Dog Body Language and Behavior: Signs Your Dog Loves You

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By: Carlos Sanchez | Last updated: Sep 15, 2022

Since you adopted your pup, he’s already shown you how much he loves you. You’ve probably wondered how he feels about you. But how do dogs show it? How do they react? What are they trying to tell you? Some of your pup’s behaviors will be obvious. Others will be subtle.

To help you decipher your dog’s body language, we’ve compiled a list of the various signs that prove your puppy loves and trusts you. According to the experts, there are reasons why your dogs tilt their head in such a way or raise their eyebrows. Which of these signs of love and affection does your dog display?

Your Dog Constantly Stares at You

Your dog can communicate affection. A staring dog releases Oxytocin, the hormone that plays a role in social harmony and love. You can bond with your dog when staring into its eyes. That bonding may become more intense as your relationship grows and develops.

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The Experts on Dog-Staring:
Laurie Santos, the director of the Yale University Center for Canine Cognition says, “Looking into one another’s eyes can increase hormones associated with social bonding.” She explains how dogs bond with humans as they spend more time together. The more time you spend together, the more often your pup will show comfort by staring into your eyes.

Your Pup Likes to Snuggle

Does your dog snuggle against you on the couch or sneaking into your bed, enjoying some comfy time with you before you head to work? You may notice that whenever you’re lying down, your dog lets you know that there are plenty of reasons he’s cuddling with you.

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The Experts on Snuggling Dogs:
Snuggling dogs are a good thing. Three minutes is all it takes for the love hormone to surge in dogs. After that, they’ll begin getting more comfortable. Gregory Berns, an animal researcher and author, reminds us that snuggling after dinner is even better, as your pup is showing you they want more than food.

Your Dog Keeps Checking in on You

Is that your dog peeking through the door? Is he watching you chat on your cell phone? Yes, he’s following you around because of the strong bond you two have. He might even be looking for more rewards like petting and extra food.

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The Experts on Dogs Checking in on You Frequently:
Your dog wants to bond more often. Take it from Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian acupuncturist of Animal Acupuncture in New York City. “Bonding with your dog is good for you,” Dr. Barrack states. Don’t limit your dogs’ social interaction with strictly other dogs. Instead, get your pup around humans as well. He’ll soon keep himself occupied.

Your Dog Find You Lickable

Your salty skin might taste good to your excitable pup. If your dog is constantly licking you, your dog is either showing you love or showing you what their version of a ritualized greeting is. In short, he’s happy to see you.

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The Experts on Your Dog Licking You:
Dr. Mary Burch, a certified animal behaviorist says that a dog licking you is showing you affection. She says, “It might also give a dog a feeling of security and comfort, just as the dog had when licked by its mother in the litter.” So, take a moment to think of how important it is for your dog to lick you. Appreciate it as your pup’s form of affection.

Your Dog Sleeps Facing Away from You

Dogs are protective. Your pup might be more comfortable sleeping facing the other direction. They’re better able to perceive a threat this way. This is especially true if your positioning on the bed requires him to do so. Resist the temptation to move your dog throughout the night, as this would only disturb him.

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The Experts on How a Dog Sleeps:
Dog whisperer Cesar Millan suggests you set some boundaries when it comes to a dog who likes to sleep in your bed. He talks about ventral contact (face-to-face or chest-to-chest) and explains that dogs don’t like this kind of contact the way we do. Millan says, “It is perfectly natural for a dog to sleep with other pack members, and it is also a powerful way to bond with your dog.” He reminds us also to set boundaries. It’s your bed, after all.

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Your Dog is Jealous

Hanging out with the family? Nurturing a child? Engaging in a hobby? Yes, dogs can get jealous, too, and science supports this claim. In a study involving 18 dogs, humans were instructed to interact with fake dogs to observe their real dogs’ reactions. The experiment caused their own dogs to yank at their chains. So, your dog is upset that you care about something more than him. Nothing to be concerned about. Their jealousy just shows how much they care for you.

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The Experts on Jealous Dogs:
Your pet wants your affection and yours only. Scientist Amelia Bastos of the University of Auckland in New Zealand compares that rivalry to a child that’s jealous because a parent is showing affection to another child. Your dog wants your attention, that’s all.

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Your Dog Body Slams You

A dog slam is a sign your pup is happy to see you. Puppies learn to jump on their mothers right away. And if you can imagine a dog just waiting around the house for its owner’s to get home from work, then yes, there is a good chance he’s been bored.

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The Experts on Dogs that Body Slam You:
It’s okay, but if you’ve got a larger dog, you might want to be careful. VCA veterinarian Debra Horwitz also mentions that, “Dogs that jump up can also cause injury or scare the visitor.” Think about how you react to being jumped on. According to Horwitz, that reaction would later make a dog anxious about other visitors. Not so good if you’ve got a big family, right?

