Does my dog really love me?

Author picture Angelika

Does my dog really love me or just want food?

Although your dog is dependent on you for food, water and shelter, scientific evidence suggests dogs do love us as much as we love them. 

Happy beagle getting patted

For a dog, smell is the most important sense for experiencing the world. Scans of doggy brains have shown that the caudate nucleus (the part of the brain that lights up during pleasurable experiences) is activated when a dog smells their owner. This is similar to the way the human brain lights up when we are around a loved one. Furthermore, this part of the brain lit up the most when exposed to the scent of a person the dog knew - even more than the smell of another dog!   

Domestic dogs have been faithful companions to humans for thousands of years, so their behaviour is intertwined with our own. For example, dogs make perfect family pets because they thrive in a stable, social environment. Any dog owner might instinctively feel love from their dog, but how can you tell?  

What are signs that my dog really does love me?

There are many ways to tell that your dog really does love you through their body language and behaviour. How many of these does your dog do?

1. Your dog loves you if they wag when they see you

A mid-height wagging tail (the kind that makes your dog's whole body shake) is a giveaway that your dog loves you. A wagging tail means your dog is happy and relaxed to see you!

Bear in mind that a wagging tail can indicate negative feelings such as fear, especially when it's very low or tucked between the legs. Therefore, a confident, broad tail wag shows that it's true canine love.

2. Your dog loves you if they lick your face

There is a lot going on behind the behaviour of a dog licking.

For example, mother dogs groom and comfort their pups with their tongues. Likewise, a friendly lick can also be a sign of submission or trust between members of a dog pack. As such, we can take this as a sign of comfort and connection between your dog and you. 

Owner holding dog

3. Your dog loves you if they give you eye contact

A dog's facial expression and eye gaze show a lot about how they're feeling about you. If your dog beams up at you with a relaxed, open mouth and raised eyebrows, then you can bet that’s the face of love. 

Remember, body language is always in context. This happy expression is distinct from eye contact from a nervous or aggressive dog. 

4. Your dog loves you if they cuddle up to you

Wild dogs sleep curled up together to stay warm and safe.

As such, your dog sees you as a beloved companion if they love leaning on you or curling up close. So whether your dog leans on you on the couch or snuggles in bed, cuddle them back and they'll know it's mutual!

5. Your dog loves you if they greet you at the door

There's nothing like the delight of a dog greeting you at the door after a long day at work - it can be a real boost to your self-esteem!

The sheer joy of seeing you can be read loud and clear. You are a member of your dog’s family and to have you home again means all is well in the world.

6. Your dog loves you if they try to comfort you

Evidence suggests that dogs may attempt to comfort their owners they appear distressed – even for no self-comfort or gain.

Has your dog ever snuggled up when you were crying or bought a favourite chewed-up toy when you were sick in bed? It's possible this is because a dog can recognize that you are unwell and might need a little TLC. We think this is surely the sweetest thing in the world!

Every dog is unique and shows love in its own way. How does your doggo show they love you?