Any intuitive pet parent can attest to the fact that the most beautiful gift dogs have to offer us, is their unconditional love. They are eternally grateful for the care we give them and they live for our love and approval. “Man’s best friend” will always be ecstatic to see you and they’re forever brimming with unfiltered love for you.
But affection between humans and pets can be complicated. It’s not possible for humans and their pets to bond the same way people do. So, how do we give our loyal canine companions the affection they deserve and show that we love them back?
To express your love, it is important to understand about animal behavior and how expressions, social cues, and actions could be interpreted by your pup.
Letting our dogs know that we love them each and every day can be easy with simple acts and gestures. Try these affectionate activities and simple adjustments and you can reap big rewards for the relationship between you and your dog. You can make everyday Love Your Pet Day!
Walks & Adventures
As a pet owner, you’re likely well aware that providing your pet with plenty of exercise each day is Canine Care 101. A walk provides your pooch with exercise and, of course, gives your dog a chance to meet their biological needs. But there's also another reason why that daily stroll is so important—and it has to do with instinct.
A walk gives your dog mental stimulation, by investigating every smell, sight, and sound. As your dog walks, they’re gathering new information about the territory.
Dogs thrive on routine and schedule, and daily walks and adventures build trust, communication and will help your dog understand how much you love and care for them.
Tip: The truth is, everyone needs a break from the booked-solid lifestyle, including your dog! Try taking your pup for a quick walk during your break times. Even if it’s short, dogs love to roam outside and you get to take a breather and refresh. Before you and your dog go to bed, treat your pet to another walk outside. This will give your dog a chance to meet their biological needs, and it’s a pleasant way for you and your pup to end the day together!
Everyone needs to have some personal space, and the same holds true for our dogs! Dogs try so hard to please us and are our constant companions, therefore, it is the only reasonable to understand that at some point they may need some distance from humans or other dogs.
Having a place that is off limits to strangers and children is important for your dog’s wellbeing. It’s so important to provide a safe spot where your dog can voluntarily retreat to if they feel overwhelmed, even if they rarely use it. Allowing your dog to decide when they’d like personal space or if they feel like being affectionate, is actually a very empathetic and respectful response on the part of the human.
Dogs are individuals. Therefore the ‘personal space zone’ is a different size for different pets. For some the radius is small and for others much larger.
So, whether this takes the form of an entire room dedicated to your dog’s living quarters, or if your dog’s personal space consists of just their crate, picking the right place and type of room for your dog to contain their own ‘territory’ is very important.
Experiment with different areas of your home until your dog finds the perfect place. Or, if your dog has a preferred location already, place a cozy bed or crate in the chosen area with chew toys and treats nearby to make it all about them.
Also, ensure that all of the family, including children, and any visitors that you might invite into your home understand and respect the area that your dog calls his own.
Tip: To some dogs, especially rescued dogs who might have been abused or neglected, personal space is way more crucial. Older dogs, especially those with illnesses or pain, may be less tolerant than they were at a younger age.
Teaching your pet something fun using positive reinforcement techniques, like sit, stay or spin can be rewarding for you both. You need to exercise your dog’s brain so they get smarter, rather than letting their brain sit there.
Training your pet to perform a trick allows you to simply have fun and work on building your relationship, while each new behavior you teach provides you with yet another useful way to channel your dog’s energy into something positive.
Dogs enjoy learning tricks and earning reinforcers during training and these reinforcers may be a food reward or a very happy, excited owner who is offering praise. Go for tricks that will make you smile and laugh, along with tasty treats. Your dog will find your happy attention rewarding and their overall obedience, confidence and manners are also likely to improve.
Understanding Body Language
Dogs respond to your gestures and body language in a way that you may not be aware of. Not sure if you’re getting the message of love across? Your dog’s body language will tell you. Dogs are individuals, and so have their own unique body language. Like any other language, tail wags and facial expressions have a vocabulary and grammar that needs to be understood. They’re communication devices, and with some careful observation, they’ll tell you a little bit about how a dog is feeling.
Look for all of the dog body languages of love:
- a wagging tail. Learn more about tail signals
- eye contact
- a raised eyebrow
Leave Out The Hugs & Kisses
Dog owners also benefit from learning which human ways of showing affection make no sense to your dog and could potentially upset them. Recently, behavioral research saddened dog lovers when it showed that some dogs feel trapped or pinned down when you hug and kiss them. If you kiss your dog, they may think you’re trying to play or assert your place in the household hierarchy, as a quick peck on the head is similar to a playful nip on the neck or a gesture of domination.
Just like uncomfortable people, dogs will demonstrate that they don’t like what’s happening. It’s your job to pay attention and be respectful of their wishes. Conversely, keep an eye out for the warning signs of and anxious dog:
- a tucked tail
- lip licking
- your dog’s eyes are popping out or averted
- they tense up,
- they stop wagging their tail,
- they close their mouth
- they turn their head
Tip: Never force an uncomfortable dog to endure close physical contact. Since they’re unable to tell you when enough is enough, they may react aggressively to make you stop.
Now you can express your true feelings to your dog that will leave no doubt in their mind about your love and devotion. Give our tips a try and you may be pleasantly surprised at how much of a deeper connection you will feel with your dog almost instantaneously!