Ever wish your dog would just come out and say "I love you"? Well, unless he's one of a handful of talented YouTube stars, you're probably SOL. The good news? Your pooch is telling you how much he loves you all the time--just watch for these signs.
1 - Knows When You are Coming Home
Image: David Janson
When your dog waits by the window after having heard your car coming up the driveway or recognizing the sound of your footsteps, that's a clear declaration of love. If that's not enough, her frenzied, overjoyed greeting when you come in the door--barking, tail wagging, running in circles--will probably tip you off.
2 - Looks Deeply into Your Eyes
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In the wild, animals perceive held eye contact to be a threat. But, according to Scientific American, research has shown that looking lovingly into your pup's eyes provides a small burst of the love hormone oxytocin in both you and your dog, similar to that which occurs between a mother and child. And when he instigates it, you can be sure he is telling you how much he cares. (However, if you don't know a dog, it's best to avoid direct stares as they may be perceived as aggressive.)
3 - Leans on You
When your dog leans heavily against your legs, she may be doing it for a few reasons. She may be anxious or scared, or she may want you to go somewhere and is trying to subtly (or not so subtly) nudge you in the right direction. But the lean is also a sign of affection. Dogs really do love to cuddle, and having constant contact with you is a comfort. Regardless of her reasons, when your dog leans on you, she is telling you that she knows you will protect her and keep her safe.
4 - Sleeps in Your Bed
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There's a long history of humans and dogs sharing a sleeping space. Even Alexander the Great was known to have slept next to his dog, Peritas, after a battle. Dogs are pack animals and prefer to get some shuteye cuddled up with their best buds. So, the next time Fido hops up next to you and tries to snuggle under the covers, consider it a compliment. He loves you best.
5 - "Smiles" at You
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Ever wondered if, when your dog appears to smile at you, he really means it? She does. Dogs are sharply observant, particularly of human behavior, and when they love you, they mimic your mannerisms--including your tendency to smile when you're happy. Unlike animals in the wild, who bare their teeth only as a sign of aggression (as when your dog growls or snarls), domesticated dogs also smile to indicate pleasure--like when he's looking at her beloved owner.
6 - Brings You Toys
Nothing brings joy quite like a pup who wants to play. While bringing you toys is a sure sign that your dog is ready for a game of fetch or tug-of-war (an affectionate act in itself!), it can also be his way of telling you that he sees you as the leader of the pack. When he brings you his favorite toy, he's trying to please you by giving you something he loves.
7 - Yawns When You Yawn
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You've seen how people can "catch" yawns from each other because our biological empathy, but it turns out contagious yawning isn't specific to humans. A study from 2008 showed that dogs have a similar reaction to yawning showing that dogs also exhibit empathy, especially toward the people they know and love.
8 - Wags Tail When You Walk in the Room
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Happy dogs that are excited to see their favorite people have tails that go a mile a minute--but pay close attention the next time you see your dog's tail wagging, because studies have shown that dogs who wag their tail to the right are showing positive emotions, whereas wagging to the left shows negativity and may convey stress. Who knew so much could be said with a tail?
9 - Watches Calmly When You Leave
Image: Cesar's Way
This may be one of the most telling signs that your dog loves you. It seems counterintuitive, but if your dog is calm and quiet when you leave, it shows how much your dog trusts you. She is confident that you will come home. Excitability when you leave the house can actually be a sign of separation anxiety. Take comfort that a tranquil goodbye is a very loud "I love you."
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