Dogs are loving, and loyal to the end, and they’re just about the best friend anybody could ever want. They love unconditionally and spend their time entertaining, loving, and protecting you. In return, you house, feed, insure, provide medical care and love them right back. But how do you say, “I love you” to a dog in a way that they understand? Here’s how to show your appreciation and affection for your canine companions in dog language.
Make eye contact
That long look in the eyes is the territory of the domestic dog, and something that has helped cement canines in our lives. We have co-evolved on this one. Looking into a dog’s eyes reassures him. It also releases oxytocin in your brain, which floods you with a sense of love. Win-win!
Use touch a lot
Touch is a great tool for saying, “you are the one.” Or, “be brave, I am here for you.” Or, “everything is fine, you’re safe.” Use your whole body to touch your dog often – a stroke of the neck, a hand on the shoulder, a cuddle on the couch. This includes leaning against each other, so don’t move your standing leg if pooch is slowly putting more and more of his weight against it. It will also happen when you’re sitting, and if you have two dogs, you might just have a Netflix wedge. Aren’t they the best?
It’s all about the brows
Ever notice Rover raising his brows when he looks you in the eye? He’s saying, “you make me happy.” Try saying it back.
Fondle the ears (gently)
Touch is tender, and the ears are, too. A dog that trusts you will let you feel the softest fur behind the ears and this reinforces the bond between you. Do it softly so that you don’t startle your doggle. If you get a growl or a cower, there might be a problem with the inner ear that a vet needs to inspect.
Take a walk, have a nap, but do it WITH your dog. He hints about this one all the time – following you wherever you go (or trying to), sitting by you when the whole garden and all its birds are waiting to play. Companionship goes both ways and is especially meaningful to a pack animal like your pooch.
Yawn – it’s exciting!
Has Hubert copied your tired yawns? He’s responding to your unwitting request for reassurance. A yawn in Dog means, “I’m not feeling so sure of myself,” and a yawn in return means, “you’re just fine as you are. Chill, my dude.” So, if he yawns, it’s not about fatigue, and you know what to do: yawn right back. And then go have a nap together, anyway. 😉
Grooming is an extension of touch, and attention, and while dogs are not cats, they are tuned into your moods and attitudes, and they definitely do like to feel that you think they look good. So, give them a light brush if they’re shedding (losing winter hair) or any time just to make them look fine. Two cautions here: if there’s a skin complaint or a wound, you’ll want to avoid a large swathe of that area and if they run away or snap at you, there might be something to have the vet investigate. Is yours a double-coated dog? Don’t ever shave your double-coated dog. The undercoat protects him from sunburn and insulates him. Without it, he will not be cooler, he will burn and freeze! On top of this, the hair will not grow back the same way as cutting alters the texture. This could ruin a perfectly good coat.
FINALLY, remember that this is just the beginning of the dog-human conversation (but you started it off right!).