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How to Tell Your Dog You Love Them: Tips and Tricks for Strengthening Your Bond

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to tell your dog you love them

Canines don’t speak our language, so what’s left as a dog owner is brainstorming how to tell your dog you love them. Despite our vast differences, dogs, being perceptive to our emotions and body language, understand affection through the subtle cues we provide.

Expressing love towards our canines goes beyond just giving them a pat on the head or a treat. It’s about creating a nurturing environment that provides them with emotional stability and a sense of security. This way, your canine will know that they are part of your loving pack, as you are theirs.

PubMed research shows that the dog–human dynamic involves attachment bonds similar to those of human caregiver–infant relationships, proving just how deep it goes. Still, it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language and ensure they are comfortable with the level of affection you are showing them. 

In the silent language of companionship, dogs, and humans share a unique bond that transcends words. We already covered ways dogs show affection in our linked article, and now it’s time to return the favor by showing your pup just how much you mean to them.

Key takeaways on how to show your dog how much you love them:

  • Commit to a consistent routine;
  • Communicate effectively;
  • Take care of their physical health;
  • Engage in activities they enjoy;
  • Provide regular exercise and playtime;
  • Offer physical affection;
  • Respect their nature and individuality;
  • Set boundaries and rules;
  • Invest in their social skills;
  • Address behavioral issues; and
  • Provide a nutritious diet.

We’ll go into why these tips work in the following sections. 

This sweet Aussie’s eyes say it all about the bond with her mom:

Ways To Tell Your Dog You Love Them

If someone looks at you funny for telling them your dog is your daughter or son, just tell them you’re backed by science. This is because the PubMed study we cited above illustrated that the dog-human bond is strikingly similar to one between humans and their kids.

This is because dog-human relationships have all four aspects of attachment bonds present in human caregiver–infant relationships. These include:

  • The dog seeking out their owner to cope with stress;
  • The absence of the owner triggers separation stress;
  • Less intense stress as long as the attachment figure is present;
  • And freedom to investigate unusual objects in the presence of an attachment figure (secure base effect).

So, as you can see, your dog is your kid, and more importantly, a dog needs to be loved to thrive. Here are a few ways to show your affection:

1. Physical Touch

Physical affection is the most obvious way dogs understand our doting. Dogs are social animals and thrive on attention and affection from their owners. Physical touch, such as petting, cuddling, and your dog leaning against you, can provide comfort and reassurance to our pups.

A gentle pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears can go a long way in communicating your bond with your dog. Physical bonding has been shown to shoot up happy hormones like oxytocin in both dogs and owners.

It’s essential to be aware of your dog’s body language and to respect their boundaries. Not all dogs enjoy being hugged or kissed, so it’s essential to pay attention to their body language and adjust your behavior accordingly.

2. Spending Quality Time Together on Your Dog’s Favorite Activities

When showing dogs fondness, spending quality time together is essential. This means engaging in activities that your dog enjoys and that allow you to bond with them. Here are two great ways to spend quality time with your dog:

  • Engaging in Play like fetch, tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, and puzzle toys. 
  • Going for Walks: Walking provides exercise for both you and your dog, and it’s an opportunity for you to explore new places together and satisfy your dog’s curiosity.

Once you know what your dog loves, make sure to set aside time each day to engage in those activities with them. This will not only show your dog how much you care, but it will also strengthen your bond and improve their overall well-being.

3. Maintain A Calm Environment and Mind

Maintain a calm and relaxed environment to ensure that your dogs feel comfortable. This means avoiding loud noises, sudden movements, and chaotic energy. 

We can also create a calming atmosphere by playing soft music, lighting candles, or diffusing dog-appeasing pheromone oils. Additionally, observe if your dog suddenly gets scared of something in the house and work on eliminating it if possible.

In addition to creating a calm environment, we must have a calm mindset. Dogs are highly intuitive experts at picking up on our emotions and can sense when we’re feeling stressed or anxious. If we’re feeling overwhelmed, taking a few deep breaths and centering ourselves before interacting with our dogs is important.

4. Invest In A Good Diet

Investing in a quality diet is one of the best things we can do for them. Feeding our dogs a balanced and nutritious diet helps them maintain a healthy weight and overall health. A good diet is a cheat code to a long life. Who wouldn’t want their dogs to live forever?

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a dog food is the quality of its ingredients. Look for foods that contain high-quality protein sources, such as chicken, beef, or fish. Avoid foods that contain fillers, by-products, or artificial preservatives.

