How do dogs show their affection?

The life of someone who spends time with a dog can be the polar opposite of one spent with a cat: the feline, often unfairly accused of being an opportunist, is a discrete friend, whereas a dog differentiates itself by its loyalty and total dedication to his owner.

Where the cat is a relational pet, a dog is known and loved for its social nature, which makes coexistence with man a breeze. In fact, both species (human and dog), are inclined to communicate with each other – man primarily through speech and the canine through body language – building an affective relationship. But, which are unmistakable signs of affection in dogs? Dr Maria Grazia Calore, veterinary surgeon and expert in behaviour, helps us to recognise them.

I’m happy to see you! Welcome back!

Wagging tail, barking, jumping, happy look and playful: these are the typical signs used by the dog to express its joy at seeing us again. It matters little if we have been away for some hours or just a few minutes!

“I look at you; I ask you how I should behave”

A dog looks at its owner for guidance because it considers them a social reference, a trusty friend it can reply on to understand if a situation is dangerous or not.

“Can we do something together?”

A dog will, quite often, ask us to interact by either tapping us with its paws, jumping on us or, if it’s polite and calm, it may sit and look at us with those puppy dog eyes, possibly even laying its snout on or near our hand. These gestures are also signs of affection: the quadruped considers us a person with whom he can happily spend time, perhaps cooperating to reach a common goal.

“I want to be near you!”

There are many dogs that, even in the hottest weather, want to be held in their owners’ arms or be literally by their side all the time. Physical proximity gives a dog a feeling of security: the dog considers us a member of the pack whom he can trust and can give him protection and warmth.

Finally, let’s not forget about the dog’s habit of licking its owner, a sign of affection and more.