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Your Dog Raises its Eyebrows When it Sees You

If your dog raises his eyebrows when he looks at you, he’s trying to show you affection. Your pup would be thrilled to see you respond in turn with affection of your own. Sometimes, an eyebrow-raising dog simply recognizes you and hopes you’ll acknowledge them.

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The Experts on Dogs Raising Their Eyebrows at You:
Dogs raise their eyebrows to trigger your instinct to nurture. According to the University of Portsmouth comparative psychologist Julianne Kaminski, dogs want to tell you they need your help. So, trust that your pup is only signaling the need of acknowledgement with his eyebrows.

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Your Dog Dances on Two Legs When You Arrive

If your dog is bouncing around on his legs, he’s expressing a desire for attention. Don’t worry about such behavior because your pup is only happy to see you around. They’re trying to show their admiration for you by getting closer to eye level to prove their excitement and connection.

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The Experts on Dogs Bouncing on Two Legs:
Dr. Patricia Alderson advices that while dogs bouncing on two legs is fun, it can also be dangerous. She says, “If it’s chronic that they’re on their legs like that, then it’s not a natural posture for a dog to be in, so it does produce more wear and tear on the joints.” Your dog loves you, so be sure to look after him and not let him use his hind legs too often. He’ll be thankful for it later.

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Your Dog Doesn’t Mind Sharing Their Toys With You

Your dog loves his favorite toy. He looks up to you as a leader and wants to earn your approval. The toy belongs to him now. If he shares, he cares about you enough that he wants to play with you. Maybe he even wants to let you know your opinion matters.

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The Experts on Dogs Sharing Their Toys with You:
The bonding goes deeper. Michelle L. Szydlowski, a vet tech and Beacon College anthrozoology instructor, says that dogs will display affection for you by bringing you their food. She says that your pup is having, “faith in your intelligence by bringing you items that need ‘fixing.'” So, when your dog slides over his dinner, there is more going on than meets the eye.

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Your Dog Dreams About You

Did you know your dog is probably dreaming about you? Dog dreams involve the experiences they have throughout the day. You’re around all the time, so, there’s a good chance it’s you your pup is thinking about.

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The Experts on Dogs Dreaming:
Dr. Deidre Barret, a clinical and evolutionary psychologist from Harvard Medical School says that since dogs are attached to owners, they’re “dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you.” Dreaming about you allows your dog to bond with you emotionally.

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Your Dog Yawns Right After You Do

Dogs are capable of showing empathy. That’s your dog’s ability to understand what you’re going through. At six A.M., he might mimic your yawning. He knows you’re tired, and he is probably a little sleepy himself.

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The Experts on Dogs Yawning:
Dogs get more attached as they see you doing new things. According to Teresa Romero, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Tokyo, “This attachment can shape the dog’s responses in a way similar to humans.” Your dog is more sensitive to a familiar yawn, but won’t mimic the actions of a stranger.

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Your Dog Has a ‘Helicopter Tail’

Does your dog wave its tail around like a propeller? Dogs waving their tails in circular motions suggest they’re excited, happy to see you, and want to show affection. Their tails are like antennas because they keep your pup knowing what’s happening surrounding him.

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The Experts on Dogs with Helicopter Tails:
A happy dog is a dog that waves its tail in a circular motion, says Patricia McConnell, animal behaviorist and author of “The Other End of the Leash.”  The animal behaviorist says she sees this kind of tail-wagging on dogs who love a particular person so much. So, it looks like you’re the reason your pup is wagging his tail.

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Your Dog Leans Against You

A dog leaning on you is showing you affection. Your dog may even be coming to you for signs of positive reinforcement. What does your pup want even more than attention? Comfort. Leaning against you can be comfortable for your pup, or it’s possible he’s afraid, too. In such a case, leaning against you brings your pup relief and shows that he trusts you for protection and comfort.

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The Experts on Your Dog Leaning on You:
Dogs have bonded with their leaders for thousands of years, says the founder of Dog with Blog, Abhishek Joshi. “Dogs are pack animals, descending from the wolves.” The founder elaborates by mentioning that dogs have a “proximity-seeking nature.” That means all you need to do is trust that your dog will look up to you.

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Your Dog Brings You His Food

Your dog loves his food. He looks up to you as a leader and wants to earn your approval. The food should belong to you as well, he thinks. If he shares, he cares about you and wants you to know that your approval matters.

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The Experts on Dogs Bringing You Their Food:
Think of what dog walking company Wag! says about a dog bringing you his food. “A big vote of confidence from your dog to you is when he brings you his food. He’s trusting you,” the company says. He appreciates you as the owner and trusts you to keep his food away from other animals. Your dog counts on you as much as he loves you.

