How Do Dogs Show Affection? 26 Supercute Signs They Love You!

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Ever wonder how your dog shows his love for you?

It’s not just with a wag of the tail or a slobbery lick on the face.

Dogs have many different ways of expressing their affection. It’s important to be able to read the signs to better understand if your furry friend is feeling all warm and fuzzy toward you.

In this article, we answer the question, how do dogs show affection?

We’ll reveal some of the most common ways dogs display their love for us and what it means when your pup exhibits these behaviors.

Let’s get started!


How Do Dogs Show Affection?

Sometimes it can be a nuzzle of the face, a gentle lick of the hand, or that excited little dance they do when you walk in through the door. Dogs are masters at showing how much they care.

It’s we humans that tend to be tone-deaf to their wants and needs.

Learning to read your canine body language is a great start in understanding how your dog feels and what they’re trying to communicate.

Your dog will use body language to speak to another dog and, likewise, to show their affection for you. It’s their main form of communication.

Body language cues can include everything from your pet’s proximity to you, the position of their ears, to how they hold or wag their tail.

nice image of a dog, ears cocked

So, on the subject of “how do dogs show affection?” this secret language dogs use can reveal some pretty big clues that will let you know your pet’s true feelings.

How Dogs Show Affection

A dog will have a whole host of ways they express their love and affection to their owner.

Here’s a list of some of the more common ways they do this:

1. They Greet You at The Door

One of the most classic signs of a dog’s affection is how they greet you at the door.

If your pup is eagerly waiting for you to come home and gets super excited when you finally arrive, this is a pretty good indication that they love you.

Dog waiting at the door

This is because they are social-orientated pets that thrive on human interaction.

So, when you’re gone all day, and they finally get to see you again, it’s only natural that they would be overjoyed.

2. Full Body Wag

A dog’s tail is one of the most expressive parts of their body, and wagging their tail can be very telling.

tail wagging

If you’re greeted by your furry face-washer whose tail is held high and wagging vigorously from side to side, along with their butt and whole body, then this is usually a sign of their happiness and excitement to see you.

3. Puppy Kisses

Dogs will often lick their owner’s face as a way of showing their affection.

This trait is thought to have originated from puppies when they would lovingly lick their mother’s face to signal that they were hungry.

Puppy Licking owners face

This mannerism has been passed down through generations and is often seen as a sign of love and affection from dogs.

However, dogs still lick faces as a way of asking for food, so be sure to read the proper context before getting too excited about those puppy kisses!

4. Leaning In

If your dog likes to lean against you, it’s often a signal that your hairy pal wants to be close to you for some extra love.

dog leaning on legs

When dogs lean, it’s often seen as a submissive act like belly tickles, so it’s essential to reward them with some extra attention.

5. Nudging You With Their Nose

This is another classic way that dog breeds demonstrate affection.

Dog nose nudge

If your dog nudges you with their head or nose, they likely want you to pet them or give them a tasty treat.

Conversely, nose and head nudges can be interpreted as begging. If you don’t want your dog to beg for food this way, it’s best to ignore the heavy hints and only reward your pup when they’re not begging.

6. Becoming Agitated If You Lie Down

Playing dead or pretending to be asleep around your dog could cause them to become agitated or distressed.

TheMeanKitty channel

Since dogs are pack animals, any lack of movement signals to a dog that you’re in trouble.

When your dog sees you lying still and motionless, it’s highly likely they’ll be concerned and try to wake you up by pawing or licking your face.

7. Pawing at You

Pawing is a typical way most breeds try to get our attention, but it’s also a signal of affection.

dag pawing - how do dogs show affection

If your pup gently paws at you, they may want you to pet them.

Again, this can also be interpreted as begging. It all depends on the circumstance.

8. Placing Their Head on Your Lap

This is a heart-melting way that your pup shows their love for you and that they want your attention.

dog's head on a lap

It also illustrates how much your pup trusts you and feels comfortable around you. It’s a way of asking for physical contact.

This is your dog pulling out all the stops to get some lovely love from you.

