1) They want to cuddle – not hug – you
Hallelujah – you don’t have to give up puppy cuddles after all. Stan Rawlinson, who owns five dogs, disagrees with the recent advice about hugs, saying that it’s actually a particular type of clinch you want to avoid.
‘What dogs don’t like are the big bear hugs where you wrap your arms around them, as it makes them feel like they can’t escape,’ he says. ‘But they like cuddles.’ By which he means being physically close to your dogs and having them snuggle up against you, while ensuring they don’t feel trapped and trust they can go as they please.
So yes, this also means when your dog decides to sleep in your bed it’s because they are enjoying the close connection with you.
Both Rosie Barclay and Stan state this a key sign that your dog feels close to you. Rosie says that a loose mouth on a dog will show a level of relaxation in your presence. ‘A happy dog will have a loose mouth rather than a tight mouth, and a loose tongue. ‘They’ll look happy and smiley.’ Stan says it’s a type of mirroring behaviour that shows your dog feels emotionally close to you.
‘Yawning is a perfect example of mirroring, which animals that have empathy with each other will do. ‘If dogs yawn when we yawn, they have empathy with us.’
3) They stare at you for a long time
Dogs don’t hug with their arms – they hug with their eyes. And it’s not creepy whatsoever. This study published in the Science journal found that staring into your dog’s eyes can raise levels of the love hormone, oxytocin, in both owner and pet. Stan says that a dog’s stare is a big sign of true affection for you.
‘Eye contact is a big confidence booster for dogs,’ he says. ‘Dogs that really respect you will make eye contact.’
4) Tail wagging
Well, to some extent anyway. Last year we found out that tail wagging doesn’t always mean that a dog is happy. It depends on which way they wag.
The study found that happy dogs were more likely to wag their tails to the right, while nervous dogs would swish it to the left. So if your dog’s tail is moving to the right, they’re pretty damn happy to see you.
5) They won’t freak out when you leave
This one might surprise you. Surely your dog must really love you if the mere thought of you leaving sends them into a frenzy? Seems not, according to Stan.
‘Dogs get separation anxiety if you leave and they don’t know if you’re going come back. In the wolf pack, for example, no wolf is left alone in the den,’ he says. ‘If they really trust you, they’ll be calm when you leave. They know you’re going to come back.’
6) But you should be worried if they’re calm when you return
Dogs that have a great deal affection for you will be absolutely delighted when you come back, even if they knew all along that you would.
‘When you come back, they’ll be excited to see you and have that full body waggle. If your dog ignores you, then something is wrong.’
7) Last but not least, they keep coming back for more
If a dog keeps initiating contact or activities, funnily enough it means they probably really like it. And you.
For example, when a dog keeps bringing a toy to you over and over to throw, it means he or she really enjoyed doing it last time with you. ‘If they enjoy it and spending time with you, they’ll come back for more,’ Rosie says.
Simple as that.