How Do Dogs Show Affection?

By John Martin - July 17, 2022

Dog showing affection to owner

Humans have loads of ways by which they can show their affection for their four-legged friends, from a cuddle to a treat or a belly rub. But you may wonder how dogs show affection in return.

Right from subtle gestures like looking at you with their expressive eyes to exuberant displays of affection like jumping up at you and licking your face, your pooch has numerous ways of showing that they care.

Here are some ways in which dogs show their love and affection.

Tail Wagging

Your pet’s tail conveys many different emotions such as happiness, fear, aggression or tension. But when your pooch’s tail starts wagging wildly and uncontrollably, it is definitely a sign of a happy dog.

The tail doing a full-body wag held at mid-level is a signal that your dog is very excited and happy to see you. The tail held to the right side is a sign that your dog is comfortable and they love and trust you.

Making Eye Contact

When your dog makes eye contact with you, it is a sign of affection and trust and your pet’s way of telling you that they love you.

According to studies, when a dog makes deep eye contact with their human, their brain releases oxytocin (the love hormone associated with affection and attachment that is released by the mother’s brain when they are bonding with their babies), strengthening the bond between your pet and you.

But it is important to ensure that you maintain natural eye contact with your pet because if you force eye contact or stare for very long, this is bound to make your dog uncomfortable.

Jumping

Although most times, pet owners find their pets jumping on them rather annoying and they teach their dogs not to jump up, this is one of the main ways that your pet displays their affection.

Jumping up and trying to lick your face is your pet’s way to convey that they have missed you when you are away and that they are excited and happy to see you. And they show their affection and love for you by enthusiastically jumping up at you.

Leaning

If you’re sitting on the couch or the floor, your dog may lean on you. This may be a sign that your pet is nervous or scared about something and is leaning on you for protection.

Or, leaning on you may be your pet’s way of showing that they trust you completely. If your dog is leaning into you with soft eyes, a slightly open mouth and a wagging tail, it means that they are calm and relaxed.

Whatever may be the reason, leaning on you makes your pet feel safe and secure and is a way to show their affection for you. For dogs, leaning is similar to a full-body hug.

Following You Around

Since dogs are pack animals, they love company. They want to be in any place that their humans are and will follow you around wherever you go.

When you are away from your pet, especially for long periods of time, they can get quite anxious and may even suffer from separation anxiety. Being around you makes your dog feel safe, secure and at peace, as you represent security for your pet.

Licking

Licking is an instinctive behavior for dogs. When they are puppies, they are usually licked by their mother to ensure that they are clean and also to make them feel secure and protected.

Dogs lick the faces of their humans as a way of showing their love and affection for them. This may also mean that they respect you as their pack leader.

Your dog may also lick you to get your attention if they want something or if they are anxious and stressed about something.

Bringing You Toys

Your dog may bring you their prized possessions and their favorite toys and this may not always be a sign that your pet wants to play with you.

This may mean that your pooch sees you as the pack leader and is offering you their valuable belongings as a way of showing their affection and respect for you.

Your furry friend may also bring their broken toys and other objects as a way of showing you their trust that you will be able to mend them.

Sometimes, your dog may bring gifts from your yard such as dead animals, birds or rodents that they may have found or killed.

It is simply your pet’s way of demonstrating their love for you. So, instead of scolding or punishing your pet for their behavior, praise them and cuddle them.

Nudging

If you’ve left your dog alone at home for a long time, he may welcome your return and greet you by nudging you with his nose as an affectionate greeting to say that he missed you.

He may also nudge you to simply get your attention or feel secure. Your dog may nudge you if they want you to move over or if they want something.

And, as long as your pet’s behavior is not obsessive or excessive, nudging is simply another way for your pet to communicate with you.

Rolling Over

If your pooch is lying next to you with their belly exposed and looking at you goofily, you can be sure that your pet simply adores you.

And, if they flop over onto their back and want a belly rub, just like leaning on you, rolling over means that your furry friend trusts you a lot and is completely relaxed around you.

Sighing

After a long, tiring day, when you curl up on your couch or settle in bed in your comforter, the sigh of relaxation and being comfortable is exactly what dogs do too.

And, when your dog lays down by your side or cuddles up on your lap and lets out a huge sigh as they start snoozing, it shows that your pet is happy and comfortable.

Vocalizations such as soft sighs and groans are signs that your pooch is feeling content and safe.

