Some dog behaviors are easy to read... and some aren't! When it comes to being able to tell if your dog really loves you, there are actually some scientifically proven ways to tell how your pup truly feels. So if you're curious, read on and check out these five scientific ways you can tell your dog loves you the most.
When you come home after being out for even a MINUTE is your dog waiting at the front door, tail wagging? Seriously buddy, I just went outside to get the mail, calm down! Dogs use tail wagging as one of the top ways to express emotion, and if your dog is happier to see you than anyone else that’s a pretty good indication that you’re their #1, especially if their tail wags more to the right side of their bodies.
In a recent study by a neuroscientist and two veterinarians at the University of Trieste in Italy, it was found that when the dogs saw their owners (as opposed to a stranger, a cat, or a dominant dog they did not know) that their tails wagged more fiercely on the right sides of their bodies. For the strange human there was a moderate right-side wag, for the cat a slow and more restrained wag to the right was present, and the strange and aggressive dominant dog resulted in a wag to the left.
(Note: When referring to right and left, we mean the dog's right and left. So if you are facing the dog a wag to its right would mean you see the tail to your left.)
Who says gazing lovingly at one another is just for humans? According to Brian Hare, a famous dog-expert who was recently interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CBS, when your dog looks you in the eye they are “hugging you with their eyes.” This is because when humans and animals see something they love, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is the love hormone that both people and animals release that makes them feel “in love” and bonds them to one another. Its effect on the dog-human relationship was covered in depth in our article Science Proves What Every Dog Person Already Knows: Your Dog Loves You Five Times More Than Cats Do.
So the next time you’re playing or snuggling with you dog, try maintaining eye contact, and see how your pup reacts.
Everyone knows you can read dogs’ emotions by how they wag their tail, but a recent Japanese study also showed that their facial expressions were also a very important indicator of their feelings. In the study the scientists presented dogs with their owner, a strange, a toy and an item they weren’t fond of (like toe nail clippers).
Seeing their owner resulted in the most facial movement, specifically the dogs lifting their eyebrows, and in particular, the left eyebrow. When seeing a stranger, the right brow moved, but a lot less than it did for their owner.
As for the items, when the dog saw the object they were familiar with and liked (a dog toy) they left ear shifted back, and when it was the object they did not like, it was the right ear that shifted back.
This suggests that dogs are more reserved in their facial expressions with people and objects they are unfamiliar with or disapprove of, and they move their left eyebrows and ears when confronted with things they already like.
The primary drive of all animals is sustenance, so it makes sense that eating is the highest thing on your dog's list of priorities. What they do after fulfilling this primary drive is a huge indicator of what is important to them, so if your pup comes over to hang out and cuddle with you once they’ve eaten (and done their “business,” as that often comes after a meal), that’s a huge indicator of where you fall on their list of priorities.