As dog owners, our pets mean so much to us. They're there for us even on our worst days, and the greatest way we can repay their loyalty is to give them love and affection in return.
Dogs have given humans unconditional love and loyalty for centuries. This is thought to be because they have naturally evolved to become sociable with members of other species, such as us humans. But this symbiotic relationship is far from just biological. It transcends science - and it can be difficult to put words behind just how meaningful pets are to their parents.
That's why, no matter the evolutionary reason for your dog's limitless love, it's a no-brainer that they deserve just as much care and dedication.
If you're searching for some specific ways to show your dog that you love them unconditionally, keep reading.
1. Rub their ears
Ear rubs impart a natural high or euphoric feeling in your dog. They love it! This is especially the case for the area right behind their ears, and this is because that area, and the ear as a whole, is home to many nerve endings.
When you gently scratch that area on your dog, endorphins are immediately released throughout their body, giving them relief from stress and pain. They may never want you to stop.
2. Snuggle with them
Rob Thomas, a canine specialist from Marvelous Dogs, says snuggling with your dog is one effective form of giving them attention. And luckily, attention is a "love language" for most pets.
Be aware, you shouldn’t completely hug your dog when snuggling with them since that can make them feel trapped and overwhelmed.
Simply letting them lay beside you as you rub them is enough for them to feel your love. Focus your attention on any areas that they use frequently, and pay attention to their body language for an indication of whether they're enjoying your touch.
3. Play with them
Dogs love playing, and even more so when they're playing with their humans. Setting aside some time daily to play a game with your dog is an easy way to show them you care about and love them.
Some fun games you can play with your dog include:
Hide and seek
Treasure hunt (aka find the toy/treat)
Teaching new tricks
The cup game
4. Gaze into their eyes
Have you noticed your dog softly staring at you before? Believe it or not, these soft stares are one way your dog shows that they love you. Want to reciprocate? You can do it back!
Studies have shown that when you and your dog gaze into each other’s eyes softly, the love chemical oxytocin is released in both of you.
Be aware of how your stare may affect your dog's mood. Staring at your dog aggressively or forcefully will cause them to feel intimidated and they may become reactive.
5. Chat with them
Have you ever felt weird for having full-blown conversations with your dog? Science says there's a good reason to keep the words flowing.
Research has found that dogs perceive and understand human language better than previously believed. In fact, they especially love it when you use a slightly-embarassing, high-pitched, or baby-voiced manner of speaking to them. It actually calms them down!
Need to practice your ABCs? Reading to dogs has been shown to settle anxious or highly energetic dogs, so give it a try with your pup.
6. Spend quality time
Many pet parents consider their pets to be like their children, and for good reason. Like human children, it's important to spend quality time with them daily to make them feel loved.
This time together doesn’t even have to be novel or highly entertaining. For example, many dogs would love to tag along as you run errands, go for a walk, or sit in the park. These little moments of quality time can create an amazing bond between the two of you, and reinforce your pet's love and respect for you.
Whatever humans did to deserve the undying loyalty of dogs, we sure as heck better figure out a way to show it to them in return. Thanks to scientific studies, we know that there are several methods to express our love for pets in a way that they will understand.
From rubbing their ears and gazing into their eyes, to conversing with them and spending time with them daily, demonstrating love for your dog is simple and you'll be rewarded with unlimited love right back!
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.