Do Dogs Know if They Are Loved?

by Lisa McQuerrey
    Your pooch understands and appreciates physical displays of your affection.

    Your pooch understands and appreciates physical displays of your affection.

    Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

    While animal lovers are often tempted to assign human traits, characteristics and emotions to their dogs, there is, of course, no scientific way to prove or disprove whether a dog can feel the human emotion known as “love.” Dogs can, however, exhibit signs of happiness and attachment to their human companions. These responses signify that dogs can recognize when they are well cared for and connect that sense of well-being with you.

    Help your dog feel a sense of closeness to you by spending time with him, both in training, in play and in ordinary life circumstances. Dogs are most content when they are around their human pack, so involving your dog in as many aspects of your life as you can will let him know you care for him. Don’t get a dog just to let him sit alone outside all day. Treat him as a member of the family.

    Your dog wants to please you, and training him appropriately will allow him to do that. Training your dog helps him understand your expectations, establishes you as his pack leader and helps socialize him so he can be part of more family activities and outings. This is another way of expressing your love to your dog in a way he can understand.

    Physically touch your dog, brush him, play with him - even roughhouse a little bit. Just like humans, dogs respond to touch and the associated release of endorphins. Also, buy your dog a surprise toy or treat on occasion to show your love. Dogs understand that things that taste good or prompt play and attention from their human family are good things. They will associate these positive, happy times with you, which helps them perceive the love you feel for him.

    It can be a challenge to take your dog with you everywhere, and some destinations are not appropriate. However, do try to include your dog on outings to demonstrate that you want to be with him as much as he wants to be with you. Even if a dog can’t feel what we consider to be “love,” he can understand exclusion and exclusion from his favorite people.

    Your dog trusts you with his care and well-being. Severely punishing him or physically abusing him will sever any feelings of love and affection he has for you and replace them with feelings of fear and confusion. Use positive reinforcement to prompt obedience and appropriate behavior.

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    About the Author

    Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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