9. Prolonged Eye Contact

When dogs stare at you for long periods of time, it’s often mistaken for hostility.

However, if your dog is doing this, they’re likely attempting to bond with their favorite human, you.

Dog giving lots of eye contact

It’s important to remember that dogs are descended from the wolf and are naturally social animals that crave attention and interaction.

However, if you feel uncomfortable with the level of wolf-like eye contact your dog is inflicting on you, simply avert your gaze.

Try playing with a squeaky toy instead, and watch how fast they join in.

10. Stealing Socks and Slippers

If you notice your pet dog fearlessly running off with a particularly stinky pair of socks or slippers in their mouth, it’s because those smelly items have a strong whiff of you on them.

dog stealing socks

Although it’s a bit annoying, it’s an adorable signal that your dog loves you, their pack leader, and wants to keep your comforting scent close to them.

11. Roll on Their Back

This is a common sign of submission that dogs use to show their trust in you.

dog lying on their back - how do dogs show affection

When a dog rolls over onto their back, they are exposing their most vulnerable body parts (i.e., their belly and genitals). It’s a clear indication that they feel safe and relaxed around you.

12. Rubbing Their Face on You

Dogs are instinctively territorial animals, and this behavior is their way of claiming their owner for themselves.

It’s also a good sign that your dog does love and care about you, as they’re marking you to warn other dogs off 

13. Jumping Up

This is one of those traits that you associate with puppies, but it can be mistaken as antagonism as they get older.

dog jumping up

In reality, it’s usually just your dog’s excitable way of seeking your attention.

It can be annoying, so if you want to stop your dog from attempting to jump up on you, simply turn your back and wait for them to calm down before you give any more attention.

14. Sitting on Your Feet

This is a classic display of affection!

dog lying on some feet

When your dog sits on your feet, it means they feel comfortable and safe in your presence. Your dog may see you as a source of protection.

15. Following You Around

This display of affection could be misinterpreted as aggression. It’s not.

dog following owner

If your dog follows you around constantly, it’s likely because they enjoy your company and feel safe around you.

However, if your dog is following you to the point where it’s becoming intrusive or annoying, simply distract them with their favorite toy or treat.

16. Sniffing Your Crotch Area

This is probably the most embarrassing way dogs show love, but it’s a common one nonetheless.

Dog sniffing crotch

When dogs sniff your crotch, they are gathering information on you from the scent glands in that area, such as your gender, health, and emotional state.

So, next time a dog goes for an uninvited sniff, just remember that they’re only trying to get to know you a little better!

I’d prefer to fill out a simple questionnaire personally!

17. Smiling

Dogs may not be able to smile in the traditional sense. Still, they can certainly show their enjoyment with facial expressions.

Dog sniffing crotch

When a dog does a big wide open-mouthed slow pant showing their back and lower teeth, and their mouth forms a sort of “smile,” it’s often a display of happiness and contentment.

Next time your dog smiles at you, take it as a compliment!

18. Loyal

One of the most obvious signs that your dog loves you is their loyalty.

Our canine companions are incredibly faithful pets that will stick by your side through thick and thin.

If you’re ever feeling down, you can be sure your furry friend will always be there for you, no matter what.

19. Herding Their Owners

This is one of those curious canine behaviors often seen in sheepdogs and other working breeds, but any dog can do it.

Herding usually manifests itself when your dog walks around you in circles or gently nudges a family member if they wander away from the family.

Herding is your dog’s way of keeping the pack together and ensuring everyone is healthy and safe.

While it can be annoying at times, it’s also a sign of how much they care for their family.

20. They Know and Recognise Your Name

Dogs are incredibly attuned to the sounds that humans make, and they can pick up on subtle differences in the way words are spoken.

This means that not only can dogs learn their own names, but they can also learn your name and the names of other family members, as well as words like “treat,” “walk,” and “car ride.”

Sensing Your Sadness

Dogs are highly intuitive creatures, and they can pick up on the emotions of humans very easily.

dog sensing sadness

In life, we find ourselves in situations that can leave us feeling terribly sad or depressed. Dogs will likely sense your emotions and come to comfort you.

