12 Easy Ways To Show Your Dog How Much You Love Them

Regardless of whether or not it’s Valentine’s Day, today is the best day to start giving your dog some extra lovin’.

February 14th, 2020

Most people think of Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to shower their romantic partner with love.

Unfortunately, with all the time spent on planning a successful date night, it’s also a day many dogs end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to our affection.

The good news is, you’re reading this article now! And regardless of whether or not it’s Valentine’s Day, today is the best day to start giving your dog some extra lovin’.

A dog standing on her two hind legs, reaching for a treat.

How exactly should we express that love? We have a small language barrier between us and our fur kids…

So for all our hooman and doggy friends, we’re introducing 12 easy ways to show your dog just how much you love them. Some are easy, some a little more involved… but all will translate into a happy dog with a wagging tail.

Praise Them Lots

It’s so easy, and perhaps so obvious. But a lot of pet parents simply don’t do it enough.

No dog is perfect. Even the most angelic of dogs have the occasional mishap. As pet parents, we are often quick to snap on every single instance of misbehavior.

But what about when your dog IS behaving well? Perhaps Fido is laying in the living room quietly as you read this article right now. Why not praise him effusively and offer a treat for being a good boy?

Noticing when your dog is behaving well and praising them not only communicates your love–it also helps reinforce their good behavior. So make it a habit!

Be More Excited

Dogs have been dubbed “man’s best friend” for a variety of reasons, but among the most impressive is their uncanny ability to sense human emotions.

In fact, studies have gone so far as to show that dogs can “hear our emotions” simply by listening to the way we vocalize.

A Labrador with one floppy ear flipped as she smiles wide for the camera.
What is that you're saying??

This, along with analyzing our body language, gives our dogs all the tools they need to dissect what we’re feeling.

And to go one step further, your dog often mirrors your emotions. You may have even noticed this yourself.

For example, if you get excited, your dog tends to become more jumpy as well. If you’re sulking, your dog may get anxious too.

This means that whenever you’re interacting with your dog–whether it be playing, training, or walking outside–let out more of that positive energy.

Your dog will follow your lead, and you’ll both enjoy your time together more.

Be More Engaged

Do you give your dog your full attention when interacting with them?

We get more out of our face-to-face interactions with other people when screens are not involved. So why would it be any different with our pets?

Watching TV while mindlessly tossing a tennis ball for your dog to fetch? Taking a walk together but have your head buried in your phone the entire time?

A dog retrieving a tennis ball from a small lake.

To show your dog how much you truly care, turn those screens off and be more engaging with them. You’ll also develop a much stronger bond over time.

Try Baby Talking

Going off the previous two points, a really good way to be both exciting and engaging is to try baby talk.

Some dogs (especially older dogs) don’t react any differently to baby talk. Puppies tend to react more positively. You never know how your dog will react until you try it!

Dogs tend to register higher-pitched sounds better than lower-pitched ones. Pair this with words from the “dog lexicon,” such as treat, walk, and good.

Getting comfortable using baby talk with your dog is something that gets better over time. I was definitely very self-conscious about it at first. Now, I’ll make just about any weird sound in an attempt to entertain Yuna.

Know How Your Dog Likes To Be Petted

Do you know where your dog likes to be petted?

Contrary to popular belief, dogs generally don’t like being pet on the head. Other sensitive areas include the ears, paws, and tail.

Instead, go for some of these common happy spots: under the chin, around the neck, chest, belly, behind the ears (more on this one later), shoulder areas, base of the tail, and the butt.

Figure out where they like it!

Try Some Ear Rubs!

Giving your dog an ear rub might well be one of the best sensations they could ever experience.

Many articles describe how a simple behind the ear rub can literally make your dog high because of all the endorphins that get released.

These endorphins are the same hormones that we humans secrete after exercise. They help our dogs feel relaxed and happy.

A dog walking happily in a dog park, with the wind blowing her ears up.

