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How can I tell my dog I love him?

9 Ways To Tell Your Dogs You Love Them In Their Own Language


Pup parents know that our dogs love us deeply, even though they do not express it in the same manner as humans do. Recently, behavioral research saddened dog lovers when it showed that most dogs don’t like to be hugged.

That’s not to say that our pups don’t enjoy receiving affection; they live for our love and approval! Try showing them your devotion in a language they can understand.

man and dog bonding

1. Gaze Deeply Into Their Eyes

Dr, Brian Hare, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University topped the NY Times bestseller list with his book, The Genius of Dogs. In an interview with Anderson Cooper this past Spring he told the dog-loving newsman that when your dog stares at you he is “hugging you with his eyes.”

This doesn’t mean you should stare deeply into the eyes of the dog that guards your local junkyard! Direct eye contact is still considered a challenge or threat in many situations. But with your own, trusted pet, try gazing into his eyes when the two of you are calmly relaxing.

Speak softly, stroke him gently, and maintain eye contact. According to Hare, these quiet moments stimulate the release of Oxytocin in the canine brain – the same hormone that bonds mother and child.

woman smiling at puppy

2. Raise Your Eyebrows

A Japanese study published in the September 2013 volume of Behavioral Processes found that dogs raise their eyebrows – especially the left one – when greeted by their owners. Using a high-speed camera, they scrutinized the facial movements of the dogs when seeing their owners vs. seeing strangers.

When the strangers came along to greet them, the test dogs displayed far less facial activity and most of it was right-sided. The significance is that the right brain controls the left side of the face and is tied to emotion, while the left brain controls the right side of the face and is tied to analytical behaviors.

The more facial activity you display when greeting your dog, the more they know they are loved. If you are able to raise one eyebrow (sadly, I cannot) then make it the left one. Your pup will really feel special!

Woman shaking dog's paw

3. Lean on Them

Not just figuratively, actually press your weight against your dog physically. Not to the point where he feels cornered (or crushed!) just a little to show that you trust him. This is something our pups do to display their affection for us that is often overlooked.

Have you ever had your pooch press up against the backs of your legs while you’re busy in the kitchen? That’s a type of dog hug! Try giving him one right back.

10 ways to tell your dog you love him

Just like humans, dogs and other pets have emotions running deep. You will observe how much your dog is so excited and happy to be around you. That’s because he loves you, but he might not be able to express love in like manner as humans do.

But do you know dogs do not like being hugged? Yea, recent behavioral research has shown that not everything you do is accepted by your dog. The question is how do you tell your dog you love him? You need to express your love and affection to your pup in a language that they can understand easily.


We’ve compiled some simple ways to tell your dog you love him. Check them out below:

1. Lean on him

Sometimes your dog can lean into you or press up against your legs when you sit together. Don’t ever push him away because, at this point, he seeks your affection. More so, that’s the doggie kind of hug. You can simply lean on him too to show that you love him so much.

Don’t only lean briefly, but stay there as long as the dog feels comfortable, but make sure not to press in too much to avoid discomfort.

2. Stare into his eyes

Eye contact is one of the effective ways we humans express our feelings and affections. But not only humans appreciate this, but also our furry friends. When you gaze into your dog’s eyes, softly speaking to him and petting his back, he feels so loved and safe in your care.

However, you should only do this to a dog that knows and trusts you. A dog that you do not have a good relationship with will most likely interpret this gesture as a challenge or threat. And you know sometimes, a furious dog may attack you in self-defense. So watch it!

3. Rub his ears

Have you observed how a dog melts into a ball of doggy happiness when you give him a gentle rub behind his ears? That’s simply because you stimulate the release of endorphins-hormones that bring on a feeling of pleasure and relieve stress.

So instead of patting the top of your pup’s head to show him you love him, you can rub the back of his ears and he will get the message of love. You can do whenever you are alone with your pup; he may even fall asleep in the process.


4. Snuggle

Dogs surely love to cuddle, but they do not like being hugged. They are park animals and they feel safe and secure in close contact. You can show your dog you love him by allowing him to sleep close to you.

Remember! Your sleep time is your most vulnerable time, and allowing your pooch to lie calmly close to you is the ultimate display of affection and trust. But if you don’t want your dog on your bed, you can still show him love by snuggling up with him in a cozy corner or on the couch. He’ll definitely get your message of true love.

5. Raise your eyebrow

Do you know that dogs raise their eyebrows to show emotions or analyze a situation? Yea, a Japanese study published in 2013 showed that dogs usually raise their left eyebrows when greeted by their owners. Isn’t that interesting? The study scrutinized the facial movements of dogs when greeting by their owner vs strangers.

The dogs displayed less facial activity when greeted by strangers and most of it was right-sided- because the left brain controls the right side of the face, and it is connected with analytical behaviors. But the right side of the brain controls the right part of the face, and it is connected to emotions. Little wonder the dogs raised their left eyebrows when greeted by their owners.

