9 ways that dogs tell you they love you

Dogs have lived alongside us for thousands of years, earning the reputation as “man’s best friend” for good reason. But while some people may be quick to dismiss a dog’s devotion as simply a relationship based on need, experts say that’s just not true.

“Dogs have developed the strongest ability of all animals on Earth to form affectionate bonds with humans,” says Dr. Frank McMillan D.V.M., director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, an organization helping adopters find loving companions. “Dogs don’t just love us — they need us, but not just for food and physical care. They need us emotionally. This is why the attachment bond a dog feels for his human is one of deep devotion and is, as has been often stated, unconditional.”

But how exactly does a dog say, “I love you”? Read on to find out.

Your dog wants to be close to you.

If your dog is always in your lap, leaning against you or following you room to room, it’s clear your pooch is attached to you.

“A dog’s affection is most evident in their desire to be physically close to you. This can sometimes appear to be a clinginess, and it isn’t always easy to distinguish healthy positive clinginess from insecurity, but in both cases your dog is deeply attached to you,” McMillan says.

Your dog gazes into your eyes.

When you and your pup share a long look, your dog is “hugging you with his eyes,” according to Brian Hare, a professor at Duke University who studies canine cognition, and research shows that this “hug” has a profound effect on both man and animal.

When scientists at Japan’s Azabu University took urine samples from dogs and their owners before and after 30 minutes of interacting, they found that the pairs that spent the most time gazing into each others’ eyes showed significantly higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, the same hormonal response that bonds us to human infants. “It’s an incredible finding that suggests that dogs have hijacked the human bonding system,” Hare told Science.

Does your pup jump up, wag his tail and barely seem able to contain contain his excitement when you arrive home? If so, that’s a sure sign of affection.

“This becomes even more obvious when your dog learns, like Pavlov’s dogs, that some sound signals your upcoming arrival, like the garage opener or sound of your car, and they show excitement upon hearing that sound,” McMillan says.

Your dog sleeps with you.

Dogs are pack animals that often huddle together at night for warmth and protection, so when your dog snuggles up with you, it means he considers you to be part of the family. And these canine cuddles may even help you get a better night’s sleep.

You are your dog’s safe haven.

“Much affection in animals and humans is based on how much you can be relied on as a source of comfort and support in scary situations,” McMillan says. “If your dog seeks your comfort during thunderstorms, car rides, vet visits or other frightening occurrences, then you are seeing another aspect of her attachment bond to you.”

Your dog ‘reads’ you and reacts accordingly.

A close bond with your dog may enable him to sense your mood and respond with affection. “Many dogs who sense that you are upset or not feeling well will demonstrate their affection by spending even more time by your side. They might give you licks or rest their head or paws on some part of your body,” McMillan says.

If you’ve ever yawned after witnessing another person’s yawn, you’re aware how contagious the act can be. This contagious yawning is unique to only a few species, and man’s best friend is one of them.

Researchers have even found that not only are dogs more likely to yawn after watching familiar people yawn, but also that dogs will yawn when hearing only the sound of a loved one’s yawn. So if your canine companion yawns in response to your yawns, odds are good that his affection for you enables him to empathize with you.

Your dog focuses on you.

It’s not unusual for dogs to delight in positive attention from virtually anyone, but just because your pooch loves on everyone, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you most. Pay attention to how your dog acts when in a room full of people. If he stays focused on you or ignores others while awaiting your return, you know you hold a special place in your dog’s heart.

Your dog forgives you.

“Part of the affectionate feelings your dog has for you shows up in their willingness to forgive you for things you do that make them feel bad, such as raising your voice, or misplacing your frustration on your dog by ignoring them,” McMillan says. “Forgiveness is your dog’s attempt to maintain the loving bond they share with you.”

However, even if your canine best friend doesn’t show affection in these ways, it certainly doesn’t mean your pooch doesn’t love you. Just as some people can care deeply without expressing their feelings, so can your pup.

“Be sure not to go through the list above and think that because your dog shows very few or even none of these things, he or she doesn’t love you. Odds are, love is very much there. After all, we’re talking about a dog here,” McMillan says.

And how can you show your dog some love? Engage in playtime, take a long walk, bake some yummy dog treats, or give your pup a homemade toy. Above all, McMillan says the best thing you can do is simply give your dog more of you because that’s what man’s best friend wants most of all.

credit:Laura Moss

What Man’s Best Friend Can Teach Us About Being Content

Human happiness is a shabby thing compared with a dog’s. For eons, humans benefitted from the canine gift for happiness and favored happy dogs, who thus passed along their happy genes, producing a species that is now besotted, almost deranged, with happiness. Of course, many other animals take pleasure in being alive—eagles soaring, otters skidding down slides, cows content to the point of smugness. But there’s a selfishness to that happiness. Dog happiness always looks outward. To reach fullest expression, a dog’s happiness has to be lived large and strewn around. The only thing that slows down a dog’s happiness is if he can’t infect you with it so you can be happy together.

And dogs laugh! Not only do they laugh, they mean it, unlike such sarcastic types as monkeys, hyenas, and dolphins. (I know dolphins are friendly, but that high-pitched chuckle of theirs can wear on you.) A dog will laugh at anything. Hiding the ball, then pulling it out of your coat—hilarious! Watching you load the car before the vacation—a riot! Dogs are like an audience someone has already warmed up so that they laugh and voice their approval the minute the featured act (you) steps onto the stage. Dogs laugh even when they don’t get the joke, which is often. But hey, if you’re laughing, it must be funny, and that’s good enough for them.

