Can Dogs Fall Out of Love With Their Owners?

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You spend quality hours getting to know your new dog, training him to do his business outside and to refrain from chewing your shoes and jumping on strangers. In return, nearly all pups shower their owners with doggie love in the form of wet kisses, barking for joy, wagging their tail, and offering up their belly for a good, long scratch. If you find yourself saying, "My dog doesn't want to be around me anymore," it probably isn't because he's fallen out of love with you. Keep in mind that it's risky to anthropomorphize your dog, which means to ascribe human feelings to an animal.

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Don't assign human feelings to your dog, because that just doesn't really work.
Image Credit: Gajus/iStock/GettyImages

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Are dogs capable of love?

The truth is that dogs can't help falling in love with the people who care for them because so many dog owners work hard to make their pets feel welcome in the home. Dogs are extremely loving, and their ability to show this emotion tends to fall into a few different categories. Once you determine which type of love language your dog is speaking, you'll better understand her emotions.

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The categories are affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. In dog terms, figure out which acts make your dog happiest and then you'll know exactly what she loves. For example, if your pup is highly motivated to perform when treats or toys are offered, she could be a pet who loves receiving gifts. Dogs who crave physical touch may adore snuggling close to you or being bathed, brushed, petted, and scratched on the neck and ears.

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Signs a dog is upset

When dogs don't like a person or a situation, it's usually pretty apparent. You might notice certain behaviors or even sounds coming from your pet that are unusual for his demeanor. Be on the lookout for indications that your dog is stressed or upset:

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  • Dilated eyes:​ Glassy eyes may mean your dog is afraid or feels threatened, whereas a relaxed animal usually squints in contentment.

  • Panting:​ Watch for lots of huffing and puffing along with drooling in the absence of food.

  • Tail trouble:​ A tucked tail or one held close to the body or that wags stiffly is another hint.

  • Raised hair:​ Fur standing up or shedding more than usual also means fear or stress for your pup. This sign is called "raised hackles," and you'll spot it on your dog's spine, shoulders, and tail area.

  • Growling:​ If you hear this sound or see that your dog's teeth are bared, a bite could be next.

  • Yawning:​ Your pet could be upset if he's yawning but doesn't seem fatigued or if he's licking his lips or sniffing in the direction of another animal or person.

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Sudden aggression in dogs

An unusual change in your dog's behavior probably doesn't mean she's fallen out of love with you. Instead, your dog could be annoyed and showing aggression because something else is occurring around her, such as another dog approaching her special toy, tasty treat, or even something she's killed. Your pet is simply guarding what's hers. If you get nipped, this surprise bite might indicate your puppy is tired and needs a break from playtime. Sudden growling from an otherwise placid pet could be an indication of pain or illness.

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Check in with your dog's vet for an examination so you can get to the bottom of this strange mood swing. If you learn that certain situations cause your dog to act out, you can avoid them in the future. Your dog's doc might also recommend a certified dog trainer or animal behaviorist by way of an intervention if your pet's new-found aggression doesn't abate.

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