The Attachment Theory by John Bowlby tells us the four building blocks of attachment bond between human and dog:
- Safe Haven—dogs run towards their caregivers for comfort when they are scared.
- Proximity seeking—dogs strive to stay around their caregivers.
- Secure base—a dependable base is provided by the caretakers for dogs to explore things.
- Separation-related distress—dogs gets upset when separated from their caretakers.
When dog owners have such a deep relationship with their dogs, they want to know how do dogs show affection to reciprocate their feelings?
Dogs can’t tell how much they love by putting it into words, but they do express their affection in doggy ways—which we will describe in this article.
How Do Dogs Show Affection?
Dogs show affection through their body language, and they don’t shy away from doing so. But, you have to understand their gestures and sounds they make when they are getting cozy with you.
Here are some of the gestures we are going to demystify.
The very first symbol of a dog showing his affection is when you come back home. Your dog pours out love as he is pleased to see you in your normal space again, with him, where he reckons you belong. He gets overexcited as if his world is falling back into the place he is fond of.
When you go out for hours and don’t take your pooch with you, or even if you go to the washroom for 5 minutes, your dog misses you badly and waits for you to get back to him. And when he sees you, bam! He woofs, slides between your leg and tries to reach your face to give a welcome kiss to greet you happily. This is one way to know how do dogs show affection!
This is the symbol we all understand very well. Being with a dog, we know when he is well-fed and happy, he jumps around in the house. But if he is jumping and sliding between your legs, this is a way of giving you lovey-dovey treatment.
Dogs also jump when they need attention, it’s probably their doggy way of saying, “Weee! Look at me!”
Urged by their instincts, dogs like to lick anything they can get their tongue on. However, if your dog is licking your lips, cheeks, necks, hands, feet, or any other part of your bare skin, it indicates they are high on ‘cuddle hormone’ or ‘feel-good hormone’ and want to give you some of their physical affection.
With his front paws wrapped around your wrist and he’ll lick your hand with her ears flattened down, enjoying the warm fuzzy feelings of connection, bonding, and trust.
If your dog is not sleeping, he must be sniffing something!
Dogs pretty much sniff everything they see, as olfaction is their primary sense. You will find them poking their cute little snouts anywhere, from your shoes, socks, and cups to your hair, feet, and neck.
So, if you have the concern ‘my dog keeps sniffing me,’ it’s not a concern at all, it’s just him being friendly with you. Dogs also sniff you to get a hold of your scent.
5. Nose Nudges
Yep, dogs do nose nudges to show their affection. Often used by humans to express their fondness, a nose nudge is a common gesture used by dogs to display their love for their owners. Dogs will use their nose to nudge your arms, nose, or other body parts to get a touch of you.
This is a little surprising for many dog owners, but that’s true. When dogs are happily playing and happily playing, they sneeze to express their inner feelings.
If you are rubbing your dog’s tummy and he starts groaning, this signals that he is delighted by your action and acknowledges your action by sounds. This groaning sound is similar to what humans experience while getting a massage when muscle tension vaporizes away.
8. Standing in Front of You
If you don’t respond to your dog if he is jumping, he will use the other approach to tell you he wants to have some time with you. Though it may seem to be a little dominating; but, if he is standing with tail wagging and tongue out, it means his intentions are to pull you out of your busy routine and have some parent-child bonding time.
A very silent and lazy way through which dogs show affection to their owners is staring. No jumping, no standing in your way, no sliding between your legs, and not looking for treats, he’d be just sitting on his dog bed, staring at you, and thinking, ‘oh! I am so blessed and lucky to have this ‘hooman’. He/she gives me company, attention, food, and care. Let’s stare at him/her and send my feelings through telepathy.’
10. Sitting on Lap
This is a ‘heavy’ way of exhibiting love if your dog weighs around 80 to 90 kg. If you are playing a game, reading a book, using your phone, or sitting on the bed, your pup will nudge your arms to make way for him to sit on your lap. He just sits on your lap and rests his head on your shoulder, giving a signal of how much he loves you.
11. Keeping Paw on You
You pet them with your hands, they pet you with their paws. With a paw gesture, your dog shows affection and acceptance that he likes you and appreciates patting you are giving her.
12. Cheering You Up When You Are Sad
Nature has equipped dogs with incredible senses, one of them being to sense the positive and negative air around them.
When they get closer to you and sniff, they sense your mood changes. Even without sniffing, if you lay your head down and act lazy, your baby will come running towards you and try to cheer you up by bringing toys and patting your head slowly.
13. Exercising With You
If a dog loves his owner, he can’t seem to let go of him. Either you are going shopping or sleeping in your bed, your dog wants to be with you everywhere. So is it possible that you are making some strange exercise moves in front of him, and he won’t be there to buckle you up?
Whether it’s running, jogging, hiking, or yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), cardio, your dog will show his affection by giving you company while you burn those extra calories.
14. Tap Dancing
It is another way of how do dogs show affection. Tap dancing on the front paws is a sign of excitement when he sees his parents coming towards him. When his excitement levels are high, but their energy is fifty-fifty, he relies on using two of their paws to tap the floor instead of jumping up high.
15. Standing on Behind Limbs
This is kind of a goofy way to demonstrate love. With front legs in the air, eyes popping out, and mouth open, your pup will stand on his hind legs to tell you that he will do any trick to please you.
Rolling on the floor is a major sign of submission. Having the alpha nature, dogs don’t usually do this. But when they are fully smitten with love, they tell you that you are in charge and he is rolling on the floor for you.
17. Sitting in Your Feet
Sitting on your feet can be a gesture of submission or dominance.
Jennifer Brent, animal advocate and external relations manager at Found Animals, says, “when he’s sitting on your foot, it’s an ownership thing. He does this for three main reasons: to feel secure about his place in your life, to warn other dogs that you are spoken for, and because he wants to protect you.”
Other than the above-mentioned signs, dogs show affection by
- Sharing their favorite toys
- Staying with you when you are sad
When dog owners think about how do dogs show affection, the question ‘why do dogs show affection’ chimes in.
In most cases, they are inclined towards believing in Stockholm syndrome—they didn’t choose us; we chose them. Maybe they love us for what we are providing for them and that we are their key to food, treats, company, and the outside world?
However, this is not the right way to think. Dogs love their owners unconditionally, and they stick with us through thick and thin. We take care of them because we treat them as we do to our children. We love them because they solace our hearts, and love us because we show them care and affection. A dog-human relation is just like that of a child to parent, so it’s a family matter—not a Stockholm syndrome.