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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Dog Affection
The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Dog Affection
Feb 14, 2024 - Antelopepets

While our dogs aren’t yet capable of outright talking to us, they are masters of nonverbal communication — especially when it comes to expressing their affection and love. In fact, dogs have been found to love and value their owners almost as much as they love and value food. If you’ve been wanting to brush up on all the ways that our dogs show us that they adore us, we’ve got you covered. Here are five common signs that your dog loves you just as much as you love them. 

They wag their tail around you

This one might be obvious, but tail wagging is a telltale (pun intended!) sign that your dog is happy to see you. Fun fact: a dog’s tail is one of the easiest ways to gauge their current emotion. As we mentioned before, dogs aren’t able to communicate in ways that are always easily understandable, but that doesn’t stop them from using their body language to express themselves! Tail wagging scratches the surface of a whole range of emotions conveyed exclusively through the tail. 

They initiate playtime 

According to Dr. Lindsey Wendt, Antelope’s Chief Veterinary Officer, dogs initiating playtime with us is usually an instinctual way for them to show their affection. Because playtime goes beyond physical activity for dogs, it’s a way for them to deepen their bond with their owners. Plus, there’s nothing cuter than when your pup drops their favorite toy in your lap for a game of fetch. 

They double as your shadow 

When your dog insists on following you everywhere (and yes, that even includes the bathroom), they’re showing you that they really, really love you. Dogs are pack animals, which means that companionship is incredibly important to them. This instinctual desire to be around you all the time stems from the fact that your dog considers you a part of their pack! 

Another reason why your dog might double as your shadow is because they’ve imprinted on you. Imprinting usually occurs early in a dog’s life and is a way for them to learn and develop social behaviors and skills. When a dog imprints on its owner, they’re more likely to want to be close to them. Dogs who have imprinted on their owners have also affectionately earned the nickname “VELCRO® dogs” for, well, obvious reasons. 

They don’t leave your side when you’re sick

It’s no surprise that animals as loyal as dogs can not only tell when we’re sick, but insist on sticking by our side to provide emotional support. You’ve probably heard the stories of dogs being able to detect when their owners are pregnant, which is largely due to their incredible sense of smell. The same principle applies when we’re sick. According to Emily Carl, CPDT-KA, CCBC, FFCP and Head of Pet Services at Doggo, dogs are capable of detecting slight shifts in our bodies. And, because they’re pack animals, they feel an innate drive to stay near the “weakest” member of their pack while we recover. 

Dogs are also finely attuned to our mental health. If you’ve ever been having a bad day and notice your dog has been following you around more than usual, it’s likely that they’re trying to comfort you with behaviors that have made you happy in the past. 

They stare at us 

This one may sound a bit odd, but in the animal world, prolonged staring is often seen as a threatening behavior. That said, when a dog who feels affectionately towards you just can’t seem to stop staring, it’s usually because they’re seeking comfort from you.