It's a funny thing, our relationship with dogs. We love them like our own children, but we're not the same species and we don't speak the same language. Luckily, there are plenty of visual signs and signals we can pick up on to confirm that our four-legged friends really, truly love us.
It's not like your pup is going to go up to you and give you a hug, hold your hand, or pen you a letter saying how much they appreciate you. Instead, there are other ways they show their love, using methods that aren't necessarily shared among humans—but totally make sense among dogs.
If you've ever doubted that your pup loves you, think again. Most, if not close to all, dogs are capable of love, especially according to Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert with Rover.
"Dogs absolutely love," the trainer says. "And if you know what to look for, you can pick up on their love cues."
She shares a reminder saying that while we primarily look for visual cues, dogs mostly rely on olfactory, or scent-driven, information on their "love language" and "sense of connectedness" as Ellis puts it.
Keep on the lookout for the following 10 signs that your dog loves you.
1. A Wagging Tail
A wagging tail is certainly an understood sign that a dog is happy, but does it signal that they love us?
"A dog that wags its tail when you come into a room is definitely a companion that loves you—and wants you to know it," Ellis says.
2. Being Excited to See You
When you come home from a long day of work and your furry friend is there at the door to enthusiastically greet you, it's a sure sign that they love you. Ellis says that a dog shows love through being excited to see you when you get home, specifically by panting, whining, and wagging their tails.
3. Sleeping Near You
If you only have inches of the bed to yourself because your dog is sleeping on top of you again, they love you so much that they can't stand to sleep away from you. Your dog is showing love by wanting to sleep and relax near you, "whether that's in bed, on the couch, or laying on the floor," Ellis says.
4. Signaling for Affection
As your dog's human, you've likely learned when they're angling for some pats and affection. "You can tell a dog loves you if they signal for a cuddle, a belly rub, or other physical contact," Ellis says. They might do this by rolling over for a rub or gently barking to get your attention.
"Dog kisses are a classic way your dog says, 'I love you,'" Ellis says. The next time your dog greets you with a big, slobbery lick, know that it's purely out of love.
6. Rolling Over
Another way that dogs show love is by being vulnerable with you, something they wouldn't do if they didn't feel safe. Ellis describes this as "a dog that rolls over and relaxes near you."
"Dogs only truly make themselves vulnerable if they trust and love," Ellis points out.
7. Checking On You
Perhaps you can't get through a Zoom call without your pup coming over to you or even barking at you. Or maybe your dog jumps right into the bathtub with you. Ellis says that this is simply your dog checking in on you, which is an indicator of love.
Ellis says, "It might be when we are working or taking a shower, but those quick visits are meaningful."
8. Asking to Play
If you're your dog's favorite playmate, that's another love cue.
"Asking to play fetch is an act of service—and show of love," Ellis says.
9. Making Eye Contact
A nervous dog that doesn't yet trust its owner can have a tough time making eye contact. But if you've had time to work on your connection and your dog feels safe with you, you can be sure they'll lock eyes in a look of love.
"Simply looking into each other's eyes promotes bonding and is an act of love," Ellis says.
10. Delivering Gifts
While we may not appreciate smelly, old socks or even dead birds placed at our feet, dogs think that it's the bee's knees and is undoubtedly an act of love. Ellis calls this "delivering gifts."
She says, "If your dog brings you toys or maybe even a stinky outdoor 'treat,' that means they're sharing resources with you."