How do you know if your dog is looking at you with adoring puppy-dog eyes or if they’re really just after a yummy treat?
An interesting study by Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, questioned this assumption using 15 dogs and an MRI machine! They were scanned whilst given different contrasting stimuli like affection, praise and food. The results were fascinating - 13 out of 15 dogs were equally or far more excited to have praise and human interaction than when they were offered tempting hot dogs. Proving that our furry best friends are more than just pets, they are our precious loyal companions who want to receive and give love without an agenda.
Heartfelt Gestures: How Your Dog Expresses Love
Everyone knows that if you are welcomed home by slobbery licks all over your face by your dog it demonstrates that they love you, but did you know that there are many more subtle ways that your dog shows how important you are in their lives?
It’s not easy for your dog to give you a full body bear hug, so this is their equivalent. Leaning against your leg or body when you are sitting down is their way of expressing profound love, trust and affection.
Looking lovingly into someone's eyes is a clear way to show them that we care and feel completely happy and comfortable with them. This is just the same with our furry friends. When your dog locks eyes with you and maintains eye contact their brain releases oxytocin (also known as the love hormone) similar to what their mother’s brains release when bonding with their pups.
You may find it annoying that your pup collects socks, shoes, toys and drops them at your feet but this is their way of showing they adore and respect you and that they view you as the top of their world. Bringing you a toy to play with is also their way of showing that they want you to play with them and that they love and value you.
Not only is this behaviour very cute it also reveals your dog's complete trust and contentment in your presence. This submissive posture also has the advantages of the inevitable tummy rub from you - never underestimate the power of touch between you and your pup!
Nurturing Your Bond: Ways to Strengthen Your Connection
As the recipients of all this unconditional love, what can we as pet parents do to show our furry friends how much we love them?
Speak Their Language
Embrace the power of baby talk! Ever caught yourself speaking to your dog in a ‘baby’ voice or high pitched tone and felt instantly embarrassed in case anyone overheard you? Well, a study has shown that dogs prefer the contrast in the way you address them and are more responsive than if you speak in a monotone voice with no contrast. Talking to your dog is good for you (they never judge) and also great for fostering a deeper connection with them.
As well as being an easy way to keep your dog’s coat in great condition, regular brushing and massaging your dog’s coat are both great ways for you to bond and become closer to your dog. Did you know that a dog’s ears are full of nerve endings that when rubbed release endorphins and oxytocin aka the stress-relieving and happy hormones.
Mind and Body Exercise
Keeping your dog in good shape is so much more than just a daily walk along the same route. Elevate your dog’s wellbeing with diverse physical and mental stimulation, enriching their life with engaging activities and training sessions. Take the time to teach your dog simple tricks and keep them guessing as to what is coming next. This will keep them focused and motivated and in turn be beneficial for their physical and mental health.
Keep their diet balanced and varied and use fun enrichment toys such as Lickimats and wobble balls to get your dog to work for their meals. A highly nutritious and combined diet of wet and dry food will ensure you give the best gift of all to your best friend - a long and vibrant life filled with love and vitality. Take a look at our Caboodle Stacks which contain 7 delicious & nutritious, calorie-controlled daily trays. Each daily tray is tailored to your dog’s specific needs and provides everything they need for the day, including low calorie treats and a dental chew!
Cherish the Unconditional Love
Embrace the myriad ways your dog expresses love, from tender gestures to devoted companionship. By reciprocating their affection through care, communication, and enrichment, you forge a bond that transcends words—a bond built on unconditional love and unwavering loyalty.