Do dogs love us? When you stare into those lovable puppy eyes, you're probably wondering if your dog feels the same way about you as you do them. There are so many affectionate dog breeds out there, but you may still be wondering if your canine friend really do love you.
Dogs are known as man's best friend, but do they feel love for you? Do they have any feelings, or are they merely protective of you because you provide them with sustenance?
While nobody knows what dogs think since, well, they don't have language, there is evidence to suggest that dogs do, indeed, love their owners. Dogs are smart and the way they express that love is, as you might expect, different for a dog than a human. A human can say, "I love you." Since a dog can't use those words, they find more creative ways to express those feelings!
What Does Science Say About This? Do Dogs Love Us?
There is scientific evidence that suggests that dogs might, indeed, truly love us. What's even more remarkable is that a dog's love might be on the same level of emotion as a human experience. In other words, your dog might love you exactly as you love them!
To better understand why that might be the case, it's essential to examine the scientific evidence. The first scientific finding of relevance to this topic is the "oxytocin-gaze positive loop." In humans, when you gaze into someone's eyes (think a mom and newborn gazing into each other's eyes) or when you hug someone, there's a chemical that your body releases called oxytocin. This chemical is a neurotransmitter that appears to facilitate bonding. Scientists believe that this chemical promotes great human-animal bond.
It turns out that when you stare into your dog's eyes, your brain releases this same chemical. That's impressive, but what's even more impressive is that your dog releases the same neurotransmitter when looking at you! This fun fact means that when you and your dog stare at each other, you're forming the same special bond!
There are other signs your dog loves you. For starters, dogs are intelligent and can recognize human emotions. When researchers played a sound bite that had a particular feeling (anger, frustration, happiness, etc.), dogs looked at the human face that matched that emotion more than the other faces on the page. So clearly, dogs are capable of understanding and processing human emotions. That's something that would only likely happen if your dog loved and cared about you!
Yes, dogs do love us!
What Are the Signs Your Dog Loves You?
There's clear and convincing evidence that dogs can feel and show love. Of course, the question is, how do you know what the love of a dog is? What will dogs do differently when they love you than when they don't?
While there are no scientific answers to this question, some behavioral changes that vets and dog owners believe signify that the dog is showing love. There are three, in particular, that you should know.
First, remember that eye contact releases the brain chemical oxytocin. Therefore, if your dog consistently seeks eye contact with you, then there's a good chance that your dog loves you! They tend to seek eye contact with the humans in their life that they feel safe, loved by, and with whom they can enjoy their company.
Second, much like humans do with each other, dogs use their physical space to show love. They lean into you, they climb on top of you, or they snuggle up with you at night. Think about it: you likely wouldn't want to share physical space with someone you don't trust, and neither does your dog!
Finally, they're happy to see you! This trait is one of the most obvious ones, yet it's the one that many owners miss. If your dog can't wait for you to get home, that's generally a sign your dog loves you. Yes, it's possible that they want some food or to go out for a walk, but more often than not, your dog is genuinely happy you're home.
Do Dogs Love Us? Yes!
Ultimately, yes, dogs do love us. The science is pretty exact on this. The existence of the same chemicals that humans use to bond with each other, the ability to recognize human emotions, and the anecdotal evidence suggesting that dogs feel real love are all relatively convincing. Indeed, the love of a dog is often like the love that a human feels.
So the next time you gaze into your dog's eyes, you can have confidence that your pup truly feels the same way about you as you do about them!