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.
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.
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!
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.