Try to practice raising your left eyebrow and watch how your pup will feel so special. Yea, facial activity is a good way to tell your dog you love him.

6. Be yourself

A lot of people do not know that dogs read their voice, body language and action. This is one of the ways they know you truly love them.

Yea, it may be hard to know what your dog is thinking, but trust me, he reads your emotions. So don’t try to show fake feelings around your dog.

Be yourself and keep doing what you normally do. This way, your dog will reward you by showing you special affection in his own way.

7. Have fun together

Dogs love adventures, so you can take some time each day to do things that excite your dog. You can try new tricks or practice activities that he already knows.

Think of it, when you play and have fun with your kids, how do they feel? So happy and safe with you right? That’s the same way your dog feels when you have fun together.

You can teach your dog something fun using positive techniques like “spin,” “sit pretty,” or “take a bow” These can be pretty rewarding for you both.

More so, you can take your dog down to the park or to your backyard for a game of Frisbee. You can also fetch with his favorite toy to make him run around freely. This way, you’re not only telling your dog you love him, but you’re also giving him a chance to exercise to remain strong and healthy.


8. Allow your dog to express himself

When your dog turns his head away, showing the white edges of his eyes, that’s enough warning for you to either back-off or allow him into a less-stressful place. Sometimes, your dog may lick his lips and walk away. He needs his space at that moment.

You need to respect your dog’s emotions if you want to show him you love him wholeheartedly. If we as humans experience behaviors like throwing punches, gossiping, rudeness- and move on without conflict, we should also tolerate our furry friend’s aggression.

The truth is that your dog would always give you these warning signals before displaying actions like biting or snapping. Respect your dog and if his emotions escalate, make sure you respect that too.

More so, if you try to suppress your dog’s warning, he may see it as an act of hatred and can lead to your dog growling and biting you eventually.

9. Put your phone down

How do you feel when you try to communicate with a friend or your spouse and they bury their heads into their phone throughout? Unhappy or unloved, isn’t it? Same feeling your dog gets when you stare at your phone during times together.

A good way to show your dog you love him is to give him 100 percent of your attention, whether you are on a walk or snuggling on the sofa. This helps build a healthy relationship between you and your furry friend.

10. Foster their innate drive for food

How you feed your dog matters a lot in building their instincts. Yeah, you can foster your dog’s instinctual food drive by keeping pet-friendly treats on hand when you are with him. You can easily keep them engaged and interact with them this way, especially in between meals.


Your dog may not be able to speak, but he understands your act of love through your body language and actions. So if you want to tell your dog you love him, do not hug him (except it leans in first), but use the tips highlighted above which prove that you really care.

9 Ways to Show Your Dogs That You Love Them

man cuddling a dog

We all want our dogs to know that we love them. However, they can’t speak our language, and some things that we humans consider love signals may be off-putting to dogs. Understanding dog body language is important for communicating with our pups.

Here, we’ve listed several ways that you can let your dog know that they are loved. Many of these are simple adjustments in the ways that you interact with your canine. While they don’t take much time or effort, they can help you communicate your love a bit more clearly.

The 9 Best Ways to Show Your Dog You Love Them Are:

1. Give Kisses

boy kissing his dog

Surprisingly, many dogs seem to enjoy human kisses. While dogs obviously don’t engage in this behavior themselves, there is evidence that kisses from their owners are linked to a rise in oxytocin levels in dogs. In other words, when dogs get kissed, they are a bit happier.

That said, you probably shouldn’t go around kissing every dog you meet. Not only is it unsanitary, but some dogs may also interpret the closeness of your face as a threat. However, if you’re already with a dog that you know and love, you probably don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to kissing. Plus, your dog might enjoy the attention.

We’re often told to avoid things like kisses and hugs when interacting with our dogs. While none of these things are natural behaviors for our dogs, domestic canines have evolved next to people for thousands of years. They’ve had a chance to get used to how humans do things, so many of them are much better at understanding us than you may think. Dogs have even evolved to eat a diet similar to humans because that’s what was most available to their ancestors.

If you’re looking to show your dog that you love them, consider adding a few gentle kisses to your cuddle sessions.

2. Schedule in Cuddles

woman cuddles dog

When we get busy, it is easy to forget to pay attention to your dog. We recommend scheduling a regular cuddle time. Preferably, this should be tied to something that you already do. For instance, you may want to stay in bed for an extra 10 minutes for early-morning cuddles, or you can cuddle your dog while you watch the evening news. New habits are often easier to form if we attach them to a habit that is already there.

This schedule ensures that your dog always gets at least a bit of attention, even on days where you’re too busy for much else. The extra cuddles can be important for your wellbeing too, since physical affection with dogs is known to lower a human’s stress levels.

