We love to be loved, and so do our four-legged friends.

While you know how much you adore your gorgeous little chum – in spite of the odd slipper-chewing incident – do they know it?

Why show your dog that the feeling of love is mutual?

One of the best things about being a pet parent is the loving receptions we get when we walk through the front door.

Is there a better ‘welcome home’ than an excited pooch bounding down the hallway to greet you after a hard day?

The daily love our pets show us is why they remain our best friends for life. 

A wet sloppy kiss, a cuddle on the sofa, checking in to make sure we’re ok; they never stop devoting attention to us.

And that feeling never gets old.

In fact, it has been scientifically proven that pet attention actually boosts our mood.

When we spend time interacting positively with our dogs, our bodies experience a surge in the feel-good chemical ‘oxytocin’. It’s this that gives us those warm fuzzy feelings, aiding bonding and lifting our spirits. 

Even the simple act of gently petting your dog has been shown to lower the stress hormone cortisol in humans. 

Mood levels up, stress levels down. Dogs truly are magical beings. 

But the release of these happy hormones works both ways, too. 

Showing your dog love and attention will naturally increase their level of oxytocin, putting them in a better mood, while reducing any anxiety they may be experiencing. 

Showing dogs how much we love them is important, because they do understand what is going on around them; whether it be through our behaviour, how we act around them or how we treat them.

So, here’s how to show your dog you love them: 

1. Use facial expressions.

One of the best ways of telling your dog you love them back is by putting on a happy face. Our dogs want us to be happy; they’re empathetic creatures and they can sense when we’re feeling a bit down.

When a dog raises their eyebrows to you, it’s a signal from them that they are happy to see you. So, raising your own eyebrows, and smiling, tells them you’re cheerful and relaxed, which in turn puts them in a good mood. The more facial expressions you use when greeting your four-legged friends, the more special they’ll feel.

2. Talk to your dog.

Talking to your dog isn’t as crazy as you, or others, may think. Studies have shown that dogs process language in a similar way to humans. The left part of the brain deals with the what we’re saying, while the right portion processes the how we’re saying it. It means that speaking to them in a positive upbeat tone can elicit positive responses.

So, don’t stop saying ‘walkies’ ‘fetch’ ‘good boy/girl’ and of course, ‘love you’.  Conversation needn’t be short and sweet either. Reading to your best friend at length can also help calm them down.

3. Embrace napping together.

Who doesn’t like a good nap time? When your dog comes and lies down with you they’re acknowledging you as one of their ‘pack’. It’s an indication that they feel safe and content in your company; a sign of how your bond has grown since they became a member of the family.

Don’t suddenly jump up, or push them away; if you have the time, lie with them – even if it’s only for a few minutes – or just embrace the nap. There’s few better feelings than snuggling up with your furry pal, so relax and cherish these special moments.

4. Use training as a form of bonding.

No matter how old your dog is, training is a fantastic way of nurturing your pet parent / doggy connection. Dogs love to learn. Teaching them new tricks or commands will not only strengthen that bond through building up trust and communication, it will keep your dog entertained, preventing them from becoming bored or even stressed.

Schedule sessions so they are regular and part of a routine. Your pup will love all the extra attention. Positive reinforcement in the form of treats – not too many – will further strengthen your bond.

5. Lose the distractions.

From social media to the endless stream of TV series, we’re surrounded by all manner of distractions these days. If your dog requires attention or is trying to display affection, but you’re too busy aimlessly scrolling on your phone, this can have a hugely negative impact on your dog’s well-being.

Your tech neglect could leave them feeling alone or unwanted, which can lead to anxiety or behavioural problems. Our dogs are more than just pets; they deserve our full undivided attention. So, put down that phone, and pick up a paw instead.

6. Gazing into their eyes.

You know all about gazing into the eyes of the person you love. Well, how about gazing into the eyes of the dog you love? Staring into those beautiful puppy dog eyes will not only show your four-legged friends how much you love them, it can also make you feel a lot better. Remember the feel-good chemical oxytocin we mentioned earlier in the blog, this simple bit of face-to-face interaction has been shown to increase levels of the hormone in dogs…and humans.

The longer the gaze, the bigger the release. However, you should only make this kind of eye contact with dogs you know.

7. Rub their ears.

Physical affection is another way of instigating a pleasurable oxytocin release. Dogs have a large number of feeling receptors in their ears so gently playing with them will bring about joy and comfort. Stroking or petting any part of your dog’s body shows warmth and affection, and is a great way of maintaining a loving bond. It’s a surefire way to improve your mood, too. Always keep an eye on their reaction though. Over-petting some dogs, especially ones that are overly-stressed, can lead to increased anxiety.

8. Respect their privacy.

Sometimes in order to show our dogs just how much we love them, we have to give them space. Make up a room, or a corner of a room, that’s just for them; somewhere they can go and relax if they’re feeling anxious or stressed. Make it comfortable. Fill it with some of their favourite things; toys, a bed, their food and water bowls.

Understanding your dog’s body language and behaviour – for instance, if they require a bit of alone time – is essential if you’re going to build and maintain a strong and lasting relationship with your pooch.

9. Go for walks.

Your little walking bud gets a breath of mentally stimulating fresh air, coupled with a healthy dose of exercise, every time they set foot out the door.  It’s more than just the health and fitness aspect though. It’s about that quality time you’re spending together as well.

The adventures you two get on while out and about are priceless bonding sessions. Dog’s thrive on routine so try and ensure your daily walkabouts are at the same time. These consistent one-on-one shared experiences will increase their trust, comfort and happiness.

10. Be your dog’s protector.

We tend to think of dogs as being our protectors; guarding our homes, keeping us and our families safe. The truth is though, they need our protection just as much, if not more.

You are your dog’s only defender. If an intimidating dog slowly approaches, shield your dog. If they’re a pup that’s easily scared by people, tell friends and family to keep their distance at first. If they become poorly, do all you can to comfort them. Our dogs are dependent on us for so much. Being there for them, and keeping them safe, is the truest form of love you can show.

Showing your love with a natural diet

One way to a dog’s heart is through food. Our hungry hounds certainly do love a good feast. 

However, this should never be an excuse for overfeeding.  

The best way to show your four-legged friend love through food is by feeding them a diet packed with natural ingredients that’s complete and well-balanced.  

Serving up meals that are brimming natural vitamins and minerals can help them fight disease, boost energy and stay in peak physical condition. 

Healthy dogs are happy dogs. And if they know they’re being looked after, they know they’re loved. 

Applaws Taste Toppers are carefully crafted with love to show love.

Mixing our Toppers in with your dog’s meal will immediately brighten up any bowl, delivering body-boosting nutrients and mouth-watering flavours. 

Chicken Breast with White Beans, Pumpkin & Peas in Gravy Pouch, Beef Bone Broth with Turmeric & Parsley Pouch and Lamb with Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Peas in Jelly Tin.

 Recipes like these ensure your dogs are getting varied sources of high quality protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre.

And they don’t have to be solely used at mealtimes.

Our tasty mix-ins can be offered out as tail-wagging treats. Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to communicate your love, and will strengthen your bond further.   

Putting a smile on their face always helps. Take a look at our How To Make Your Dog Happy and Top Tips On How To Cheer Up A Dog blogs for a few more tips.