Sleeping Nearby

When they are young, puppies usually snuggle up with each other for warmth and security. And, even in the wild, dogs sleep together in packs.

And, even as your puppy grows older, they would like to sleep as close to you as possible (preferably in your bed).

And, if your dog wants to sleep curled up at your feet or in your bedroom, it means that they consider you as a member of their pack, they trust you and want to be as close to you as possible.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Lay On Me And Sleep?

Following You Around

You may find that your dog is like your shadow following you around wherever you go, even to the bathroom. This can be extremely cute, as well as annoying, to find your furry friend lounging around, tripping you up wherever you go.

Your dog may be following you for various reasons. They may be hungry, may want something or just plain bored or it may be your pet’s way of displaying their loyalty and love for you.

Also, since dogs are pack animals and love company, they want to be wherever their human is and in a way, by following you around, they feel that they are protecting you.

Smiling

If you think that your 4-legged friend has a big goofy grin on their face, they probably do. And, nothing can be cuter than your furry pooch looking at you with its smiley face and mischievous eyes.

Studies show that dogs can have a range of different facial expressions that mirror their emotions.

Right from frowning to sad, longing or smiling, dogs make use of their facial expressions to communicate their love and their need for your love and attention.

A smiley face is simply your dog’s way of communicating that they are completely happy and relaxed around you and your pet’s way of showing affection.

Herding

This is a common behavior seen in herding dog breeds such as Australian Shepherds and Border Collies, where they try to herd their humans.

This is because your pooch loves you and since they consider you as their leader, they are simply trying to protect you.

And, if you’re walking in a large group, your pet will try to keep the family/pack together if they feel that you’re wandering away.

Roughhousing

Roughhousing can be a great way to bond with your pet and an essential part of your pet’s social development. It is a great way to work off your pet’s pent-up energy and also a sign of love and affection.

But you must ensure that the rough play does not go too far. Make sure to teach your pet that behaviors like biting, barking and swiping are unacceptable.

Guarding You

By nature, dogs are quite protective of things that they love, especially their humans. And, although there may be no real threat, your pet may guard you when you eat or relax. Guarding you is a sign that your pet feels that you belong to their pack.

Your dog may sit next to your table, facing away from you and guard you while you eat. But most vets warn pet owners to discourage this type of guarding behavior, as it may lead to your pet developing behavioral issues or becoming extremely territorial.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Protect Me From My Husband?

Rubbing Their Face on Yours

Just like dogs show their affection by nose nudging, they may rub their face on yours to show their affection for you.

Typically, dogs indulge in this sort of face rubbing behavior to communicate with other dogs and may do the same with you. Also, by rubbing their face on yours, they are marking you as their own.

But if you find that your pooch seems to be rubbing their face on all things around them, then it is recommended that you have them checked by the vet to ensure that your pet does not have a mite infestation or is suffering from some skin problem.

Comforting You When You’re Sad

Dogs are often in sync with their human’s emotions and respond if they feel that something is not right. Your pet can instinctively sense it if you’re sad about something.

And, if your pooch senses that you’re unhappy, they may try to comfort you by resting their head on your lap or shoulder, finding ways to snuggle or cuddle with you or simply lying down next to you and being close to you in some way.

This is your pet’s way of trying to comfort you and displaying their love for you.

Chewing Your Stuff

When you find your dog chewing your stuff, it is bound to make you really angry.

And, while you may not view this as an expression of their love for you, your pet loves chewing on your stuff be it your socks, slippers, T-shirt, sweater, etc. because they can smell your scent on all your belongings, which makes them feel safe, secure and comfortable.

And, when your pooch pulls up your things and chews them up, it is because your belongings remind your pet of you, which makes them excited and happy.

Checking on You Frequently

If you’re out walking your dog, you may notice your pet stopping frequently and looking back at you. This is because your pooch wants to ensure that you are safe and are keeping up with them.

Your furry friend loves you and considers you as part of their pack and wants to make sure that you’re not left behind. Checking on your whereabouts frequently is your pooch’s way of showing their affection.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Like Mud So Much?

Wrapping Up

Dogs are loyal and loving pets. And, just like humans show their love in myriad ways for their pets, dogs too have a wide variety of ways by which they communicate their love and affection for their humans.

And, we hope that after reading this article, you understand the various ways that your pooch shows that they love you unconditionally, leading to a stronger bond between you and your pet.