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How to Tell if Your Dog Really Loves You (or Just Wants Treats)

Dogs make for some of the most loyal and loving pets. Their warm affection provides comfort and companionship. But how exactly do dogs show their love for their owners? While dogs can’t speak words of love, they communicate their feelings through their actions. This guide will explore some of the most common signs that show your dog truly loves and cares for you. From excited greetings to gentle gazes, dogs have numerous endearing ways of expressing their devotion. While each dog has their own unique personality, these behaviors often indicate that your pup sees you as their most favorite person. Understanding and recognizing your dog’s expressions of love will help you bond more deeply with your furry friend.

Excited Greeting

One of the clearest signs that your dog loves you is how excited they get when you come home after being away. As soon as they hear you at the door, most dogs will come running over, barking and jumping up, eager to greet you. They may spin in circles or bring you a toy, their bodies wiggling with pure joy. Some dogs even whine or “talk” as you walk in, as if catching you up on their day.

This over-the-top, enthusiastic welcome shows how much they missed you while you were gone. Dogs are pack animals who bond very closely with their family. So after just a short separation, they can’t wait to reunite with their favorite human. The strength of your dog’s reaction often depends on the dog’s personality and breed characteristics. But in general, the more excited the greeting, the deeper their devotion. So if your dog acts like they just won the lottery every time you walk in the door, you can rest assured you have their unwavering love and loyalty.


Dogs love to cuddle up close to their favorite people. When your dog comes over unprompted and presses his body against your leg or nudges under your hand to be petted, it’s a sure sign that he feels a close bond with you.

Some dogs will go as far as sitting on your lap or leaning their entire weight against your torso. By seeking this close physical contact and warmth from you, your pup is expressing his affection, trust and contentment. He feels safe and secure when cuddling with his special person.

Certain breeds that have been bred as companion dogs are especially fond of cozying up with their owners. Lapdogs like Chihuahuas, Maltese, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels seem to crave human touch and enjoy nothing more than curling up in their person’s lap.

Bigger dogs enjoy snuggling too, even if they can’t fit in your lap. Large breeds like Greyhounds and Great Danes will often lean against you while you sit or lie beside you when you’re resting to soak up your attention through petting and stroking.

So the next time your pooch hops up on the couch and presses against your side or lays his head in your lap, know that he’s telling you in his own sweet way that you’re his favorite person to cuddle with. Having a dog who wants to snuggle shows he feels safe, loved and bonded with you.

Gazing Deeply into Your Eyes

One of the sweetest signs that your dog loves you is when they look deeply into your eyes. When your dog stares at you, maintaining eye contact, it indicates affection, attention, and attachment. Dogs are good at reading human eye contact and gazing behavior. Prolonged eye contact between dogs and their owners releases oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” which strengthens your bond.

Eye contact is also your dog’s way of non-verbally communicating with you. It shows they are interested in connecting. Your dog may gaze at you to signal things like wanting to go outside, getting your attention, asking for food, or just expressing happiness at seeing you. When you lock eyes with your dog, they feel safe, understood, and emotionally bonded. If your dog tends to hold eye contact with you for long periods, consider it a sign of true canine connection and love.


Dogs show affection by licking for a number of reasons. Licking releases pleasurable endorphins which can help strengthen the bond between a dog and its owner. When dogs lick each other, it’s a way to reinforce social hierarchies and relationships.

Licking is also thought to be a grooming behavior leftover from puppyhood. When puppies are young, their mother licks them to clean them and stimulate bowel movements. Puppies also lick their mother to encourage milk letdown during nursing. The licking remains into adulthood as a sign of affection.

Some dogs lick their owners’ faces because it’s a habit learned from puppyhood. Puppies lick their mother’s lips to get her to regurgitate food. So if your dog licks your face, they may be trying to get you to “return the favor” with kibble or a treat!

While humans perceive licking as a sign of affection, there may also be an element of dominance involved. Licking can represent a social hierarchy, with dominant dogs licking subordinates more often than the reverse.

Either way, a lick from your dog is a good indication they trust you and consider you part of their pack. Next time your dog licks you, take it as confirmation they love you! Just be sure to avoid letting them lick your mouth, as those mouth bacteria in dog saliva can make you sick.