3. Ensure That Your Dog Has Plenty of Mental Stimulation

border collie puppy practicing tricks

Everyone knows that most dogs need physical exercise. While some dogs are more energetic than others, they all need to move around at least a little bit each day. However, dogs also need to exercise their mind. Again, this varies from breed to breed. More intelligent breeds need quite a bit of mental stimulation to stay happy. Otherwise, they may try to make their own fun, which often leads to destructive behavior. If you’re wondering why your dog insists on digging out of the fence, this is probably the answer.

The easiest way to ensure that your canine gets enough mental stimulation is to take part in obedience training and plenty of playtime. Training sessions are a great way to bond with your pet and exercise their brain. Many dogs will master the basic commands in only a few months, so you’ll likely need to move onto tricks and more involved commands. If you’re interested in canine sports, that is a great option as well.

When you’re gone, you can provide them mental stimulation with puzzle toys. These often require mental power for the dogs to figure out, so they’re great for keeping them entertained when you aren’t home.

4. Listen to Your Dog

girl hugging akita

While our dogs obviously don’t talk, they do try to communicate through body language. The best way to love a dog is to pay attention to what they’re attempting to tell us. This can help you respond to their cues easier, which will make your communication much more efficient.

Dog language is often more complicated than most people think. For example, while many people interpret panting as a sign that their dog is hot, it can also be a pain response or a sign of anxiety. Understanding the sometimes confusing parts of dog language can help you respond to your dog more appropriately.

There are many resources out there for learning about dog body language. However, you should be careful when choosing which resource you use, as there is a great deal of misconception out there. For instance, it is common for resources to state that eye contact with a dog is a sign of dominance. However, this has been long disproven. In fact, dominance theory in general has been disproven, even among wolves and similar wild canines.

5. Use Your Face

woman looking at her doberman

Studies have shown that dogs are good at reading human facial expressions. This is a result of thousands of years of evolution spent next to humans. Therefore, if you show your dog that you love them with your face, they’re likely to understand.

Of course, dogs are also likely to tell if you’re faking your facial expressions. You probably aren’t going to fool your dog into thinking that you’re laidback and calm when you aren’t. That said, don’t be afraid to let your dog know how you feel with your facial expressions.

6. Schedule Playtime

dog and man playing tug of war

Dogs are fairly specific about whom they play with, especially as they get older. Playing can be a considerable bonding activity for many dogs, especially if they tend to be more energetic and playful to begin with.

While you may not feel like playing after a long day at work, even a few minutes can be all your dog needs to feel loved. Consider having a regular rotation of toys as well, which helps keep them fresh and new for longer. After your dog hasn’t seen a toy in a few weeks, they’ll likely consider it to be completely new.

7. Go on Walks

a labrador walking with his owner in the park

While many dogs need walks for physical exercise, these can also be great for bonding with your pooch. One of the best ways for different dogs to bond is through shared walks. The same is true for people and dogs. You’re also taking care of your dog’s physical and mental needs while walking.

The most successful walks are those that go slowly so your dog can sniff around. While it may look like your dog is doing nothing when they’re sniffing, they’re actually using their brains quite a bit. This helps them meet their mental exercise needs, and they get to do it all with you!

8. Focus on Physical Affection

Young countryside woman cuddling her dog while lying among pumpkins

Physical affection is the easiest way to communicate love with your dog. There is a reason that our first instinct is to pet a dog — it is a sure sign of love and affection. Petting feels quite good to dogs, especially if you’re scratching in places that they can’t reach. It is like getting a massage for people. Oxytocin is released, which is the bonding and happiness chemical.

Simply scratching behind your dog’s ears when on a walk is an easy way to show them affection without adding much to your everyday routine. Remembering to pet your dog whenever you get the chance can go a long way to increase your bond and make your dog feel loved.

9. Use Proper Training Techniques

teaching a dog to lie down

There are many training methods out there. However, some are based on the outdated dominance theory, which has been disproven many times. Instead, you should rely on positive reinforcement for training. Attempting to assert dominance over your dog is likely only to result in confusion on your dog’s part, since this is a foreign concept to them. This can ruin your dog’s relationship with you and lessen how much your dog trusts you.

If you need help learning how to properly train your dog, there are many resources on the internet. If you want to use an in-person trainer, be sure you ask them about their training philosophy to ensure that they are following modern, science-based training techniques.

Featured Image Credit: ASDF_MEDIA, Shutterstock

  • The 9 Best Ways to Show Your Dog You Love Them Are:
    • 1. Give Kisses
    • 2. Schedule in Cuddles
    • 3. Ensure That Your Dog Has Plenty of Mental Stimulation
    • 4. Listen to Your Dog
    • 5. Use Your Face
    • 6. Schedule Playtime
    • 7. Go on Walks
    • 8. Focus on Physical Affection
    • 9. Use Proper Training Techniques
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