In addition to choosing high-quality dog food, it’s also essential to pay attention to portion sizes. Chubby dogs are not cute because overfeeding our dogs can lead to obesity. This can increase the risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues.

Another way to invest in our dog’s diet is to offer them healthy snacks and treats. Instead of reaching for store-bought treats, often high in calories and low in nutrition, consider offering your dog fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, and apples.

5. Make Sure Your Dog Is Trained and Socialized

Training allows your dog to spend uninterrupted quality time with you and makes them a better pet for you. Not only does training help keep them safe, but it also makes them happier and more well-adjusted. Here are a few tips to ensure your dog is properly trained and socialized:

  • Start Early: Puppies are like sponges and can learn quickly, so take advantage of this time to teach them basic commands and introduce them to new people and situations.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques to train your dog. This means rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and affection. Avoid punishment-based training methods, as they can be harmful and lead to behavioral issues.
  • Consistency: Be consistent with your training and socialization efforts.
  • Socialization: Socializing your dog means exposing them to new people, animals, and environments. This can help prevent fear and aggression towards strangers and other dogs. 

6. Free Your Dog Of Behavioral Problems Like Anxiety or Aggression

Behavioral problems like anxiety or aggression can make your dog feel stressed and unhappy, which can make it difficult for them to feel secure. Additionally, ScienceDirect studies show that a good dog is a loved dog, with dogs having behavioral problems being more okay to be relinquished. 

There are a few things you can do to help your dog overcome these problems and feel more relaxed and happy:

  • Identify the cause of the problem: This could be anything from separation anxiety to fear of loud noises or other dogs. Once you know what’s causing the problem, you can work on a solution.
  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment: Anxious or aggressive dogs may benefit from a safe and comfortable environment. This could include a cozy bed, a quiet room, or a crate.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is a great way to help your dog overcome behavioral problems. This could include treats, praise, or affection.
  • Seek professional help: If your dog’s behavioral problems are severe, it may be necessary to seek professional help. This could include working with a dog trainer or behaviorist. This dog trainer worked wonders on this dog:
@miraclek9training

EXTREMELY REACTIVE DOG BEFORE & AFTER Hubert started behavioral modification training with us to address his extreme dog reactivity. He was young when he began training and he has made INCREDIBLE progress. Before it was nearly impossible for his owners to walk him anywhere that a dog may be present. Now he can stabilize in his commands on walks. Great work to Hubert and his owners for their commitment to his training. #dogsoftiktok #befofeandafter #transformation #dogtraining #dogtrainer #dogaggression #dogreactivity

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

7. Teach Your Dog Lifesaving Commands

As pet owners, it is important to teach our dogs commands that can save their lives in emergency situations. Here are some lifesaving commands that you can teach your dog:

Come

This command can save your dog’s life in situations where they may be running towards danger or about to get into a dangerous situation. 

Stay

The stay command can be useful in situations where your dog may be in danger, or you need them to stay in one place. To teach your dog to stay, start by having them sit. Then, hold your hand up and say “stay” while stepping back. If your dog stays in place, reward them with treats or praise.

Leave It

Dogs are naturally curious and may try to eat things that are harmful to them. Teaching your dog to leave it can prevent them from eating something dangerous. To teach your dog to leave it, start by placing a treat on the ground and covering it with your hand. 

When your dog sniffs or tries to get the treat, say “leave it” and reward them with a different treat when they stop trying to get the first one.

8. Avoiding Punishment and Negative Actions

When it comes to showing love to our dogs, it’s crucial to not only focus on positive actions but also to avoid negative ones. A study by Ana Vieira de Castro shows that negative punishment may lead to long-term depression in dogs. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid yelling or physical punishment: Dogs don’t understand yelling or hitting as a form of discipline. It can actually harm the bond between you and your dog, and can lead to fear and aggression.
  • Don’t withhold affection as punishment: Dogs thrive on love and attention, and withholding it as a form of punishment can be confusing and hurtful to them.
  • Avoid ignoring your dog: Dogs need social interaction and attention, and ignoring them for extended periods of time can lead to loneliness and anxiety.
  • Don’t force your dog into uncomfortable situations: If your dog is uncomfortable with a certain situation, forcing them to face it can be stressful and traumatic. Instead, work on desensitizing them slowly and patiently.

9. Using a Soft Tone of Voice

Dogs respond better to baby talk, a study by communications biology found. By using a soft tone of voice, like you would with an infant, we can show our dogs how much we care for them. It’s a simple yet effective way to strengthen the bond between us and our dogs. A soft voice is not effective when training or reprimanding your dog.

