Dog owner’s and dog lovers are always saying how much they love their dogs. As a previous dog owner myself, I sure loved my dogs with my whole heart. The next question is do dogs really love their owner’s back in return? My boys I know for a fact loved me back in return. How did I really know though, did they show signs that I could read?
We can look to recent studies and evidence that shows some very interesting findings about dogs and how they love their owner’s.
What does the science show
Yes I absolutely believe that dogs love their owner’s. We constantly say that dogs are our best friends. They don’t judge us or stay mad at us for anything that we have done. The second they see you, they exhibit joy and happiness which tells us that they are happy to see us.
Dr. Gregory Berns a neuroscientist in the field of canine cognition wrote a book called “How Dogs Love Us, A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain”.
He says that dogs are so good at reading humans emotions, that they can even pick up a subtle change in our voices intonation.
Dr. Berns even goes on to say that he believes dogs may experience emotion even more purely than us humans do. He is saying that when you are feeling down and need your best friend to be by your side to make you feel better, they may feel that same emotion more intensely than we do.
Scientists at Emery University conducted a neuroimaging study on dogs brains. By actually training dogs to stay completely still they did MRI brain scan testing. They presented dogs with different smells that were familiar to them and some that were not. The second the dog was presented with their owner’s scent, their brain lit up like fireworks.
This study proves that an owner’s presence sends a dog a very strong positive reactions.
Signs your dog loves you
I believe dogs really do love their humans. How do you know? Your dog shows you they love you by clearly communicating how they are actually feelings.
Some obvious signs you dog will show are:
- a wagging tail
- eye contact
- yawning when you yawn
- they lean against you
- bring you their toys
- sleeping in your bed
These are also indications that you and your dog have a special bond.
Dogs that have a special bond with their owner show some or all of these signs that indicate how they feel about their owner.
Do they love us unconditionally
Nobody can say for sure that dogs love us unconditionally, but there are things like different stories that can lean us in that direction.
We have all heard amazing stories of dogs that stay in one spot looking for their owner’s after they are gone or passed away.
There are pictures of army dogs laying beside the casket of their human partner that were killed in action. These dogs always portray the image that they are heartbroken. To me this seems like proof that dogs do love their owner’s unconditionally.
They are physically showing signs that they are feeling the loss of their owner. If a dog didn’t feel love for their owner than a dog would show no emotion at all.
We have also heard stories of dogs that will still continue to go to their owners even after they have been beaten or neglected by that owner. Some people may say this isn’t unconditional love but dogs being easy to forgive and forget by just moving on.
I suppose this is open to your own opinion, but I take it to mean that dogs do love unconditionally.
Dogs believe they are family
Like human to infant bonding, dogs feel their humans are a secure base and presence in their world.
Lisa Horn from Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute conducted a study of exactly that….dogs and a secure base.
The secure base effect is something that Lisa wanted to look farther into, as studies like these have never been done on the human to dog caregiver.
She examined dogs reactions to in 3 different circumstances : an absent owner, a silent owner and an encouraging owner.
Dogs could earn a food reward by playing with interactive dog toys. A surprising thing that was noted was that when the owner wasn’t present, the dog seemed less interested in playing with the toy for food. If the owner was present the dog seemed much more interested. Owner encouragement towards the dog seemed to make no difference to the dog either way as far as motivation goes.
One of the real surprising things that came from this study is that adult dogs tend to behave towards their caregivers like that of human children.
We feel like dogs are part of our family, but now we can say that they also feel like they are part of the family.
Personally for me and my 2 dogs, they constantly showed me many of these amazing signs of love.
My boy Finny would always do the big lean against you when you were sitting on the couch. He would sit down at your feet and lean his body against your leg.
He was also super fond of the hugs. Literally he would sit on the foot of the bed and wait for you to come up to him so he could lay his head against you, like a real hug. I always took these signs to mean that he definitely was showing me he loved me.
Boo on the other hand was a little more subtle. He was the guy that would lay beside you in bed and lean all of his 10 lbs against you just as a way to cuddle.
Although both dogs showed different signs that they loved me, the end result was the same. They really did love me.
I have absolutely no doubt that my 2 boys loved me like family, just as I loved them like they were my children and we all together were one happy family.
I guess everyone can determine for themselves about their own dogs.