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Your Dog Smiles at You

A smiling dog is relaxed and happy. People adopt pets because they love seeing dogs mimic human behavior. Most of these behaviors represent some kind of hidden meaning, but for a dog that sounds like it’s laughing, that sound is its representation of having fun.

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The Experts on Smiling Dogs:
Dogs notice how your reactions match your feelings. Kim Brophey from the Dog Door Behavior Center in Asheville, North Carolina says that dogs excel in swaying us masters at human behavior observation and manipulation. Apparently, dogs like to know they’re doing what humans want them to do. “That’s their niche,” Brophey explains.

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Your Dog Sleeps Near You

Your dog considers itself a member of a pack. You’re the leader, so your dog will most likely be near you when you fall asleep to make sure you’re safe. A dog that sleeps near you is a dog that’s loyal. So, trust its protective instincts.

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The Experts on Your Dog Sleeping Near You:
Puppies sleep close to their families. Dr. Stanley Coren, professor emeritus of psychology suggests you observe how your dog sleeps, “The tendency that many dogs have to cuddle when they sleep is a holdover from when they were puppies.” The doctor elaborates, mentioning that as dogs get older, they sleep close to you to remember the feeling of comfort experienced in puppyhood.

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Your Dog Rubs its Face Against You

You are a human owner, but your dog considers you as part of its territory. When your dog rubs against your face, it’s doing this because its scent glands are in their face, so your pup is actually marking you with its scent to keep other dogs away.

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The Experts on Your Dog Rubbing its Face Against You:
You know your pup cares about how you feel. Jennifer Mayer and Dr. Deborah Custance from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmith’s in London says that nuzzling is how dogs express this empathy. Research from the journal, Animal Cognition, says that dogs may feel more emotions than any other animal. You can feel that firsthand when their furry face is pressed against yours.

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Your Dog Gives You its Paw

Have you ever wished dogs could talk? If so, you’d want to hear them reciprocate the love they have for you. If a dog gives you their paw, they’re letting you know they love you. After all, they can only communicate so much. To them, their paw is similar to your gentle hand stroking their fur.

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Experts on a Dog Giving You its Paw:
Dogs adore belly rubs and want humans to understand they care about touch. DogLab consultant and Texas veterinarian Sara Ochoa, DVM, says, “Just as dogs adore belly rubs, they also seem to understand that their people like to be touched as well, and since they love us, they want to make us happy.” How adorable!

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Your Dog Seems to Know You Need Emotional Support

There are many types of emotional support animals, but dogs are the most common ones you’ll find. That’s because dogs know more than any other species when a human is hurting. Given that you’re the owner, your pup will be more likely to recognize when you specifically are hurting rather than any other human.

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Experts on Dogs and Emotional Support:
Don’t feel alone if you’re sad or crying and your dog comes to comfort you. According to Julia Meyers-Manor, assistant professor of psychology at Ripon College, a dog’s behavior in reading our emotions becomes instinctual over time. Research shows that when you cry, your dog also feels distressed and will do what it can to try and help you feel better.

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Your Dog Knows Your Name

Does your dog seem to react when someone calls your name? That’s because your dog knows what you look like, how you smell, and even your name, if he hears it enough. There is scientific evidence to back up the fact that your dog knows your name and will express excitement when he hears it, even when you’re not around.

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Experts on Why Dogs Know Your Name:
Your dog can interpret some language. According to psychologist and dog researcher Stanley Coren, your pup has the intellect of a 2 1/2-year-old toddler. That means they can grasp anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand words. Also, keep in mind, your dog also feels positive emotions when hearing your name. So, consider using your own name more often in the future to make your dog’s day.

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Your Dog is the First One to Know You’re Coming Home

Your dog has learned to pick up on daily cues. You two have built a bond, forging a lasting friendship that your dog craves. Your pup gets used to when you leave and has learned when your workday is over. And if your scent smells far away from the house, they’ll know it’s not long before you return.

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Experts on Your Dog Knowing When You’ll Come Home:
Author Alexandra Horowitz talks about how dogs understand your scent. “A potent combination of two forces leads to a dog’s abilities. The first is the distinctness of our smell to our dogs.” She goes on to explain that the second force is “the ease with which dogs learn our habits.” For your dog, a decrease in your scent signals a passing day. He knows you’re coming home soon.

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Your Pup Cries When He Sees You

Think of this crying as happy tears. Your dog cries because he’s excited you’re there. After all, an eight-hour workday is a long day of separation. Keep calm and understand your dog wants you to return the affection.

