9 Ways Your Dog Says 'I Love You'

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Ah, puppy love. As our life-long companions, dogs are not just pets, they're our canine fur babies. And we know they love us...or do they? Are we just seeing what we want to see? Well, never fear, dear dog lover, science has confirmed that, yes, our dogs do love us. And they show us their love as only they can.

I Just Wanna Be Close To You

1. Hogs the Covers

Whether you're in the "all dogs on the bed!" or "no dogs on the bed!" camp, the fact of the matter is, if your dog does or wants to sleep with you, she is showing you her love. The same is true if your dog chooses to sleep where you sleep even when you're out and about.

2. Lean On Me, or Rather You

Girl with dog

If your sweet cuddle muffin won't leave your side and often leans against you, this isn't necessarily a sign of neediness or separation anxiety. Nope, it means "I love you!" in dog speak. According to Dr. Frank McMillan, author of Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet's Feelings Hold the Key to His Health and Happiness, a dog's affection can be indicated by its desire to be physically close to you. Although it may appear to be clinginess, it's an indication that your dog feels a strong bond towards you.

3. Smile and Your Dog Smiles With You

Dr. Gregory Berns loved his dog so much, he and his team at Emory University set out to find what our dogs feel about us. In How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, Dr. Berns states that dogs "have a high capacity for empathy. More than intuiting what we think, dogs may also feel what we feel. Dogs have emotional intelligence." So if you've ever noticed Fluffy becoming sad when you're sad and elated when you're elated, it might mean that your pet is really empathizing with you.

4. Bellies Full of Love

Dogs love food. You don't have to be a scientist to know that. But, according to Dr. Berns, when dogs love you, they show their love and appreciation by cuddling with you after filling their sweet puppy bellies.

When We're Face to Face

5. When I Yawn, You Yawn, We Yawn

Yep, this goes for your fluffy bugaboo too. In a study at Lund University in Sweden, Dr. Elainie Madsen and her colleagues found that your emotional closeness with your dog causes Fido to yawn when you yawn.

6. Loooook Into My Puppy Eyes

The next time that your fluffy lovebug holds your gaze, know he's hugging you with her eyes. No, your dog isn't trying to hypnotize you. Your furry friend is trying to communicate how much love he has for you. In fact, Japanese scientists found after a 30-minute eye gazing session between owners and their pups, the dogs had higher levels of oxytocin, i.e. the cuddle hormone, coursing through their cuddly little bodies.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

7. Loves to Watch You Leave

"My dog doesn't care when I leave!" If you've ever had this thought, it might make you think your little Mookypoo is happy you're leaving. But think again! If your cuddly bundle of fur barely lifts a paw when you leave for work, this actually means he loves you but is, luckily, not suffering from separation anxiety (which is all too common in dogs.)

8. You're Home! You're Home! You're Home!!!

On the other hand, if your dogs are super excited to see you when you do return, that is also a sign they love you and they missed you.

And One More for My (Fur) Baby

9. Rub My Belly!

Rubbing dog's belly

Here's the rub... the belly rub, that is. Given the choice, do you think your dog wants a belly rub or a treat? Knowing how much dogs love food, you probably think the treat. But thanks to the findings of a recent study, your dog might actually prefer the belly rub. Choosing your affection over food?!? If that isn't love, then what is?

So the next time someone tells you it's just an animal's instinct to not bite the hand that feeds them, let them know that not only has it been proven that our dogs love us, but they love to show us too! Don't forget to show your pets love in return. Because, after all, who doesn't love to be loved?

9 Ways Your Dog Says 'I Love You'