Does Your Dog Really Love You? How You Can Tell for Sure
Man’s Favorite Animal Companion
Canines were the very first animal man domesticated. For more than 10,000 years, canines have helped us find and procure food, alerted and protected us in the face of danger, herded our livestock, and helped carry our belongings from one place to another. More recently, dogs have been trained to locate drugs, bombs, escaped prisoners, and lost humans. Some can even detect human diseases and anticipate imminent escalations of certain conditions. They can also be trained to guide the blind and to aid humans with other debilitating handicaps. Of course, the role of most dogs today is to be a loyal companion. As a species, we humans love our canine friends…but do they love us, or do they just use us to fulfill their needs? The following information might give you some clues as to your pooch’s real feelings.
You've probably heard the old saying, "Sharing is caring." Is your dog willing to share with you? Answer the following questions:
- Does your dog bring you its toys?
- Does it allow you to handle its food bowl or food, even when it’s eating?
- Does it allow you to handle its bed?
- Does it give up its favorite chair when you want to sit down?
Affection is usually a sign of love, but not always. Dogs can be manipulative, and the smarter ones learn quickly how to “push our buttons.” When your pooch gives you affection is often an important factor in measuring your dog’s love for you. Check these out:
- Does your dog give you affection even when it doesn’t want anything (like food, water, or to go outside)?
- Does your dog follow you from room to room during the day?
- Does it want to sleep next to you or in the same room you’re in?
- Will your dog give up a comfy spot in another room just so it can be next to you, even if it has to lie on a hard floor?
- Is your dog elated to see you when you come home, even if you’ve been away for just a short period of time?
Not all dogs are protective by nature, but many are. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll attack a person or animal they see as threatening you. Some might, but there are other ways to show they’re in protective mode:
- When a strange person or dog approaches you, does your dog stand between you and the other person or dog?
- If you and another human are conversing in raised voices or are using excited gestures, does your dog become suddenly interested?
- Does your dog alert you when someone knocks at your door?
- Does your dog let you know when it sees someone or something strange in your yard?
Recent studies reveal that dogs are capable of amazing empathy for humans. More than any other animal, dogs can often read their owner’s emotions and act accordingly. Think about these:
- Does your dog move away from you and rest quietly when you’re angry?
- Does it rest its head on your lap or show other forms of affection when you’re sad?
- Is it happy and excited when you’re happy?
- Provided your dog is capable, health wise, is it always ready to play when you are?
Respect is a big part of doggie love. Your dog should see you as its pack leader and willingly give you its undying respect and loyalty. See if your pet does the following:
- Does your dog allow you to go through a door first, when entering or exiting a room or building?
- Does it show respect to the other members of your pack, provided you've properly introduced them?
- When on leash, does it walk slightly behind you or even with you, but it never walks ahead of you?
- Does it follow commands the first time you give them (provided it has been adequately trained)?
Another big part of canine love is trust. Your dog should trust you completely. Wild canines in packs unquestioningly and trustingly follow the lead of the pack leader. Since you are your pet’s pack leader, it should have total trust in you. Does your fur kid do the following?
- Does your dog sometimes roll over onto its back and expose its belly to you?
- Does it come to you for comfort when it’s scared or in pain?
- Does it go willingly with you to strange places when it’s on leash?
Does Your Dog Really Love You?
So…how did your pooch score? You didn’t have to “check all the boxes” to know your shaggy pal really loves you. Each dog is different, so not every adoring pooch is going to exhibit all the above behaviors. If you were able to answer “yes” to most of the questions, you can rest assured you are truly loved by your canine friend! I created this questionnaire based on interviews with veterinarians, on information from dog behaviorists, and from my decades of experience owning, breeding, training, and handling canines.