Dogs adore their owners, and, unlike cats, there are no guessing games about it. The bond is a special one dating back thousands of years, which is why dogs are called 'man's best friend.' And the best part about humans' relationship with dogs is how simple and profound it is. Your dog doesn't judge you and will shower you with unconditional love if you're good to it and show it affection in turn. So, how exactly does a dog make its loving feelings known?
One way to tell whether you and your canine companion are bonded is to see what your dog does after eating. If it snuggles up with you or sits at your feet, you can pat yourself on the back. Instead of immediately going outdoors to relieve itself, it would rather chill with you until it can't ignore nature's call.
It's 5:30 pm, and you're opening the door to your apartment or house. If your dog greets you with exuberant delight, that's a pretty good sign it loves you, unless it says hello to every stranger that way too. And it's not just about wanting supper. Dogs that share a bond with their owners make a beeline for them after they eat. Puppies may even pee a bit from all the excitement.
Dogs sleep for nine hours every night. That's about the same number of sleep hours humans need. If your dog likes to get in your bed at night or chooses to sleep on your bedroom floor, you're its favorite person. Dogs are adaptable and will sleep where you allow, but they're also social creatures. When there are other animals in the house, your dog might cozy up to one of them. This preference doesn't mean it doesn't have a bond with you—you might not be numero uno.
Dogs that feel safe and comfortable with their owners meet their gazes without being forced to do so. 'Puppy dog eyes' evolved so dogs could inspire humans to nurture them. When you and your fur baby make eye contact, it releases oxytocin, the 'love hormone' in both of you, and forges or deepens a bond.
Dogs shimmy up next to and lean into the people they like, and they rub their faces on their loved ones, too. Your dog marks you and displays its possessiveness towards you by giving you a little nuzzle. Dogs that seem to be rubbing their snouts on objects 24/7 may have itchy skin, so it's worth monitoring the issue to see whether you need to take it to the vet.
We protect what we love. Dogs are the same, so if your dog is bonded to you, it might display guarding behavior even when the coast is clear. It will sit facing away from you while you eat or work or stand between you and a stranger. Sometimes, this behavior can become problematic, so consult a professional if something doesn't feel quite right.
You might not be enthused when you receive a spit-soaked toy or, shock and horror, a dead animal, but if your dog wants to share its favorite objects with you or presents you with a bloody gift, it's a sign of love. And, sure, Fido may be bored and want to play, but it's you he wants to play with, which says a lot about your bond.
Bonded dogs have a reliable recall response, which means they respond when their name is called and return to their owners' side, whether at home or out for a walk. The behavior requires training, but when successful, it indicates that a dog and its owner share a strong relationship. Your dog may dash ahead at the park, but it will turn and seek you out, especially in unfamiliar places. There's a whole lotta love in that glance, even if it's more subtle than a cheek rub.
Dogs have a powerful sense of smell, so if your dog loves you, you'd best believe they love the scent of you. Think about all the items that smell like you—your clothing, shoes, blankies, and furniture. A bonded dog seeks out these items and lays down with them because they represent comfort and security. Your clothes may get ruined if chewing is involved, so ensure you provide chew toys to minimize the destruction.
Smiles are often contagious. Some dogs figure out how to smile, and when they see the smiles and happy reactions they get in return, they learn to do it more often. Submissive grins tend to occur when a dog is relaxed and content. Dogs also lick their humans. Mama dogs lick their puppies in infancy, and when the puppies grow up, they groom and show affection just as their moms did.
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