A Valentine’s Day Inspired Primer: Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ in Dog Language

Phyllis and Zoe

When it comes to our dogs, they always offer us unconditional love. Returning that love, however, can be a challenge. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are some thoughts on how to tell your dog you love them back!

The best way to tell a dog you love them is through mimicry. Dogs rely on facial expressions and whole-body language to communicate. By learning to interpret your dog’s body language and mimic the pack behaviors your dog craves, you can say “I love you” in the following ways:

1. Don’t be embarrassed to use your doggie voice. Studies using MRI technology show dogs understand human language better than previously thought. So, holding that one-way conversation with your dog isn’t as crazy as you might think, and that high-pitched tone you use to talk to your dog (baby doggie-talk), they actually like it. Also, reading to dogs has been shown to calm anxious and high-energy dogs in shelters and brings shy dogs out of their shells.

2. Be a good listener. Not sure if you’re getting the message of love across? Your dog’s body language will tell you. Look for the dog’s body language of love: a wagging tail, lingering eye contact. However, keep an eye out for signs of an anxious dog: tucked tail, lip licking, dog’s eyes popping out or averted.

3. Facial expressions of love. No matter how you wish to hide your feelings from your dog, most of us know that they are very sensitive to our emotional state. Scientific studies have shown that dogs can read human emotions through our facial expressions.

4. The lean of love. Did you know that when a dog leans against you, it is a sign of love and trust? So go ahead, lean in to show a little love.

5. Cuddles and naps. Part of a dog pack’s behavior is playing hard and then resting with the pack. An afternoon nap together on the couch or in the grass will deepen your dog’s feeling of a pack. Dogs thrive on physical contact.

6. Walking. Dogs love routine and schedule, so a daily walk with training mixed in will help your dog understand how much you love and care for them.

7. The touch of love. Just touching your dog releases oxytocin in you and your dog, so a soothing massage, gentle grooming session, or extended petting time will tell your dog in no uncertain terms how much you love them. In particular, rubbing your dog’s ears works to release oxytocin in their body. Those adorable, soft ears are also packed with feeling receptors.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of Rover’s Kids! They cannot wait to see you Saturday, Feb. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Cottonwood Dance Room. Stop by to join our Valentine’s party and meet our new Kids—all are welcome! Need more information? Call 480-600-2828.