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Puppy Love: Do Dogs Love?

12 Ways Puppies Show Love

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Puppy Love: Do Dogs Love?

Puppies show their tummies to express trust and love.

Image © Amy Shojai, CABC
Woman hugging her puppyCavan Images/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Do dogs love, and if so, how does your puppy love you? Dogs have well-known reputations as loyal, loving companions—the quintessential "man's best friend" and deservedly so. Your puppy thrives on social interaction.

Dogs communicate their moods, emotions, and desires in a variety of ways, from obvious to subtle. Although affection should be reciprocal, our dogs are unique in that many offer us blind adoration, whether we deserve it or not. It is the rare pup who is indifferent to people, although mistreatment and/or poor breeding can warp the canine personality into a dysfunctional animal. Puppies are also individuals, with a wide range of personalities.

How Puppies Show Love to Other Pets

Puppies show their affection toward other dogs—and even cats or other pets—by sleeping together. They also lick and nuzzle each other.

Simply sharing space can be a subtle sign of affection between dogs. Affectionate dogs also may share toys or food. They often enjoy playing together, invite games and take turns being “it” during chase and tag. Pupppies show love to people in many of the same ways.

12 Ways Puppies Show Love to People

  • Puppies love with wags. Considered a “distance decreasing signal” a puppy tail wag often invites you to come closer begs for attention.

  • Puppies love with licks. Slurping your hands or—even better—aiming a smooch at your eyes or mouth is a canine declaration that YOU are TOPS with him! This submission gesture often is used in greetings or as an appeasement gesture—a way to say I’m sorry—when you act upset.

  • Puppies love with leaps. Jumping up looks cute in small babies but once he grows up, these love leaps can knock you over and break a hip in elderly visitors. He’s jumping up to aim licks at your face—that’s a proper doggy greeting after all. You can always kneel for a face-slurping greeting, or teach your puppy a better greeting like to sit when you come home.

  • Puppies love by rolling over. Besides enjoying a tummy rub, showing the tummy puts puppies in a vulnerable position that declares trust and affection. Rolling over in front of more powerful dogs—or people—is how puppies show through body language they offer no threat and want to be friends.

  • Puppies love by shaking paws. Dogs often offer a paw just before they roll over. Puppies paw your leg to ask for attention.

  • Puppies love by crawling into your lap. They crave contact with you and a sign of deep affection and trust can be leaning against you or resting across your feet.

  • Puppies love by napping with you. They show great trust by falling asleep on your lap, and sharing your pillow can be a great treat for you both.

  • Puppies love by wetting the floor. This is different than urine marking. Even when pups understand potty training basics, they may squat and wet when you first greet them or raise your voice. Technically called submissive urination, consider this gesture your puppy’s way of crying uncle and declaring you to be in charge.

  • Puppies love by chewing your stuff. Sure, it feels good for teething babies to gnaw, but they target certain objects because they smell like their most beloved person—you.

  • Puppies love with crotch sniffs. They mean no disrespect, and to dogs, sniffing this (ahem) area is the equivalent to shaking hands in greeting. Older pups may even offer a return of the favor and present their butt for you to sniff.

  • Puppies love with play. They invite owners to play, bring you gifts of their favorite toys, and eagerly join in your games—sometimes whether you want them to or not.

  • Puppies love with smiles. Some dogs actually learn to "grin" by lifting their lips to show a fun toothy smile to show their happiness and affection.

Often, animal "experts" are reluctant to say any creature experiences the same emotions as people. We can't know for certain what our pups feel. But from every indication, our puppies are every bit as devoted to us as we are to them.

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