How Do You Show Your Dog You Love Them?

Dogs are relational beings, just like us! And, like us, each dog is unique and may have different preferences about how they like to show and receive love. Breed could determine some preferences, but others may simply be based on your individual dog and your relationship with them. 

There are some general signs of affection, though, that most any dog will receive and understand. And as you get to know your pup’s love language better, you’ll quickly find out which signs of affection they prefer—and how to spot their demonstration of love to you.

Do Dogs Understand When You Kiss Them?

Kissing is one of the main ways we, as humans, show our affection to each other and even our dogs. But what do dogs think about kissing? Well, dogs don’t really understand kissing the way we do because it’s not a way they naturally show affection. 

Of course, dogs learn from us—our habits, actions, routines, and our body language. And they will gather over time that when you kiss them, it’s something friendly and happy. You are in a good mood, and you’re being sweet. But if you’re thinking about kissing someone else’s dog, I would strongly advise against it!

man holding puppy

Coming at a dog face-to-face can signify aggression in the canine world. So if you bring your face right up into another dog’s face, this can be intimidating and scary. And it can bring on an undesired result. 

Also, if you’re thinking about kissing your dog’s mouth, you may want to rethink that too. The idea that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s simply isn’t accurate. PetMD informs us that “a dog’s mouth and a human’s mouth both contain billions of bacteria belonging to roughly 700 different species.” And remember, dogs lick themselves, sometimes eat poop, and occasionally eat dead animals they find outside. So let’s keep the kisses on the tops of their heads.

How Do You Know Your Dog Loves You? 

Each breed is created differently. The signs of affection from your dog to you may be different than from your friend’s dog. So don’t get down on yourself if your pup doesn’t act as affectionately as another dog. But here are some helpful signs to know that your dog loves you. 

  • Your dog shows you “soft eyes”
    The term “soft eyes” may sound a little ambiguous. But it’s a real thing. And if you’ve seen a dog give you soft eyes, you know the look. Your pup will look sweet, gentle, and non-threatening—like they love you.
  • Your dog snuggles with you
    Some dog breeds are known for being extra affectionate—meaning they will love snuggling right up next to you. 

  • Your dog greets you when you come home
    If your dog greets you when you return home from being gone, it means they’ve missed you and are excited you’re back. 

  • Your dog wants to be near you
    Even though some dogs aren’t very snuggly, they still might show their affection by wanting to be in the same room or area as you. This is their way of showing that they love you. 

  • Your dog tries to play with you
    If your pup is trying to play with you, that’s a sign of affection too! It’s not just that they are bored and want to play. It’s that they are trying to spend time with you

  • Your dog leans on you
    Leaning can be different from snuggling. Your dog may lean against you or your leg as a sign of trust and love. Even if they aren’t super snuggly, this might be their way of saying, “I love you.”

  • Your dog wags his or her tail at you
    A dog wagging its tail is often a sign of doggy happiness. So if your pup likes to wag their tail around you, it’s probably because they love you.

Do Dog Breeds Show Affection Differently?

As we mentioned above, every dog breed is different. Dogs were bred to have varying personalities to serve specific jobs and purposes. And because of that, they tend to show and receive affection differently. 

Some dogs need a lot of physical and mental stimulation, and they will love going on walks with you or playing fetch and tug-of-war with you. And some dogs are exceptionally affectionate and really love to snuggle up on the couch and cuddle. Other dogs might even bring you a dead animal they found outside because they are a hunting or retrieving breed. And even though it’s super gross, they’re actually trying to make you happy and proud. 

dogs sitting on a tree branch

If you’re not sure what the personality of your dog’s breed is typically like, you can do a little research on the American Kennel Club’s website to find out more.

11 Ways to Show Your Dog You Love Them

Although every dog is a unique individual with different needs and wants, here is a list of 11 easy ways to show your dog you love them in a way they will understand. Test out each one to see which signs of affection your dog responds to and receives the best. 

  1. Talk to your dog
    No need to feel silly about talking to your dog; they genuinely listen to you! Medical News Today actually talks about how this is a great way to bond with your pup. And not only can dogs learn certain words, but they can always understand your tone. And they love that “baby talk” voice you use. 
  2. Give your dog the “soft eyes”
    In the same way that dogs give us the “soft eyes” we mentioned above, dogs are great at noticing your body language and facial expressions. If you gaze lovingly into your pup’s eyes, they will know how much you care.
  3. Smile at your dog
    The same goes for smiling! Dogs understand that a smile on your face means that you are happy and calm, and that will make them feel the same. 
  4. Cuddles and snuggles
    Even though some dogs aren’t the snuggling type, those who are will absolutely love some good cuddle time on the couch. Even if it’s just letting them lean up against you. 
  5. Pet your pup
    What dog doesn’t love getting petted? Petting is probably one of your dog’s favorite ways to receive affection from you. It feels great, and they know exactly what it means. 
  6. Take your dog for a walk
    Dogs need a lot of physical exercise—some breeds more than others. Not only will your dog appreciate the fun activity, but walking together is an excellent way for a dog and its human to bond. 
  7. Let your dog hang out with you
    Speaking of bonding, sometimes your dog just wants to be near you. So maybe you can work from home one day or take your dog to a friend’s house with you. Let your pup tag along for the ride so they can get a little extra “you” time. 
  8. Praise your pup
    Praises are great for positive reinforcement training and letting your dog know that they are a good girl or boy. It will make them feel loved. 
  9. Work on training and tricks
    Dogs also need mental stimulation. They will enjoy the challenge of working on training and tricks. And this will help you two bond, as well as teach your dog to listen to you better. 
  10. Take your dog for a ride
    Some dogs may have anxiety when it comes to car rides. But others can’t get enough of it. So if your dog seems a little stir crazy and you’re too tired to go for a walk, try taking them for a drive. 
  11. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and signals
    The more time you spend with your dog, the more you will learn their personality, quirks, and body language. And, the better you can interpret the signals they give, the better you can provide for their physical and emotional needs. 

Looking for more articles about dog-friendly activities and pet-parenting advice? Check out the Blog at