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Unexpected Ways Your Dog Shows You Affection (and How to Show It Back)

Sandra is a veterinary assistant and has worked at various animal hospitals. She is a mother to a GSD, Siberian Husky and two cats.


Dogs are one of the most ideal companions—plain and simple. They're loyal, intelligent, fun to be around, and love us unconditionally. They're there for you whether you're having a bad day, you're going through a breakup, or if left in a compromising situation.

Although dogs cannot verbally express their love for us, they utilize other ways to send the message across, such as sounds and body language. You may be surprised to know that you may have been overlooking some of these signals.

Here are some unexpected signs that your dog is telling you that they love you — and how you can say it back, in a way they will understand.

They Lean Against You

When your fur baby leans against you, they're looking to you for comfort, love, and security. In the wild, they look to the pack leader for guidance and leadership, so it's only natural they would go to you in this situation, right?

They Lay With Their Back Towards You

Picture this — let’s say one evening you decide to relax in bed and read a book, or surf the web on your laptop. In comes your pooch—they jump on the bed, curl up, and lie down with their rear end close to your leg. You may overlook it, but this is a big sign that your dog trusts you and their surroundings. Dogs are naturally protective of their weak points, or their backside.

Knowing this, you may absolutely take this as a compliment.

Your Dog Looks at You With Endearing Eyes

Context comes into play with this signal. The endearing look will usually occur, accompanied by a relaxed body, wagging tail, raised eyebrows, relaxed ears, light panting, and with their mouth slightly open. Simply put, it looks like your dog is smiling at you — because they are! This typically means they’re loving and admiring you. Think about it this way — when two people love each other, they gaze into each other’s eyes, which also releases the feel-good hormone in the brain, oxytocin. It’s the same way with your K9 friend.

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Go ahead and show them the same adoration by lovingly looking back!

Yawning With You

We all know about contagious yawning. In a nutshell, this is a sign of empathy. Although there may be other instances where your dog will yawn—when your dog yawns after, or with you, they are expressing empathy towards you. How sweet is that?

Playing With Your Socks or Clothes

Occasionally, you may find your dog sleeping on your laundry, or chewing up one of your work shoes or socks. Although this habit can be annoying to us, to them, it signifies the bond they have with us, and that our scent makes them happy and at ease.

A quick tip: When I was crate training Haze, to help ease the separation anxiety, I would put a chew toy and an old t-shirt of mine in there with him, so he wouldn't feel scared while I was away. This helps to soothe your pup while you're out of the house for any reason.

Dogs are wonderful, loving, and affectionate creatures. It's no wonder they're called man's best friend.

Dogs are wonderful, loving, and affectionate creatures. It's no wonder they're called man's best friend.

How Can We Show Them We Love Them in a Way They'll Understand?

  • If they let you, you can scratch them behind their ears.
  • Extra quality playtime
  • Feeding your dog by hand
  • Fun training sessions
  • More walks
  • Belly rubs!
  • You can even take a page out of their book. For example, if Haze and I are playing indoor catch, there are times when he starts to get tired and sits in one spot. I'll slowly approach him, sit on the floor and lean on him while petting his back.
  • If I’m on my laptop writing an article like this one, sometimes Haze will jump on the bed, and lay down facing away from me. What I’ll do is close my laptop and take a quick five-minute break while nuzzling up next to him. This is otherwise known as my happy place.

Simply put, dogs make the world a better place. Now that you know the signs, next time you catch your dog gazing in your direction, or if they're chewing on that sock or shirt you've been looking for, know that they're not doing this to bother you. They're giving you a message. They're simply just saying, “I love you.”

Does your dog show any of these signs? Let me know in the poll below!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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