Dogs show affection to humans in ways other than hugs and smiles. A dog may show affection by leaning on you, bringing you a toy, or carrying your possessions around. Dogs express their emotions in a variety of ways ranging from super subtle to totally obvious, so it can be tough to tell what’s a positive expression or a negative expression.
You can tell if your dog loves you by looking for these 10 common signs of affection.
Holding Eye Contact
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or threatened, would you stare deeply into their eyes? No way! Long, sustained eye contact is reserved for people you love, trust, and feel safe with.
The same goes for dogs. Maintaining eye contact isn’t just a useful tool while you’re training your dog–it can help you create a deep bond, too. In fact, when your dog looks at you, its brain releases oxytocin. Known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is the same hormone mothers’ brains release when they’re first bonding with their babies.
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.
Leaning Against You
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.
Whether you’re sitting on the floor or couch, if your dog leans against you, it means it feels 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.
Sleeping in Your Bedroom
If you don’t allow your dog to sleep in your bed, but it still likes to sleep in your bedroom, it really loves you. Why? Wanting to be close to you while you’re sleeping signals that it’s totally loyal and doesn’t want to be separated from the pack.
(And if you’re not going to allow it in the bed, why not invest in a super comfy dog bed?)
Getting Happy When You Get Home
Does your dog jump up and down, lick your hands and face, bring you its favorite toy, or even “excited pee” a little bit when you get home from work, school, or errands? Yep, it’s absolutely thrilled to see you! And, chances are, you’re very excited to see your pup, too.
Carrying Your Shoes and Stinky Socks Around
Pooches who are attached to their owners also love their owners’ scents—and may raid your shoe pile or laundry basket for stinky socks, T-shirts, or even underwear.
Stealing shoes and dirty clothes aren’t always the best thing—especially if your dog likes to chew—but you can prevent inappropriate chewing by giving your dog plenty of engaging toys or safe chew toys.
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.
Seeking Physical Contact
Physical affection can be important for your relationship with your dog. We’re not saying you should pick up your dog and give it a super tight bear hug. Rather, pets, cuddles, leans, and maybe even gentle hugs are strong signals that you and your dog are truly bonded.
Peeing When Seeing You
No, it’s not a sign that its potty training is regressing. Dogs, especially puppies, may pee a little bit when they get excited, but most dogs grow out of this behavior and are able to hold their urine when they’re happy to see you.
Bringing You the Favorite Toy
If your dog brings you its favorite toy, it doesn’t just mean it wants to play—although wanting to play is a major sign of puppy love, too. As your pup’s pack leader, it’s presenting its most prized, most beloved possession to you. Talk about an honor, huh?
Smiling at You
Nope, it’s not your imagination! Some dogs actually learn how to “smile” by pulling their lips back to reveal a big, wide, toothy grin. Reciprocating with a big smile and happy voice will show your dog you love it, too.