Valentine’s Day is upon us and whether you’re single or taken there is one Valentine who will always be there – your pup. Since your dog makes it abundantly clear they love you daily, perhaps it’s time to return the favor. But not everything we do translates to love. Here are five ways to show your pup you love them in a way they’ll understand.
Make Meaningful Eye Contact
Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs like to be hugged. So, dogs use eye contact as their own version of a hug. According to Dr. Brian Hare, a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University, when pups stare at you, they are “hugging you” with their eyes.
However, don’t confuse eye contact with a stare down. Dogs still consider direct eye contact a threat or challenge in certain situations. Try to avoid direct eye contact with a stray or unknown dog but with your own pup, making eye contact tells them you love them!
When speaking softly and providing gentle pets along with eye contact, Oxytocin – the same hormone that solidifies the bond between a mother and child – is released in your dog’s brain.
Lean on Your Pup
While you may figuratively lean on your pup in stressful or sad times, actually leaning on your pup shows you love them. Dogs do this to us to show their affection and we often overlook it. Think about it – has your dog ever leaned against you while you’re both sitting on the couch or pressed up against your leg while you’re doing laundry? They are trying to show you they love you!
Show your pup the same type of love by (lightly) leaning on them when you’re hanging out on the couch.
Raise Those Eyebrows
It might sound strange, but according to a Japanese study, dogs will raise their eyebrows – specifically the left one – when their owners greet them. The study used a high-speed camera that scrutinized facial movements of pups when seeing their owners vs. seeing strangers.
The test pups showed less facial activity when greeted by strangers and most of the activity was on the right side. This may not sound significant, but the right side of the brain controls the left side of their face and correlates with emotions whereas the left brain controls the right side of their face and correlates with analytical behaviors.
To sum it up, the more you display facial activity with your dog, they more they know they’re loved. So, try raising your (left) eyebrow every now and then to make your pup feel extra special!
If you’re not a fan of sharing the bed with your pup, you may want to reconsider. Gregory Berns, an Emory University neuroscientist, studies the dog’s brain through MRI. And according to this research, a dog sleeping with their human is the ultimate form of trust and love they can give as that is when they are most vulnerable.
Sleeping with a human also shows that pups consider us a pack member. But if you are completely anti-bed sharing, you can still show your pup you love them by cuddling up on the couch or floor a few times a day.
It may sound corny, but dogs are highly perceptive when it comes to reading our emotions. Pups have no problem knowing humans love them just by reading our body language, voice, and actions. If you have true love for your pup, they’ll know! But a treat now and then wouldn’t hurt.
Don’t just use these tips on Valentine’s Day, use them everyday to show your pup just how much you love them!
Another way to show your furry friend how much you love them, get them a dog walker! For Your Spot can provide your pup with a midday walk so they can get that pent-up energy out and you can have peace of mind that your dog is getting enough exercise. Learn more about For Your Spot here.