To say that I love my dog would be an understatement. I adore him. He is one of the best things in my life, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to keep him healthy and happy. Showing him how much he means to me can be a little tricky though.
Even though I know that most dogs aren’t the biggest fans of big hugs, I sometimes have to fight the urge to give Chilly a loving squeeze. After all, hugging is one of the most natural ways for humans to show affection. However, for our many of our canine companions, a hug is unwelcome or even threatening, especially if they feel trapped.
Some dog parents make the mistake of thinking that the best way to their dog’s heart is through his stomach. Don’t get me wrong — treats and goodies do have their place (especially as rewards when training), but too many of them can easily lead to weight gain and all of the health issues that come with it.
While treats should be limited and hugs should usually be avoided, there are still lots of ways that you can shower your dog with endless love in language he’s sure to understand.
1. Gaze Into His Eyes
One way to show your pup you love him is through eye contact. Take a quiet moment, speak softly to him and pet him gently, and just stare into his eyes. Try raising your eyebrows (especially the left one). Your dog will view this as a display of affection.
A word of caution: you should only maintain direct eye contact with a dog who knows and trusts you. A dog who is not familiar with you is more likely to interpret this gesture as a threat or a challenge.
2. Rub His Ears
Instead of patting your pup on the top of the head, try giving him a gentle rub behind the ears. Watch his reaction — he will most likely melt into a ball of doggy happiness. This is because rubbing a dog’s ears actually stimulates the release of endorphins – hormones that relieve pain and bring on feelings of pleasure.
3. Lean on Him
Has your dog ever pressed up against your legs or leaned into you while you were sitting together? This is one way that dogs seek affection – kind of like a doggie hug. You can “hug” him back by doing the same thing.
4. Have Fun Together
Spend some time every day doing something that your dog enjoys. Try teaching him a new trick or practicing ones he already knows. Take him out in the back yard or down to the dog park for a game of frisbee or fetch. Not only will your dog feel loved, but the exercise will help to keep him (and you) healthy.
Dogs may not enjoy being hugged, but they love cuddling. Dogs are pack animals, and close contact makes them feel safe and secure. Allowing your pooch to sleep with you is the ultimate display of trust and affection since this is when you are the most vulnerable. However, even if you’d prefer to keep your bed dog-free, you can still create opportunities every day to tell your dog you love him by snuggling up on the couch or in a cozy corner with him on the floor. He’ll be sure to get your message.
One of the best things about dogs is how well they know their favorite people. They can tell when we’re stressed out and when we’re calm and happy. And we can be sure that our voices, our body language, and our actions communicate to them how much they mean to us.