dog always “protect” you when you’re in the bathroom? This may seem annoying and invasive to you, but Dr. Goetz says this means your little shadow truly loves you. Whether or not you decide to enforce a “no dogs in the bathroom” rule is totally your call, but just know that the nosiness comes from a place of love.
TAKING NAPS WITH YOU
“Although all animals are individuals, dogs show love by their affection, wanting to be close with and commune with their family,” explains Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, a dog trainer, behavioralist, and CEO of Fun Paw Care. In my opinion, cuddles are one of the absolute best parts of being a dog mom, and it turns out that if your pup loves to sleep next to you, that’s a sure sign that she loves you, too.
GIVING YOU *ALL* THE KISSES
According to Dr. Angela Hughes, DVM, PhD, a veterinary genetics research manager at Wisdom Health, your pup’s wolf ancestors would lick their mothers’ faces to indicate that they were hungry. “The modern dog uses this instinct to let us know that they care about us and are not a threat,” she tells Elite Daily. “They will also do it as an act to groom you, which is another way to show intimacy.” If your dog seems to love physical touch like this, shower her with belly rubs and head scratches.
JUMPING ALL OVER YOU
Is there anything better than coming home from a stressful day at work to an angelic puppy jumping all over you because he missed you so much? Not in my book.
Even if this is something you find more annoying than endearing, according to Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert, for dogs, jumping to greet their owner is an instinctive display of affection and shows how excited they are to be reunited with their favorite human.
JUST SPENDING TIME TOGETHER
Bottom line: If your adorable dog wants to spend every second of her day with you, she loves you. Spending one-on-one time with your pup — whether you go for a long walk, hit the dog park, or just cuddle up for a long Friends marathon — hanging out together is a great way to make sure your fur baby is feeling extra loved on Feb. 14.