by Michael Albee
According to a Gallop Poll, 44 percent of all American households have a dog living in it. Estimates say that this equates to approximately 78 million dogs nationwide.
Most of us love our dogs and they are treated like a part of the family! We have many ways of showing them how much we love them. We give them food and water, and take them to the veterinarian on regular bases. We take them for walks, give them toys and we give them treats too.
neka-bellyBut how can we really know if our dogs are happy? Who can we know if they really love us? Most of us would like to think that they love us, but wouldn’t it be great to know it for sure?
Our dogs can all be stubborn and strong-willed at times. We have all had to deal with dogs that don’t want to “come” when we call them. We have all had those times when they want to play when all we want to do is sit down and relax after a hard day. And how about those times that they try to pull us down the street instead of calmly walking beside us?  Yep, it sometimes feels like a one-sided relationship.
So how can you know for sure that your dog really loves you? Here is a short list of things that will tell you that they love you as much as you love them!
#1 – A Wagging Tail
A wagging tail isn’t always a sign of happiness. But it is generally considered to be a sign of affection and happiness when it is displayed toward the dog’s owner upon arrival home or when coming into a room. In conjunction with other body language (non-ridged stance and general excitement), you can safely assume that your dog is very happy to see you!
#2 – Hanging Out With You
Ally-TuckerDogs will hang out with humans for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason is that they quickly learn that humans are the main source of their food, water and shelter. But dogs are also pack animals. They not only feel more safety in numbers, they also enjoy being with their families.
Hanging out with you and being in close approximation to you is another big clue that your dog loves you and that you make it feel safe and cared for. Yes, they might be “under foot” and be “in the way” once in a while, but just remember that they love the company and just want to be close to you.
#3 – Sleeping With You
As mentioned above, dogs are pack animals. Pack animals sleep huddled together for several reasons. One reason is that it helps them to feel safe because it adds a layer of security. If one of the pack hears something it will alert the rest of the pack. It also provided a sense of companionship and dependence on the whole pack.
Dogs know that the pack is much stronger together than any one dog is by it’s self. It also helps them with warmth. Dogs love to be warm. It is a large part of being comfortable in their surroundings. So the next time your dog wants to cuddle, it is a way for your dog to show you that it not only cares about you, it shows that you are someone that it feels safe around. It wants to be near you because it’s a natural way of showing you it feels comfortable and sees you as family.
#4 – Playing and Roughhousing With You
Every time I walk through my door my dog greets me. It’s always with a waging tail and she always has her favorite toy in tow. Most of the time I have my hands full, but I always take a few seconds to greet her and tell her I’m glad to see her. After I unload my hands I give her a quick pat on the head and I give her a treat. Then, even if it’s only for a moment, I take time to play with her.
We have scheduled “play times” several times per day, but sometimes she gets playful when I’m working or busy doing something. This is natural. It’s a way of connecting with us. If you’ve ever watched a group of dogs playing together you’ll recognize they offer the same behavior to each other as they do to you. Playing and roughhousing is an essential activity and is a quick and effective way to build a bond between you and your dog. It is also a great way to keep your relationship strong!
#5 – Trust And Respect
As with human relationships, the relationship you have with your dog MUST be based on trust and respect. Building a strong bond is the only way your dog will trust and respect you. As one who has worked with dogs for over 45 years, it is very easy for me to see if a dog has trust and respect in their owner.
Like a human relationship, trust comes only with time. The more time you spend with your dog, the faster the bond of trust will develop. Once trust is built, respect will come. When trust and respect are present your dog will do ANYTHING you ask without question because it knows that you will do the same for it.
This is known as Unconditional Love!