Because dogs are usually very sensitive around the ears, make sure your dog is comfortable when rubbing. Hint: you can usually tell when they’re enjoying it–they’ll lean right in as if asking for more.

Cook For Them

I don’t know about your dog, but for Yuna, if you feed her one delicious treat, you’ve just become her best friend for life.

Many people say that the fastest way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach!

The majority of dog diets out there could be improved by making a few simple, easy tweaks. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to satisfy your dog here–your dog will probably go nuts over some boiled chicken or ground turkey.

I mean, just look at how great this looks!

An overhead shot of a dog food recipe, consisting of chicken breast, green beans, egg, and kibble.

We’ll have some easy boiled food recipes for dogs coming real soon!

Gaze Into Your Dog’s Eyes

Our dogs are unbelievably observant. To the point where you basically forfeit your privacy the moment you become a dog owner.

Wherever you go, your dog follows… and stares. With eyes as sticky as taffy.

Now, direct eye contact with a dog you’re unfamiliar with could be misconstrued as aggressive and confrontational. But with your own pet, gazing into their eyes can release oxytocin: the “love drug” hormone (9).

I play staring contests with Yuna all the time. She usually wins. Everybody should play with their own dogs.

A dog in a yellow raincoat on a flight of stairs, looking straight into the camera.

Tell Your Dog About Your Day

While you’re gazing into your dog eyes, try talking to them in a soft voice. Tell them about how your day went.

You might feel like a lunatic, and the conversation might feel very one-sided, but your dog probably wouldn’t mind. They may even perch their ears and attempt to understand what you’re saying.

Speaking to your dog often can help out in other situations. For example, the more accustomed they get to your voice, the more likely they’ll come when called outside.

You will also benefit from this exercise. Talking things out will help you avoid keeping your thoughts and anxieties bottled up.

Our dogs will never judge us. So share some of your deepest concerns with them. You’ll feel a stronger connection to your dog, and perhaps even improved mental health!

Lean On Them

When you come home from a long day of work, how does your dog usually respond?

Whereas many humans greet with a smile, handshake, or hug, it’s normal for a dog to get real jumpy and cuddly with you.

In fact, you may notice your dog tends to press against your legs or try digging their head into you. This has been referred to by some as the “doggie hug.” It’s one way dogs seek affection!

In general, dogs don’t really enjoy human hugs. That’s why the “doggie hug” is a really valuable tidbit of doggy language to learn.

If you want to show your dog you love them, simply mimic this behavior on them! Simply lean in closer to your dog during your next couch cuddle session.

Allow Your Dog To Sleep On Your Bed

This one may get a bit controversial, since by the numbers slightly half of all dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their beds.

A dog taking a nap on a beach chaise chair.

Granted, it’s not for every dog. Personally, I’ve always allowed Yuna to sleep on my bed because she’s the least aggressive dog on the planet. It also works out well for me because I’m a deep sleeper and can make it through Yuna’s movement.

According to studies, when a dog sleeps with a human, this is the ultimate display of love and trust our dogs can give, because that is when they are most vulnerable.

Our dogs naturally want to be close to us. If your dog is well-behaved, I’m sure you’ll both feel more calm and comforted on the same bed.

Give Them The Occasional Surprise

There are literally an endless number of ways to show your dog how much you love them.

Opportunity is everywhere. Break out of your routine every once in a while and do something fun together–just you and your pup.

Try a formal training class. It’s a great way to mentally stimulate your pet, teach them new skills, and improve your communication with them.

Go out for a nice dog-friendly hike. Visit a dog-friendly restaurant or pub, or take them to an indoor play center. Bring them to the beach. Go kayaking. Try out agility or another dog sport.

The possibilities are endless. Help your dog live their best life. How much fun you have with them is limited only by yourself!

A dog posing in front of some brilliant holiday light-adorned trees and buildings
From a short weekend retreat in Leavenworth, WA

So there you have it–12 incredibly easy ways to show your dog how much you love them.

Did we make or miss any of your favorite ways to show love to your dog? Let us know!

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