You probably know what your love language is and what your partner’s is, but what about your pet’s? Do you know how they receive love? To find out, we spoke with General Practice & ER Veterinarian, Sylvalyn Hammond who is known as The Honest Vet on Instagram. She revealed that the secret to showing your furbaby how much you care about them all comes down to communication. However, she says the trick is knowing the right way to communicate with your pet, because even though you might treat them like a member of your family, they don’t experience love the same way people do. Fortunately, she’s here to help you learn how to show your dog you love them.
“Dogs have different communication styles and interpret affection in their own way,” Hammond tells Parade. “While humans often rely on verbal and physical expressions, dogs rely heavily on body language, scent and behavior.” Because of this, she says that sometimes, there are occasional misunderstandings between owners and their pets, which is why they might not react in an enduring way if you hug or kiss them.
“Dogs may not comprehend the concept of kissing as a display of affection, and can find it intimidating due to the close proximity of your face,” she explains. “The same goes for hugging. In some cases, hugging your dog can make them feel scared because it restricts their movement and can be perceived as threatening behavior, or make them feel uncomfortable.”
So what should you do instead? Hammond explains there are several other ways you can express your feelings to your pup. “Dogs usually feel more loved through actions that align with their natural behaviors,” she states. “Those things strengthen the bond they share with you and create positive associations with your presence, which provides your dog with a sense of security and happiness.”
To find out 10 ways you can show your dog that you love them in ways that they’ll actually understand, see what Hammond suggests you do, below.
Related: 10 Sweet Signs Your Dog Thinks of You as Their Mom and Dad
10 Ways To Show Your Dog You Love Them
1. Go on Extra-long Walks
“Regular walks provide mental stimulation, exercise and an opportunity for bonding,” Hammond says. “Extra-long walks, or more frequent outings, indicate your commitment to their well-being, which reinforces the idea that you care about their physical and mental health.”
Related: 10 Sweet Signs Your Dog Feels Safe With You, According to a Veterinarian
2. Make Eye Contact with Your Dog
According to Hammond, making eye contact can be a form of bonding and positive communication for dogs. “Holding eye contact with your dog in a calm and loving manner establishes a connection and reinforces the sense of trust and companionship,” she explains. “Some dogs, however, find eye contact threatening, so avoid making eye contact with dogs who aren’t your pet and are not comfortable with you.”
3. Learn Your Pet’s Signals
“Understanding your dog’s body language and responding to their needs, such as recognizing when they need to go out, demonstrates attentiveness and care,” Hammond tells Parade. “It shows them that you are tuned into their signals, strengthening the bond of understanding.”
Related: The Real Reason Why Dogs Like To Sleep in Their Owners’ Beds
4. Give Your Pup Scratches
Hammond says one way you can show affection through touch is by scratching your pup. “Dogs have sensitive areas, and gentle touches like head scratches and belly rubs, mimic social grooming behaviors, which trigger feelings of comfort and affection, making your dog feel loved and secure,” she reveals.
5. Have Cuddle Time
If you’re a cuddler, there’s a good chance your furbaby will be too. “Cuddling satisfies a dog’s need for physical closeness and warmth, reinforcing the emotional connection between you and your pet,” Hammond assures Parade. “It creates a sense of security and affection.”
Related: Oh No—Do Any of These Behaviors Sound Familiar? 5 Things That Can Hurt Your Dog’s Feelings, According to Pet Experts
6. Make Sure Your Dog is Comfy
Another way Hammond says you can make your pet feel loved is to keep their needs in mind and gift them with things that will make them feel at home and taken care of. “Providing something, like a new, comfortable bed demonstrates you care for your dog’s physical well-being,” she shares. “It signals that you prioritize their comfort, and that makes them feel loved and valued.”
7. Surprise Them With Toys
Guess what? There’s a reason your pup gets extra excited when you buy them a new toy. “The act of giving your dog a toy that provides entertainment and stimulation communicates your affection to them and lets them know you want to make them happy. It also enriches their environment and engages them mentally and physically,” Hammond explains.
8. Take Your Dog for Sniff Walks
There’s a difference between taking your dog out for a regular walk and taking them out for a sniff walk. A sniff walk is one way Hammond suggests you can make your pup feel extra loved. “Allowing your dog to explore and sniff during walks taps into their natural instincts and provides mental stimulation. This freedom indicates respect for their curiosity, making them feel loved and understood,” she points out.
Related: How To Speak Your Dog’s Love Language
9. Reward Your Dog with Treats
Who doesn’t like treats? “Treats serve as positive reinforcement and a form of reward for your pets,” Hammond tells Parade. “Offering treats for good behavior, or just as an expression of love, creates a positive association, which in turn strengthens the bond between you and your dog.”
10. Speak in a High-Pitched Tone
If you thought the high-pitched baby voice you use when speaking to your pet might annoy them, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, Hammond tells Parade dogs actually like it! “Using a high-pitched and gentle tone when talking to your dog can be reassuring and comforting for them,” she reveals. “Dogs respond well to the tone and rhythm of speech because it conveys affection and positive intentions.”
Next: 9 Ways To Fill Your Dog’s Emotional Cup, According to Pet Experts