This is just one more example of how dogs show love and compassion for us.

We have an incredibly informative article about this very subject that you can find here.

21. Big Sighs

Dogs often sigh when they’re feeling content and relaxed.

If you see your dog sighing after a long walk or play session, it’s a good sign that they’re happy and content in your company, especially if they lean or lie against you.

22. Guarding You

Dogs are very protective of their humans and will often try to guard you against perceived threats.

Guarding owner - how do dogs show affection

This behavior can manifest itself in different ways, such as growling at strangers approaching you, blocking doorways to keep people out, or sleeping on your feet.

While it’s important to always discourage aggression, this behavior is actually a sign of your dog’s deep affection for you.

23. Bringing You Gifts

One of the most adorable ways dogs show love and affection is by bringing you “gifts” in the form of toys, balls, or sticks.

dog with toy

This behavior is often seen in dogs with strong hunting or retrieving instincts, as they’re trying to share their prey with you.

However, even if your dog doesn’t have a strong hunting drive, they may still bring you squeaky toys or other random objects as a way to engage and play with you.

So, if your pup suddenly starts placing their favorite chew toy on your lap, they want your undivided attention, so be prepared for a mega play session

24. Sleeping on Your Bed

For many dog owners, this is one of those behaviors they’re not too fond of.

Sleeping on your bed

Allowed or not, a dog may see sleeping on their owner’s bed as a sign of affection.

After all, it’s the closest they can get to the person they love the most!

Dogs also choose where they sleep based on comfort and security. So, if your dog sleeps on your bed, it’s a good sign that they feel nice and safe with you.

If you’re not comfortable with your dog sleeping on your bed, that’s perfectly understandable.

Just be sure to create a comfortable space for your dog to sleep elsewhere, such as their own bed or crate.

25. Barking and Howling

Dogs communicate with one another through barking and howling, and they often use these vocalizations to express their emotions.

dog barking

If your dog is barking or howling when you leave the house, it’s likely because he’s feeling separation anxiety and is trying to tell you that he doesn’t want you to go.

On the other hand, if your dog is barking or howling when you come home, it’s probably because he’s excited to see you and is expressing his joy in the best way he knows how!

26. Bonding Through Scent

One of the ways that dogs show love and affection is by bonding with their owner through scent.

dogs and scent - how do dogs show affection

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and they use this ability to create a strong connection with the humans they love.

If your dog likes to sniff you, it’s likely because he’s trying to take in your scent and create a strong bond with you.

Sign of Affection

When your dog seems to display affection through vocalizations or mannerisms, it’s not always obvious what your dog is trying to tell you.

It’s easy to misinterpret some gestures and get the wrong end of the stick. Your pet could be staring at you because they really want their dinner, not because they are trying to bond with you.

dog with second head tilt

As pet owners, it’s up to us to decipher the real meaning behind our dog’s actions, and the best way to do that is by looking for clusters of signs that all point to the same conclusion.

For example, if your dog is leaning against you, gazing into your eyes, and licking your face, there’s a good chance they’re trying to show you how much they love you!


How do dogs show affection?

As we’ve discovered throughout this handy article, our four-legged face-washers use a sophisticated array of movements and gestures to communicate their love and affection, including:

  • Nudging
  • Barking
  • Jumping
  • Following you around

While some of these mannerisms can be interpreted in a multitude of different ways. When these characteristics are shown in clusters, it’s much easier to determine how much dogs care for their humans.

how dogs show affection

So, next time your faithful dog is trying to tell you something, pay close attention and enjoy that special moment!

We hope this article was helpful to you, check out our other related articles:

Why Do Dogs Like Sticks – Things You Need to Know

Are Dog’s Ticklish? – How to Tell If Dogs Are Ticklish

Why Does My Dog Nibble on Blankets?

Can Dogs Cry? The Real Reason Dogs Shed a Tear

Socializing Your Dog and Why You Should Do It

Why is it Important to Exercise Your Dog?

Is Nylabone Safe for Dogs?

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All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
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