“Does my dog know I love him?” That’s a question we hear from owners all the time. There’s no doubt that we love our dogs. We home them, we care for them, raise them from puppies, or take them in from a rescue center.
But dogs can’t directly communicate with us, and sometimes, we just want to know if all that love we’re handing out is being reciprocated. Dogs do understand humans, at least to an extent, and there’s no denying that they are emotional creatures, just like us (that’s why dogs and people get on so well!).
How much dogs can understand is always up for debate. After all, we don’t speak the same language. We can learn a little of the language of dogs, however – and don’t they say that the language of love is alway universal?
In this article, we ask, “Do dogs know you love them?” and explore how to show your dog you love them as well!
How Much Do Dogs Understand?
First of all, how much do dogs really understand? Does my dog know I love her when we can’t communicate on the same level and on the same terms?
The answer will surprise you, because dogs understand far more than they might lead you to believe. In fact, thousands of years of close cohabitation and selective breeding have actually left dogs and people to evolve side by side, so much so that our emotions and communication channels (although not always readily clear) are inextricably intertwined.
When we raise a dog from a puppy, we are also innately conditioning them to understand our actions and even our emotions. Dogs live with us from a young age, and they have the capacity to understand when we feel sad, when we are lonely, when we are excited, and when we are happy.
In fact, dogs often imitate human emotions. If you’re feeling grumpy, your dog is going to know about it. They are also going to spend most of their day avoiding you! Conversely, if you’re feeling happy and bounding around the house, your dog isn’t going to miss the chance to start running around chasing you.
We know that dogs understand a small number of words too, particularly when we train them to associate those words with positive (or negative) connotations. While the dog lexicon isn’t vast, they understand and communicate better through non-verbal channels, such as movement, tail wagging, jumping, running, or licking.
This is dog language, and learning dog language helps us to better communicate with and understand our dogs. It’s good for us, the owners, and it’s good for your dog’s mental well being if we can all communicate better together!
How to Say “I Love You” in Dog Language?
Before understanding if your dog knows you love them, you need to first be able to say “I love you” in dog language!
Dogs communicate with their owners through a variety of body movements and actions. If a dog is telling you that they love you, then they are likely to be wagging their tail and jumping around.
Of course, humans can’t wag their tail back, and you might not want to start jumping around the room. Dogs also use eye contact to express feelings, however, and this is one action that humans can reciprocate.
Dogs often stand and gaze (somewhat awkwardly) at their owners. This is an expression of love (or at least, a longing for some treats!). Humans can gaze back, using eye contact to express their own affection for their pet. This is the best way to demonstrate dog love in the language of dogs!
How Does My Dog Know I Love Him?
Owners can also express love to their dogs by showering them with affection (hugs, cuddles, even kisses). While this isn’t necessarily dog language, dogs do learn how to understand these actions from their earliest days as a puppy. They associate all that affection with happiness, and they learn what it means for a human to express their love to them.
You can continue to express your love in many different ways to your dog. Simply providing a home, shelter, food, and attention is more than enough. Dogs associate walking, exercise, and activity outside as a form of affection. They associate treats, particularly, as a way for humans to express their love (so keep feeding your dog its favorite, tasty treats!).
You can go out of your way with cuddles, you can set up a dog ramp for bed access to make it easier for your dog to share those cuddles, and you can invite your dog onto the sofa to watch TV with you. They love spending time with their owners, and it’s even thought that dogs spend their sleep time dreaming about their owners (if that’s not love, then we don’t know what is…).
In fact, scientists believe that both humans and dogs share a particular chemical hormone that is released when we feel love. This is how science can actually measure the depth of love that dogs have for humans (and vice versa!).
Do Dogs Understand When You Kiss Them?
If you’re wondering how to let your dog know you love them, then don’t be afraid to shower them in kisses. If you shower your puppy in kisses, it’s going to understand the association between kisses and the love of its owner.
This is a gesture that dogs come to appreciate and eventually long for. Dogs will try to reciprocate those kisses, but of course, this ends up with your dog trying to lick your face.
Don’t worry, though! This is just their way of showing affection towards you.
Do Dogs Get Sad or Depressed?
While dogs undoubtedly feel love and know that you love them, this also brings with it a huge range of other emotions you need to be aware of too.
Just as dogs feel loved, they can also become sad or depressed if they are separated from the owner that loves them. They miss that care, that attention, the cuddles, the treats, the communication, and the presence that their owners provide.
It’s important to be consistent in your expressions of love if you want to keep your dog happy. Don’t give them too many reasons to expect more than you can give, and don’t leave them on their own for too long without your care and attention. Mental health is important for dogs, as much as it is for their owners.
Dogs and humans can help each other remarkably in this respect by showing each other levels of unconditional love, which are rare to find elsewhere.
Does My Dog Know I Love Him? Yes!
Yes, your dog does know that you love them. They have impressive cognitive abilities, and as they grow up from a puppy, they begin to associate the expressions of care and affection that you shower upon them as what we call love.
Dogs are highly emotional: they can feel pain, sadness, loss, depression, happiness, joy, care, affection, and love. Because of this, it’s important for owners to try to understand their dog’s needs and their need for love, and to let them know that they are loved.
Loving a dog does take commitment, of course, but it’s worth it when you know exactly how to tell your dog you love them!
Why not bookmark our guide, so you can learn how to tell your dog you love him?