Tail Wagging

A wildly wagging tail is one of the clearest signs that a dog is happy and excited to see you. But not all tail wags are created equal. Dogs can actually wag their tails in different ways to communicate different emotions. Here are some of the different types of tail wags and what they mean:

  • Loose, wide wags – This is the typical happy wag. When a dog’s tail is wagging in wide, sweeping motions, it means they are very happy and enthusiastic. It’s often accompanied by other signs of excitement like jumps or running around.
  • Tight, quick wags – These tense wags often indicate anxiety, concern, or even fear. It can mean the dog is feeling threatened or insecure about something. Quick wags with the tail held lower can be a sign of submission as well.
  • A slight, gentle wag – Subtle, gentle wags are a sign of a content, relaxed dog. Their tail moves just enough to express their calm happiness.
  • Wagging just the tip – Sometimes dogs will wag mostly just the tip of their tail. This can be a tentative wag, suggesting slight excitement or interest. It’s less intense than a full tail wag.
  • Lopsided wags – When a dog wags more to one side, it may indicate conflicted emotions. It can mean they are happy but also confused or unsure about something.
  • Stiff, still tail – No wag at all can also communicate. A stiff, motionless tail often indicates a dog who is alert, focused, or tense about something.

So pay attention to all aspects of your dog’s tail wags. A wagging tail always shows some level of happiness, but the speed, breadth, and height of the wag can reveal a range of deeper emotions and messages. The tail is like another language you can learn.

Being Nearby

Dogs are pack animals and see their owners as part of their pack. This means they feel most comfortable when they are close to their “pack members.” If your dog likes to follow you from room to room or lay at your feet, this is a strong sign of affection and bonding. Dogs will often “shadow” their owners and want to be near them at all times. They take comfort in your presence and companionship. If you get up and walk to another room, don’t be surprised if your dog gets up and follows you, not wanting to be separated. Some dogs will even wait outside the bathroom door!

This tendency to shadow their owners shows how much they rely on you for security and friendship. Dogs that are indifferent to their owners will not care about staying nearby. The fact that your dog wants to be close by your side whenever possible is a clear sign that you make them feel safe and loved. It strengthens your bond and shows they value your company.


Dogs often act protective of their human pack members. This shows they feel a strong bond with you. Some signs of protectiveness include:

  • Barking or growling at strangers who approach or enter your home. Your dog is letting the stranger know they need to be careful around their loved one.
  • Getting between you and a stranger. Your dog will physically place themselves between you and someone unfamiliar. This shows they’re ready to defend you if needed.
  • Staying close in public places. If your dog feels uneasy about strangers when you’re out, they may stick right by your side or lean against you.
  • Not wanting unfamiliar people to pet them. Dogs who are very protective may not even let strangers touch them, because their main concern is guarding you.
  • Protecting you from perceived threats. Your dog may bark at anything that seems “off” to them, like a weird noise or shadow. They’re being alert in case it’s a sign of danger.
  • Sleeping by your door. Protective pups often choose to sleep as close to you as possible, and facing the entry points to watch for intruders.

So if your dog shows any of these protective behaviors, take it as reassurance that they love you and consider themselves your fierce defender! It’s a sweet sign that they feel strongly bonded to you.


One of the most endearing ways dogs show love and affection is through play. When your dog brings you their favorite toy and entices you to play, that’s a sign of their trust and bond with you. The silly antics and play bows dogs make when playing tug-of-war or fetch show that they feel completely relaxed and happy with you. It’s also a social activity that brings you closer together. Play activates bonding hormones like dopamine and serotonin in both you and your dog.

Some scientists believe that the roughhousing and physical play you share with your dog is a way they practice important skills. It’s similar to the way wolf cubs playfight with their siblings. Dogs that have regular playtime with you are less likely to have behavior issues because they can get out their energy in a healthy way.

So when your dog nudges their ball toward you or brings you a rope toy looking for some playtime, recognize that as an expression of their love. They feel safe with you, want to engage with you, and build a closer connection through play. Fostering this loving bond will make both you and your dog happier.


In conclusion, the biggest signs that your dog truly loves you are easily noticeable when you pay attention to their behavior. An excited greeting when you get home, cuddling up next to you, gazing into your eyes, licking your hand or face, and energetic tail wags all demonstrate your pup’s affection. Your dog also shows love by always wanting to be near you, being protective and playful. While dogs may not say “I love you” in words, their actions speak volumes. The special bond between dogs and their owners is powerful. Dogs provide unconditional love and their desire to be close to you shows how much they care. Recognizing the signs that your faithful companion loves you will make your bond even stronger. Nurturing that relationship with your dog through play, walks, cuddles, and quality time together is one of the most rewarding things a dog owner can do. Your dog’s love for you is a gift to be treasured.

Editor Staff

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