10. Improve Communication & Understand Your Dog’s Body Language

Understanding your dog’s body language is crucial when it comes to communicating with them. Dogs communicate primarily through body language, so paying attention to their signals is essential. Here are some tips to help you improve communication and understand your dog’s body language:

  • Pay attention to your dog’s ears: If they are up and forward, they are alert and interested. If their ears are pinned back, they may feel anxious or scared.
  • Watch their tail: A wagging tail doesn’t always mean a happy dog. A slow, low wag can indicate fear or uncertainty. A high, fast wag usually means your dog is happy and excited.
  • Look at their eyes: Direct eye contact is a way for dogs to bond with their owners. If your dog avoids eye contact, they may be feeling anxious or submissive.
  • Learn their body posture: A relaxed, loose body posture generally means your dog is comfortable and happy. A stiff, tense posture can indicate fear or aggression.

11. Keep Up A Good Grooming Routine

One way to show physical affection is through grooming. Brushing your dog’s fur not only helps to keep them clean and healthy but also provides an opportunity for bonding. Here are some tips to help you keep up a good grooming routine:

  • Brush your dog’s coat regularly to prevent matting and tangling. This will also help distribute natural oils throughout their fur, keeping it healthy and shiny.
  • Bathe your dog as needed, but not too frequently, as it can dry out their skin. Use a dog-specific shampoo and conditioner, and rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue.
  • Trim your dog’s nails regularly to prevent them from becoming too long and causing discomfort. If you’re unsure how to do this, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian.
  • Clean your dog’s ears regularly to prevent infections. Use a gentle ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls to wipe away any dirt or debris.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to prevent dental issues. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, and make it a positive experience for them by rewarding them with treats or praise.

Regular grooming sessions can help create a sense of closeness between you and your dog. They also show other people that you love your dog.

12. Consistency in Showing Love: Stick To A Routine

We all know that dogs thrive on routine. They love knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Establishing a routine is not only beneficial for your dog’s physical and mental health, but it can also strengthen your bond with them. Here are a few tips on how to stick to a routine with your dog:

  • Establish a feeding schedule: Feed your dog at the same time every day. This will help regulate their digestion and prevent accidents in the house. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to spend quality time with your dog.
  • Set a regular exercise routine: Dogs need exercise to stay healthy and happy. Whether it’s a morning walk or a game of fetch in the park, make sure to schedule regular exercise time with your dog.
  • Create a consistent bedtime routine: Just like humans, dogs need a good night’s sleep. Establish a bedtime routine that includes a comfortable sleeping area and a calming activity, like a bedtime story or a belly rub.
  • Stick to a consistent training schedule: If you’re trying to teach your dog new tricks or behaviors, consistency is key. Set aside time each day to work on training and stick to it.

By following these 12 tips, your dog will know that you love them. Remember, every dog is different and may respond differently to different forms of affection. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and behavior to determine what they enjoy most.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I show my dog that I care for them?

There are many ways to show your dog that you care for them. Some of the most effective ways include spending quality time with them, providing them with plenty of exercise and playtime, feeding them a healthy and balanced diet, and giving them lots of love and attention.

What are some ways to make my dog feel loved?

Making your dog feel loved is all about showing them that you care. Some effective ways to do this include giving them lots of physical affection, such as petting and cuddling, praising them when they do something good, and providing them with plenty of toys and treats.

How do I communicate love to my dog?

Dogs communicate primarily through body language, so paying attention to your dog’s body language and responding accordingly is important. Some effective ways to communicate love to your dog include using a calm and soothing tone of voice, making eye contact, and using positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.

What are some signs that my dog knows I love them?

Dogs are very intuitive and can pick up on subtle cues that indicate that you love them. Some signs that your dog knows you love them include wagging their tail, cuddling with you, following you around, and responding positively to your commands.

How can I apologize to my dog when I make a mistake?

Apologizing to your dog is essential when you make a mistake, like shouting at them. Some effective ways to apologize include using a calm and soothing tone of voice, offering physical affection, and providing your dog with a treat or toy.

What are some ways to make my dog feel safe and secure?

Making your dog feel safe and secure is all about providing them with a stable and consistent environment. Some effective ways to do this include providing them with a comfortable and secure place to sleep, establishing a regular routine, and providing them with plenty of exercise and playtime.

Final Thoughts

You can show your dog how much they mean to you by spending quality time, exercising and playing with them, giving them a healthy diet, grooming them, and offering positive reinforcement and rewards.

Above all, the most important thing you can do to show your dog you love them is to simply be there for them, providing them with the love, attention, and care they need to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.