Do Dogs Love You?
You’re petting your dog and they’re snuggled up against you, wagging their tail. They look so content and happy and your heart is so full. You love them so much, but do dogs love you back?
Science says…yes! Though they can’t put their love into words, dogs have an unexpectedly large number of ways to show they care.
The Scientific Proof That Dogs Love You
Before we launch into this, we do have to say that more and more studies are being done to see if dogs do love you. There is still a lot more to be uncovered! But for now, we can say that dogs love you, just as much as you love them.
The first piece of scientific evidence is the ‘oxytocin-gaze positive loop.” If you’re like us, then you have no idea what that means at first read. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you.
Oxytocin is a hormone in your brain. It’s what makes you feel good, or in love, when you see someone you really care about. It triggers by sight, touch, and even smell! This hormone is essentially for humans, because it lets us bond with others on a deeper level. It’s the cause of friendships and relationships everywhere!
Your dogs have this hormone too.
Ah yes, the ol’ “oxytocin-gaze positive loop”.A 2015 study in Japan found dogs and humans were engaging in cross-species gaze-mediated bonding using this same oxytocin system. In other words, dogs were looking at different humans and the scientists were studying how their brains reacted.
When humans and dogs stare into each other’s eyes, they each register a spike of oxytocin. That means your dog is very happy to see you and does love being in your presence!
MRI is an Acronym for Puppy Love
As you might have guessed, this study involves dogs in an MRI. The dogs were exposed to familiar smells, including that of their owners, and scientists studied the results in real time.
The reasoning behind this is that dogs navigate the world through their noses. Therefore, they should have a reaction when they smell something familiar.
The scientists found that, when the dog smelled their owner, their brains’ reward center lit up!
Among other surprising findings, the study also revealed marked similarities in the way dog and human brains process emotionally laden vocal sounds. Researchers found that happy sounds in particular light up the auditory cortex in both species. This commonality speaks to the uniquely strong communication system underlying the dog-human bond.
In short, dogs don’t just seem to pick up on our subtle mood changes — they are actually physically wired to pick up on them. It means they’ve evolved to be the perfect companions for humans and they actually want to take care of you. If that’s not love, then we don’t know what is!
How Do Dogs Show Their Love?
At Doggy Brace, we’re all pet parents and we all have our own stories. One dog’s tail might go insane the moment his daddy walks into the room, while the other does an interpretive happy dance. They all show their love differently, but there are a few common things you can watch out for.
Bonding Time or Seeking Comfort
Dogs seek you out when they want to be comforted or when they feel vulnerable. Just as the previously mentioned studies shows, your dog looks at you and feels love.
The key is to maintain natural eye contact while you’re playing or cuddling. If you force eye contact with your dog, it’ll probably get a little uncomfortable and look away. Like maintaining eye contact, you’re probably not going to lean up against someone you don’t know or trust–and neither will your dog.
Your dog may also lean up against you. This means they feel safe, secure, and totally comfortable. Sometimes dogs will lean against their humans when they’re feeling scared or anxious, but that only means it sees you as its protector. It is a sign of love!
Checking Up On You
More independent dogs may not always be right at your side or curled around your feet, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t love you. If your dog “checks in” on you from another room, during a walk, or in a new environment, it’s making sure you’re nearby. If you look over and see them staring at you, it’s not meant to be creepy or threatening! It’s just them checking up on you to make sure you’re okay (and not giving out any treats)!
How to Show Your Dog You Love Them
Showing your dog you love them is very easy. Give them plenty of attention, pets, play time, a snuggle time, and a good diet.
You can also show them you care with Doggy Brace! If moving around causes them pain, then consider getting them an ACL dog brace for their hind leg. That little extra support can mean the world to them!