Ever wonder how much your dog really loves you?
There are many ways that humans tell their dogs they love them. We know without a doubt that we love our dogs and that our dogs love us in return. But how do they show their love? Every dog parent might have a slightly different answer to this question, but as it turns out, there are plenty of correct answers.
Canine Cottages, a company with a series of dog-friendly cottages in the UK, recently conducted a study that measures a dog’s love. So, now there’s solid proof that our dogs truly love us.
This study conducted by Canine Cottages, shows that dogs not only understand their humans but also what the owners are saying; the study revealed that dogs’ heart rates increased, on average, by 46 percent when their owners said “I love you” to their furry family members.
More info: Canine Cottages
For the experiment, the researchers at Canine Cottages strapped four doggos with heart rate-tracking collars to show how their heart rate changed during specific interactions; during the one-week period, the dogs had an average resting heart rate of 67 beats per minute (bpm). However, when their owners would say “I love you,” they would spike to an average of 98 bpm.
During the study, they discovered ten different ways that dogs show their love for us based on their heart rates:
- Licking or kissing
- Curling up on you or next to you
- Greeting you with a wagging tail
- Begging for attention, such as pawing at you or resting their head on you
- Bringing their favorite toy to you
- Showing their belly or sleeping on their back
- Protecting you
- Jumping up on you
- Chewing on your belongings
- Approaching you when they’re in pain
Similarly, the dogs would exhibit relaxation — a decrease of 23 percent to about 57 bpm — when they would cuddle with their owners. In a statement to People, campaigns manager at UK-based Canine Cottages Shannon Keary said, “It’s amazing to see that our dogs’ heart rate increases when they are told they are loved, showing excitement, and decreases when having cuddles, showing contentedness.”
Though the study’s small sample size is limiting, any dog owner or animal lover will tell you that you don’t need any empirical evidence to prove to you not only that your dog understands what you’re saying, but also that they’re capable of receiving, appreciating, and expressing their love.
According to Canine Cottages, there are certain ways your dog can express their love for you; the actions include, kissing/licking, cuddling, giving greetings, begging, sharing his/her toys or being generous, showing his/her belly, acting loyal, jumping up, destroying your belongings (yes, really, this is a mark of affection!), and coming to you when they’re hurt, distressed, or in any discomfort.
“It’s amazing to see that our dogs’ heart rates increase when they are told they are loved, showing excitement, and decreases when having cuddles, showing contentedness,” said Shannon Keary, the campaigns manager at Canine Cottages. “It’s also interesting to see all the weird and wonderful ways our pets show their love for us. From this data, we can now officially say that our dogs really do love us!”
As part of their study, owners also were documented experiencing an increase of blood pressure of around 10 percent when owners see their beloved pups — which isn’t surprising, as the physical and mental benefits of pet ownership has been well-documented. Research has found that petting a dog releases oxytocin — sometimes called the “love hormone” — because it is released when people feel good and bond socially with other humans.
Per the CDC, studies have shown that the benefits of owning a pet include decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, decreased triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness, and increased opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization. Having a pet has proven to be especially beneficial for homes with children, as it helps little ones with social support, and kids who are raised with dogs show improved behavior, heightened empathy for others, and lower anxiety levels, the Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center explains.
Any pet owner knows just how much having a pet does for you — but it sure is nice to have science confirm it. Make sure you say thank you to your pup for all he or she does for you with extra treats, walks, or even more “I love yous” today!
This wholesome study has confirmed that dogs show their love for us in nearly everything they do. So, now you have an excuse to say “I love you” to your dog more than you already do.