Does Your Dog Actually Love?

do dogs loveMany of you will stand up and shout that you KNOW your dog loves you, but do they really or is that just what we need to say because of a need in our life?  Don’t get angry.  In fact, science is showing that dogs really do have feelings of love and affection, like you needed science to prove it.

Dogs accept us into their pack and as such not only look to us to provide them with food and security they also look to us for social comfort and bonding, especially if they are an “only child.”  So, how is science proving what most of us already know?  Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has a group of scientist that trained a dozen plus dogs to be comfortable around and in an MRI scanner so they could take a peek inside the dog’s head.  When they did they found that there is a part of the brain associated with positive emotions, just as it is for humans.

Not only that, but their research has uncovered new evidence of dogs’ social and emotional intelligence.  It has also shined a light into how dogs empathized with human’s emotions, how they feel “love” for us, and why the human-dog connection is so strong.  Yes, now you can tell your doubting friends and relatives your emotions are backed by science.  No, you didn’t need that, but there are those out there that do.

Remember Emory University?  Gregory Berns is one of those researchers as well as the author of How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.  In a Wall Street Journal article he shared four signs that your dog loves you.

  1. After Eating, Your Dog Cuddles with You
    Dogs live in the moment, so when food’s available, it’s no surprise they go after it with relish. But what’s their top priority after eating? You!
  2. Your Dog Enjoys Sleeping with You
    Whether your dog sleeps with you at night or just naps while you sit on the couch during the day, this is a sign that you’re connected on a social level. Dogs prefer to be with members of their own social group, and that includes all pack members, whether canine, human, feline, or otherwise.
  3. Your Dog Is Happy When You Come Home
    As you know from Cesar, this doesn’t necessarily have to express itself in an all-out jumping, barking, and licking extravaganza. If your dog approaches, tail wagging, you know he’s happy.
  4. You Love Your Dog
    According to Berns, if you don’t love your dog, how can you expect her to return the feeling?

But, please note that separation anxiety is NOT a sign of a dog’s love.  Berns says that really is a behavior problem that needs addressed with training.  A well-adjusted dog “trusts” that you will come back home.  And while there are some people that project unhealthy “emotions” onto their dogs, rest at ease that a healthy, happy dog really does feel love.

How does your dog let you know that he loves and appreciates you?  Leave your story in the comments below.