There's a lot to love about dogs. They're loyal, cuddly, and bring their fair share of laughs into any home. They make for the perfect walking companion and are pretty much always down to ride shotgun in your car so you don't have to drive alone... even if you're going somewhere as boring as the pharmacy. It's not hard to figure out how or why to love a pup, but it's slightly more challenging to determine how a canine feels about
you. In an effort to help you do this, I've done a little research on a few sure signs your dog really loves you, and of course, consulted an expert.
Dr. Ashley Randall DVM, owner of the West End Animal Wellness Center in Atlanta, Georgia, dogs do in fact have emotional feelings, and have they have their own way of showing us. “Some dogs can even actually smile!” she says. Dogs are so cute and wonderful and perfect that reciprocity probably isn't required for you to continue to love your pet — but it sure won't hurt to get some confirmation that the affection goes both ways. And while any one of these 10 cues can give you the proof you're looking for, you can also rely on your instincts (appropriately, just like your dog would). If your pup loves you, you're going to feel it in your gut.
Assuming you don't trust your gut, though, these specific signs will go a long way toward helping you better define the relationship with your dog.
Human-to-human, eye contact is considered a positive thing. When someone looks you directly in the eye, you can tell they are engaged and interested in what you have to say. Per
Vetstreet, canines don't perceive eye contact the same way within the species (other dogs might actually find it aggressive), but they do stare at their favorite humans as a sign of love and respect. When you can't see the whites of your dog's eyes, it means they're especially comfortable in your presence. “They use their eyebrows and facial muscles to make a plethora of faces. Whether they are happy, angry, or terrified, if you watch closely enough you will notice movements that indicate how they feel. When they are afraid, dogs tend to look away or ignore. If they are angry, they snarl and look directly into your eyes. The happy face is the best! Dogs look directly into your eyes; they smile and engage you,” says Randall. Tail Wagging
Conventional wisdom tells us that a wagging tail is the mark of a happy dog, and
iHeartDogs confirms that it's also a sign of affection toward a human. Relaxed dogs can more easily wag their tails, and dogs that are relaxed feel good about their owners. If a dog's muscles are stiff and its tail is still wagging, it could mean that he or she is annoyed or angry, and Dr. Randall is here to back it up: “Tail wagging can go either way! Dogs don’t always give a growl or warning when they are about to bite. Sometimes all they give is a tail wag and a focused stare.” So, be sure to keep that in mind. Yawning
Live Science study, dogs were more likely to yawn simultaneously with their owners than with a human stranger. The same study indicated that yawning can be a sign of empathy, so when your dog yawns right along with you, it might be a sign of affection. However, Dr. Randall has never heard of this sign. She believes that it is more of a sign of comfort than love. Another thing to look out for is constant yawning, Randall says. This could be a sign that your dog is sick, or something is wrong with its jaw. Lifting Their Eyebrows
Stop watching to see if your dog's tail is wagging and pay more attention to their facial expressions! In a
study in Japan, dogs immediately lifted their eyebrows (especially their left one) when they saw their owners. Those cute eyebrow wiggles are more than just, well, cute. They're a sign that your pup is happy to see you! And why wouldn't it be? Snuggling
A good canine cuddle is the stuff that dreams are made of, but actually it's so much more than that! Per
Vetstreet, you should feel really good about your relationship with your pup when they curl up with you. After all, they could choose to cuddle up and sleep anywhere, and they chose to be with you! Big Welcomes
Whether you've been away from home for 10 minutes or 10 days, your pooch freaks out — in a good way! — when you walk through the door. It should hardly come as a surprise that this kind of enthusiastic welcome is a demonstration of love, but
Rover's Daily Treat confirms it. Sleeping Next To You
iHeartDogs, dogs transfer the feelings they would have about their canine pack in the wild — remember, even domestic dogs are pack animals at heart — to the humans they love who have given them a home. Wolves naturally sleep huddled with their pack members in the wild, and your loving pet will likely demonstrate the same behavior with you and your family when they feel comfortable and safe. Smiling
If you've ever thought that your dog was smiling at you, you probably weren't imagining it. And your dog wasn't just doing something random with the corners of his mouth!
Vetstreet notes that a dog's open and relaxed mouth — or smile! — indicates that he or she is feeling happy and affectionate. Dr. Randall confirms that dogs, can, in fact, smile. Next time your pupper makes a smiling face, you can indeed confirm that it may be a smile. It’s backed up by a doctor now, thank you very much. Leaning Against You
Canidae, "your pet may lean against you because he feels anxious, wants something, wants to cuddle, or is looking for some extra comfort or security. Whatever the reason, leaning against you makes your dog feel safe and secure, and it's another way of showing his love." Cue the "awwww!" Stealing Your Clothes
extremely annoying to have to chase your pup down the hallway as he or she runs away with your socks or underwear, but you might feel differently when you hear that this kind of thievery is actually a gesture of adoration. Dogs experience the world through scent, so when they love you, they love your smell! To hang on to that smell, they may steal your clothes, according to Puppy Leaks.