Facts about the animal kingdom

Do Dogs Know We Love Them?

Ricardo Luis Bruno
By Ricardo Luis Bruno, Veterinarian and ethologist. January 7, 2021
Do Dogs Know We Love Them?

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Can dogs understand that we love them by how we care for them and the affection we give them? Dogs are actually able to understand more than what we give them credit for. In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain how dogs know we love them.

We will also answer other questions related to this subject, such as how to tell your dog you love them, whether dogs actually understand kisses and how to tell if your dog is happy. Keep reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: Why do Dogs Tilt their Head When we Speak?
  1. Do dogs know we love them?
  2. How do I tell my dog I love him?
  3. Do dogs understand when you kiss them?
  4. How to know if a dog is happy

Do dogs know we love them?

Many caregivers wonder whether their dog can actually understand that they are loved. According to science the answer is yes. Dogs mentally understand you love them and that they are part of your family.

We especially know this because a dog's oxytocin level goes up when we look at them, and so do ours! This hormone is often referred to as the “love hormone” as it is normal to see its levels rise when humans have a child, however it also rises in romantic relationships. This is why this hormone is often associated with affection, empathy and trust.

This is what makes dogs feel loved when we look at them, call them softly or cuddle with them. Both of your levels of oxytocin rises making both of you, you and your dog, feel happy and loved!

Do Dogs Know We Love Them? - Do dogs know we love them?

How do I tell my dog I love him?

Now that we know that dogs can indeed understand our love, here are some things you can do to show your dog you love them:

  • Take them on a walk: dogs like to go out for a walk, and even more so with a member of their family with whom they have a strong social and emotional bond. So going for a walk with your dog is one of the best ways to show them how important they are to you and how much you love them.
  • Give them more freedom on walks: taking them out for a walk and giving them the freedom to sniff, mark a tree or socialize with other dogs is something that dogs will also appreciate. However, caregivers must also understand that this is also vital to the wellbeing of the dog.
  • Do not punish them: punishment, in addition to not being effective, can seriously damage the relationship between you and your dog, so it is always advisable to opt for positive reinforcement. Treating your dog with love and understanding will also be another way of making them understand that you love him.
  • Give them attention: your dog depends on you and will often call you or want your attention. To show your dog that you love and care for them it's very important that you give them the attention that they need. Keep in mind that each dog is different and some will need more attention than others.
  • Protect them from danger: your dog will look to you when they are frightened, whether it is lightening, fireworks, etc., they will need you to be there with them and let them know that everything will be okay. Don't leave them alone when they are scared.
  • Spending time with them: dogs are pack animals that enjoy being with their family all day. That's why it's important you spend time with them, not only when feeding them or taking them out for a walk, but also when you are relaxing.
  • Play with them: perhaps the most obvious thing you can do to make a dog feel loved is to play with them. When a dog associates their companion with entertaining moments of play, they will feel a deep bond with them. So don't forget to play with your dog today!
  • Give them affection: dogs need to cuddle and relax with you just as much as a child needs love from their parents. Your dog may even demand some affection at certain times when they are feeling particularly affectionate, happy or even sad and need some reinforcement. Give your dog affection to let them know they are loved and cared for.

Now you know how your dog knows that you love him, but... what about vice versa? In this other AnimalWised article we explain how to know if your dog loves you.

Do dogs understand when you kiss them?

Yes, dogs associate kisses with affection and love. If we give them kisses from a young age, they will understand that it is how we give affection. However, if a dog has never been given kisses and out of the blue received a kiss, they will most probably not understand what we mean by it as it is human behaviour, not canine.

If your dog isn't used to kisses, or doesn't really enjoy them, try to show them your love and affection by being close to them, talking softly and petting them gently. It always takes time for a dog to understand their companion and form a bond with them. You may also be wondering if dogs like being hugged.

How to know if a dog is happy

Lastly, how can we know if our dog is happy? Here are some common signs that your dog is happy:

  • They are playful and curious
  • They have a good appetite
  • They sleep enough hours
  • They demand affection
  • They give you affection in their own way
  • They pay attention to any changes
  • They interact with other dogs and humans on walks
  • Their body language demonstrates they're happy

Basically, they will show no behavioural issues and will be experiencing a happy and healthy lifestyle. For this, you will need to make sure all of their needs are met, this includes a healthy diet, plenty of walks throughout the day, play time, socialization and affection. You will also need to keep up with their regular veterinarian check-ups and also keep up with their deworming and vaccination schedule. By making sure our dog isn't ill, we ensure that they live a high quality life and can enjoy their life with us.

Watch our video below to learn more about how to make a dog happier!

If you want to read similar articles to Do Dogs Know We Love Them?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

  • Desmond Morris. (nineteen ninety six). Guide to understand dogs . Ed. EMECÉ.
  • Konrad Lorenz. (1985). Considerations on animal and human behavior . Ed. Planeta-Agostini.
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Do Dogs Know We Love Them?