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Experts on Your Dog Crying When He Sees You:
The truth is, a crying dog may feel sadness or anxiety and would try and alert you. Or, perhaps they’re looking for your attention. Dr. David Dilmore of Banfield Pet Hospital says, “Your dog may start whining if he’s looking for you to give him something.” Apparently, that includes playtime and petting, or belly rubs and food. You might even notice him crying when you pick up his leash.

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Your Dog Sleeps with a Piece of Your Clothing

The chances of your dog having separation anxiety are high if he sleeps on your clothing. If you’re not there, your pup might miss you, and will remain hidden among your clothing until you return. He may also find your clothing especially comfortable for some reason.

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The Experts on Dogs Sleeping with Your Clothing:
“Whether your clothes are clean or dirty, a dog can always smell our scent with their powerful noses,” says veterinary consultant Amber LaRock. “Sleeping in our clothes may be their way of connecting with you.” The dog’s bond with a human is strong enough that they’ll never ignore it. That means your dog will rest near your clothing when you’re not there. Just so he can better connect with you.

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Your Dog Sighs Around You

A sighing dog is a happy and comfortable dog, especially if their eyes are closed. Next time your dog sighs, consider offering a treat, belly rub, or friendly pat on the head to let them know you’re interested in spending time together.

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Experts on Dogs Sighing Around You:
You should know by now that dogs are emotional. If they’re happy, they won’t mind showing it, and if they’re bored, they may even sigh as you do. Veterinary surgeon Dr. Joanna Woodnutt explains that dogs need an outlet to express their emotions, just like humans. So, there isn’t any reason to think your dog isn’t comfortable.

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Your Dog Watches as You Walk Away

Your dog knows you’re coming back. He just knows it. When he watches you walk away, he’ll observe your demeanor. As long as you’re calm, he’ll be too. After all, your dog trusts that you’ll never leave him behind. If he gets a little worked up, that might be a sign of separation anxiety.

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Experts on Dogs and Watching You Walk Away:
Your dog still loves you, even if he is suffering from separation anxiety, but helping your dog keep calm is key to helping them change behaviors. “The dog will not wake up and just decide to be calm and relax,” says Becca Wood, owner of West Virginia’s Almost Heaven K9 Training. “This is a skill that must be taught and then practiced daily.” That means your dog should always be calm by the time you leave the house.

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Your Dog Tilts its Head When Hearing Your Voice

Dogs tilt their head from side to side to hear better. Sometimes, they want to better detect your facial expressions or tone of voice. Other times, they simply want to figure out where your emotions are. Dogs express empathy this way.

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Experts on Dogs Tilting Their Head When Hearing Your Voice:
According to VCA Animal hospital doctors Ryan Llera and Lynn Buzhardt, “when a dog cocks his head to the side, he is trying to hear your words.” The doctors go on to explain that tilting their head helps them understand you. Understand, your pup is concentrating on every move you make.

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Your Dog Shows You His Belly

Like humans, dogs have a tendency to protect their vital organs. So, if they roll on their back, they’re expressing vulnerability and trust. Of course, a dog showing you it’s belly might also mean he simply wants a belly rub. Either way, they’re comfortable enough to expose themselves to you.

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The Experts on Dogs Showing You Their Bellies
“Dogs expose their bellies as part of a submissive display,” says veterinarian Dr. Margaret Gruen. She explains that this playtime means your dog trusts you. For that, you should reach down and rub your dog’s belly, confident that both of you trust each other.

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Your Dog Sniffs Your Crotch

It’s not uncommon to see a dog with a happy, open-mouthed smile. A happy dog wants his human owner to know that he’s happy, and will make a point of smiling in response to a human’s grin. If nothing else, your dog wants positive reinforcement.

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Experts on Dogs Sniffing Your Crotch:
It’s awkward, but Professor Stanley Coren says that dogs have ways of gathering information. So, your dog might behave this way to learn how you’re doing. But mostly, they think of this behavior as an awkward handshake, nothing more.

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Your Dog Chases Your Shoes and Socks

As it turns out, dogs are attracted to sweat. They find comfort in it because it reminds them of their owner’s presence. Shoes and socks can sometimes smell, and dogs are also attracted to this scent. In the end, your dog may feel comfortable being around your old sneakers.

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The Experts on Dogs Chasing Your Shoes and Socks:
Dogs also chew on socks to get your attention. That’s according to Mary Jean Alsina, a professional trainer and the owner of The Canine Cure in New Jersey. “Dogs also may find when they grab socks, they get chased.” So, yes, it’s like a rewarding game to them. Ultimately, these signs your dog loves you are all in his behaviors, his reactions, his demeanor, and the way he stares into your eyes. There are so many loving signs. So, you can rest assured, you and your dog are destined to be together.

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