We love our dogs as if they were members of our families—because to us, they really are! We have a good feeling they love us, but it would be encouraging to know for sure. Sometimes it might feel like a one-sided relationship, but if your dog does these five things for you—consider it their way of saying, “I love you!”
#1 – Playing and Roughhousing With You
Ding ding, the match is on! If you’ve ever watched dogs playing at a dog park, you’ve probably noticed their favorite form of play looks a lot like wrestling. They jump on each other’s backs, pin their playmates to the ground, and some even use their paws and noses to push and prod. It can look intense, but this kind of roughhousing is perfectly normal and even encouraged. It gives dogs an outlet to let off steam, and as long as both sides know not to take it too seriously, it’s fun for everyone involved.
There’s always a level of trust that has to come with roughhousing with a friend. You have to know your partner isn’t going to take advantage of you, and you need to be comfortable enough around them to let loose. When your dog starts initiating this kind of play with you, consider it one of their greatest compliments. It can sometimes happen at an inopportune time, but it’s their way of telling you not only that they trust you, but that they think you’re super fun to be around. Doing a little wrestling with your pooch is certainly safe and fun, and it will even give you a new game to play to keep your relationship strong!
#2 – Sleeping With You
Dogs are pack animals, and in the wild, wolves and other canids sleep huddled together with their fellow pack members. They do it to take advantage of their buddy’s body heat, and it also helps them feel safe. There’s strength in numbers, and the time when they’re asleep is when a dog, wolf, and even human is at their most vulnerable. Even if the rest of their pack is also asleep, having a family willing to wake up and stand by their side in an emergency is something to value.
Your domesticated dog is a long way from sleeping in a den with 10 of their closest canines, but their wolf-life instincts are still there. If given the choice, many dogs will sleep close to their owners every night. They burrow under the blankets and take up way more room than seems physically possible, and love it or hate it, they can’t fall asleep without you. Part of this preferred sleeping arrangement might have something to do with the warmth and comfort of your bed, but it’s mostly because your dog loves you. It’s their natural way of showing you they feel completely safe and comfortable by your side. You’re part of their pack, and that’s an honor they don’t bestow on just anyone.
#3 – Jumping on You
While typically considered an undesirable behavior, jumping on a person is one way a dog shows their affection. When you drag yourself through the front door after a long day at work, your four-legged best friend is always there to greet you. When your arms are overloaded with grocery bags, they won’t hesitate to rejoice in your return by jumping up to your level. It’ll most likely result in you barely holding on to your bag of eggs and milk, but all your dog cares about is showing you how much he missed you.
Jumping up on people poses obvious problems—especially if you have a big dog—and it’s usually a good idea to teach them an alternative method of greeting people that come through the door. You can use positive reinforcement to show them that you’ll get their love message even if they keep all four paws on the ground. But in case they let their excitement take control, remember they’re not trying to be disobedient, they’re just showing you they love you.
#4 – Wagging Tails
There are few sounds sweeter than the “thump, thump, thump” of a happy dog’s wagging tail hitting the floor. Their tail starts wagging when they see dinner on its way, when they’re playing their favorite game, and most importantly, when their favorite people are around. Have you ever approached your dog when they’re lying calmly on the couch only to have their tail start wagging faster with every step closer you get? If you have, you have a clear answer to whether or not your dog loves you. They definitely do!
Although tail wagging isn’t always a sign of happiness, it’s generally displayed towards dog owners as a means of affection. When a dog is wagging his tail loosely, and his body language is showing other signs of comfort and excitement, it’s safe to say he’s happy you’re around. At the same time, however, many people don’t realize a wagging tail can also signal emotions like annoyance and even anger. It’s important to pay attention to the rest of the dog’s body to correctly translate their message. Stiffened muscles, pinned ears, and dilated pupils could mean there’s something else going on in your dog’s mind.
#5 – Following You Around
From your bedroom, to the coffee maker in the kitchen, to the couch, and even into the bathroom, dogs that love their owners have a habit of following them everywhere they go. They recognize the fact you’re typically their source of food and shelter, but their forever game of follow the leader is about more than that. As pack animals, dogs enjoy being with their families. The amount of affection a dog shows sometimes depends on their breed, but overall, man’s best friend will choose having company over being left alone. That is, as long as their company is someone they trust. You might trip over them on your way out of the shower, but being constantly by your side shows both loyalty and love.
The one thing you want to avoid when your dog likes to follow you around is separation anxiety. There will always be situations when no matter how much your dog wants to be with you, they can’t. Getting too attached can lead to behavioral issues like incessant barking and destroying things when they’re on their own. Check out this article to help you determine whether your dog simply likes following you around or if they’re showing signs of separation anxiety. If you think your pup is getting to the point where they’re stressed out when you’re not around, start talking to a trusted trainer.