It’s pretty obvious how much we love our humans. I mean a recent study revealed that we love you guys as much, if not more, than food. Now that’s huge! We show our devotion to you in a variety of ways. Your first clue is that we follow you all around the house, wherever you go. In the kitchen, we hang out right beneath your feet, occasionally leaning on you. In your bed, if allowed, we’re right there next to you, curled up beside your legs or even on your pillow. You can also tell just by looking into our eyes. There’s that certain glimmer we give off, and well, you just know.
Want to know how to express how much you love us back? Well, here’s something you’ll find interesting. We are not crazy about hugs. I know, that sounds so counterintuitive. A recent article in Psychology Today suggests that hugging us can raise stress levels and cause anxiety. I guess you have to think of it this way: Hugs are great for humans, but we’re not human. I know, sometimes it’s easy to forget that.
I thought it would be a good idea to give you 5 ways in which to show us you love us based on our own language. I promise, we’d definitely appreciate your efforts and will respond positively.
We Love to Gaze at You; Gaze Back
A team of Japanese researchers recently identified an unusual phenomenon they call “oxytocin-gaze positive loop” that occurs between bonded humans and their dogs. Oxytocin is associated with nurturing and attachment, meaning a soft, gentle stare can wordlessly communicate your feelings of love for us in a language we have come to understand over thousands of years alongside humans.So extended eye contact with us can cause the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, to flood both ours and your brains. Add to that gentle strokes and some kind soft words, and we’re hooked!
Raise Your Left Eyebrow
Another study found that we tend to raise our left eyebrow when greeted by our owners. This is interesting. The researchers, using a high speed camera, scrutinized the facial movements of 12 dogs of various breeds when looking at their owners versus strangers. When the strangers came along to greet them, the test dogs displayed less facial activity overall and most of it was right sided. The significance is that the right brain controls the left side of the face and is tied to emotion, while the left brain controls the right side of the face and is tied into analytical behaviors. The researchers concluded that this action most likely reflects our attachment to you. Much like the oxytocin-gaze positive pathway, dogs seem to understand and mimic these subtle expressions. So if you are able to greet us with a raised left eyebrow, we’ll just love that!
Get Extra Close
As I said earlier, leaning or lying up against you is a one of the many ways we demonstrate our affection for you. It also indicates a high level of trust. Physical closeness is our way of hugging you. If you want to show us how much you love us, try “hugging” us right back with a gentle lean. And guess what? Being close to us benefits you as well. Several studies have found that just touching us can boost your “love hormone” level, helping you de-stress from the day and relax into sleep.
Let Us Sleep With You
This is one of my favorites. Research indicates that letting us sleep with you is the ultimate display of love and trust we can give because that is when we are at our most vulnerable. What’s more, cuddling can also be mutually beneficial for both of us. First, we can help keep each other warm. Second, our rhythmic breathing and steady heart rate are comforting, helping to lull you to sleep. And for those of you with a No Dogs in Bed policy (grrrrrr), try snuggling up on the sofa or the floor for a few minutes each day to show your affection, trust and appreciation.
You may not know this but we can easily read your emotions. Truly! In fact, a 2016 study revealed that we not only recognize your emotional-visual cues, we can also hear the difference between joy and anguish in your voices. (Just an FYI, we don’t like it when you’re sad or angry.) We probably know you better than you know yourself, just by looking at your facial expressions, reading your voice, studying your body language, and interpreting your actions.
So, remember, we’re here for you, no matter what. Talk to us, love us, and, most importantly, be yourself. We aren’t going anywhere.