How to tell if a dog loves you
Doggy member Merryn, the Goldendoodle, smiling softly and gazing lovingly towards the camera

How to tell if a dog loves you

14 February 2024

The love we have for our dogs is unconditional, but ever wonder if the feeling is mutual? We’ve done some digging and have found a few ways you can tell your dog, borrowed or owned, is feeling happy and showing you affection.

Meeting a new dog can be just as nerve-racking as meeting a new person. You want to make sure they like you and that you’re making a first good impression, right? So whether you’re going to meet a potential doggy to borrow, a new puppy or rescue, or even a friend’s dog how can you be sure they’re warming to you?

The face says it all

Doggy member Ossy, the Sprocker, wearing the biggest smile!

Did you know dogs can smile and grin? They often show affection with theirs faces with a relaxed, open mouth - not a shut, tight grimace. When your furry friend is happy their eyes should also be relaxed and their ears will be held naturally.

It’s all in the tail

Doggy member Teddy, the Maltipoo, trotting happily towards her owner with her tail softly swinging side to side and her tongue hanging out as she smiles

A dog’s tail can reveal a lot about how their feeling. A happy loving pup will hold their tail in it's natural position and often wag it gently side to side.

The faster they’re wagging it, the more excited and happier they are. If they are wagging their entire bottom, well, they are truly happy!

A dog that’s relaxed will wag their tail, and a relaxed dog means they’re comfortable around you.

Tail wagging can also occur if a dog is a bit stressed though so if a dog’s muscles are stiff and their tail is wagging, it could mean they’re annoyed or unhappy - so do keep that in mind.

Lean on me

Doggy member Fudge, the Border Collie, resting their head on their owner leaning in for more strokes

Dogs can often lean on their humans when they are showing affection. When receiving a good cuddle or stroke doggies can lean in, it’s their way of saying “more please!”

Jumping to see you

Doggy member Jake, the English Springer Spaniel jumping up for joy at their owner

We don’t all liked to be jumped on, but dogs love to do so to get closer to their human's face, to give you a “Welcome home!” lick, showing you they’re happy to see you.

Eye contact

Doggy member Peaches, the Klein German Spitz resting her head on the sofa staring into the eyes of her owner lovingly

If a dog is making prolonged eye contact with you, good news! A study conducted in Azabu University in Japan by animal behaviourist, Takefumi Kikusui found that eye contact is a good thing and compares to parent-infant bonding. So if your new pooch is staring at you, you’ve made a friend!

Dog licks

Doggy member Freya, the Golden Retriever, giving her owner a sloppy kiss

Dog licking can be seen as annoying but it is in fact a good thing, as it’s a major sign of affection. Although is can be caused by the salty skin of us humans, more often than not, their lick is a sign of love for a new acquaintance.

They steal your things

Doggy member Teddy, the Cross Breed, curled up on the sofa with their owner's sweatshirt

Left your shoes on the floor by the skirting board and now your dog has them? Draped your sweatshirt over the arm of the sofa and now your dog is snuggling into it?

This means they’re drawn to your scent – so your dog is actually paying you a massive compliment.

They're relaxed around you

Doggy member Nanook, the Samoyed, lying down happily with relaxed body language

If a dog displays the following body language around you, you can rest assured that they’re comfortable and happy:

  • Play bowing
  • Moving in a rocking-horse type motion while playing
  • Wagging their tail
  • ‘Smiling’ – a relaxed facial expression, maybe with their tongue slightly out
  • Sleeping close to you
  • Snuggling in to you

Owners will know their dogs the best, and will often be able to read when they are happy, sad or even unwell. If you’re ever worried about your owned or borrowed dog’s behaviour we always recommend speaking to your local vet or premium members can always ring our 24/7 vet line, who are always happy to give advice.

This article is for information only, and should never replace any advice, diagnosis or treatment from your veterinary surgeon. Always contact your local vet or out of hours vet without delay if you have any concerns about your dog.

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