To understand the sense of humor dogs have, it’s useful to contrast it with that of their main pet competitor: cats. Cats do not really have a sense of humor. In its place, they cultivate a deep sense of the ironic. The detached, ironical pleasure cats take in watching and inflicting suffering is a horrid substitute for the hearty wholesomeness of dog laughter. And a cat never laughs out loud. The best that cats can muster is a sardonic smirk, an “I told you so” bared in their pointy incisors.

Dogs laugh just as hard when the joke is on them, but cats hate being the butt of laughter. One time my cat was asleep on the mantelpiece in the living room. In his sleep, he turned over, woke up, found himself lying on empty air, and began scrabbling frantically on the mantel with his front paws to keep from going down. Cartoonlike, he lost the struggle and dropped to the floor. I saw the whole thing and laughed my head off. Only the cat’s dignity was injured, but he never forgave me, for the course of his half-hour memory span. He slunk around and shot me dirty looks and was really a bad sport about it, I thought. A dog would’ve made that same pratfall and hopped back on the mantel and done it again just for laughs.

Best of all, dogs live to go outdoors, where they find their funniest and timeliest material. They want to show you that running fast to nowhere in particular and then back, muddy and burr-covered, is such great comedy that you ought to join them in guffawing and jumping around with your tongue hanging out. They invite you to follow them to the railroad tracks and the run-over opossum that will be a good joke for them to roll in, or to the Canada geese on the baseball field, where a side-splitting chase scene will ensue. The bits are somehow even funnier because the dog is confident that you will love them as much as he does.

Dogs exult in the world itself. No matter if your neighborhood is interesting or not, your dog will want to go out in it. This is a godsend for human beings, most of whom would otherwise vanish into their screens. When I ramble around the part of New Jersey where I live, I see very few people on the sidewalks, and blue glows in many windows. The actual world has been abandoned for the virtual one—but not by dogs. They lobby for the world’s reality and the unending comedic opportunities it provides. The only other humans I see on my rambles in the worst weather are the ones who have to walk their dogs. Dogs never stop showing us that gigantic happiness inheres in the world, waiting to be run to earth or sniffed on a tree.

Yogis, doggies may set zen-filled world record

Hundreds of yogis and doggies set a Zen-filled world record Sunday at the largest dog yoga session ever, organizers of the event said.

At least 250 dogs needed to strike a pose with their humans for 30 minutes at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center class to break the Guinness World Record, said San Diego Humane Society spokeswoman Kelli Schry. At last count, about 265 canines showed up. The accomplishment won’t be official until the world record organization signs off on the achievement.

Dawn Celapino of Leash Your Fitness — a dog-centric fitness business — teamed up with the Humane Society to make the pet-friendly session happen. She said the event was put together to show how easy and fun it is for people to get active with their pets.

Sunday’s dogs weren’t expected to get into a triangle pose, or even downward dog, organizers said. Dog yoga, sometimes dubbed Doga, is really about bonding.

“If we are calm, our dogs are calm,” said Celapino. “Our dogs aren’t doing yoga, really. They are bonding with us. They are part of what we are doing.”

The Carmel Valley park, filled with hundreds of people and dogs of all shapes and sizes, was surprisingly peaceful. Most pups were curled up on their human’s yoga mats. People and pets breathed and panted in unison.

Nora, a 3-year-old English cream golden retriever, was the picture of relaxation. As Karen Gliner sat with crossed legs, her shaggy-haired pup rested calmly against her knees. Gliner has been practicing yoga for nearly two decades. She said Nora started joining her during her weekly sessions at home.

“She lays with me and sometimes she’ll put her face on my tummy,” the Carmel Valley resident said. “She keeps me centered and relaxed. She puts me in a very Zen place.”

Nora is a certified therapy dog, too. Gliner said Nora shares her calm demeanor with seniors and students during finals week.

Other pups, and their owners, were newer to the practice. Sunday’s session was a first for Peter Noll and his dog, Nani, an 11-year-old Bernese mountain dog.

Yoga was a first, but the two aren’t strangers to exercising together. Noll started SoCal Surf Dogs, a club for surfing dogs — or surFurs — and their owners. Nani won more than a dozen awards before retiring several years ago. Noll said getting people and their pets active is his passion.

“What can be better than that — getting active and taking your dog with you,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to exercise with your dog.”

January is National Pet Fitness Month, and the Humane Society has pet-friendly opportunities planned for the entire month, the spokeswoman said.

“We want to encourage people that as they make their new year’s resolutions and work to get more fit, to remember that there are a lot of fun ways to incorporate your dog,” Schry said.

Yoga + dogs = DOGA (London’s newest fitness craze)

You may have mastered the downward facing dog years ago but now it’s time for your dogs to hit the yoga mats because ‘doga’  – or ‘dog yoga’ if you don’t want people to ask you the awkward ‘what’s doga?’ question – has come to London.

It is believed that ‘doga’ helps both owner and canine to relax by slowing their breathing which can improve both species’ immune systems. But how are you supposed to make a free-willed animal sit still and become one with the world? Hoisting them up into the air or using them as a pillow it seems. Mahny Djahanguiri, the brains behind London’s new trend, has admitted that the first 30 minutes of each session is usually ‘chaotic’ but reassures potential participants that ‘once the owner starts to relax… the dog will feel that too.’ Unsurprisingly, these classes are mainly taught in Kensington, Chelsea, Hammersmith, Fulham and Camden and cost £16 per class. We’re not sure if this trend is barking mad or barking up the right tree but either way, it’s here to stay… good boy.