How Dogs Show Affection to Their Humans is Not What Many Would Expect

woman with dog

Check out these four ways dogs show affection. If you have a pooch you probably already have experienced them!

Dogs show affection with jumping
Not all humans, of course, like to be jumped on, but often dogs do so to get closer to your face and give you a big “Welcome home, friend!” lick. The human face is incredibly important to dogs. They are so attuned to us that they know us better than we know them. Most humans like to see an exuberant dog greeting them when they get home, but we trainers like to give the dogs different greeting ritual behaviors, like a lovely sit with a happy tail thumping on the ground.

Dogs show affection with learning

I’ve worked with some large Labradors and Rottweilers (as well as other breeds) who love to lean on their human’s leg while getting a scratch hello. The dog is often looking up and into their humans’ eyes during the lean in, looking all smiley with a mouth open and soft eyes. On the other paw, sometimes an insecure dog leans in for comfort and support. Nothing wrong with that.

Dogs show affection with their faces
What’s happening with a dog’s face when she is happy with a human? Dogs can smile or grin. In general, you want to see an open, relaxed mouth and not a shut-tight grimace. Panting can be a sign of stress, so a happy dog might have her mouth open toward you, but shouldn’t be excessively panting — unless it’s a hot day or she has been exercising. Canine language must be taken in context.

Dogs show affection with their tails
A wagging tail speaks volumes (although what is communicates isn’t as important to canine language as is a dog’s face and overall body posture). I love seeing what I call the big, windy helicopter tail on a dog I am meeting. My Border Collie, Radar, gives a big, circling tail wag when he meets people. If you tried to move your head around in the same way as his tail moves, you’d get dizzy quickly.


But remember, there is always an exception to the rule and we suggest you go over to Dogster to read the full story on these shows of affection! There are times when a dog leaning on you can mean he’s warning you to not fuss with him!

In any event, we’re pleased to read what we thought of all along, our dog does smile when he is happy and content even though, for years, some “experts” told a dog does not know how to smile! We saw it so why couldn’t the people who seemed to know everything about dog psychology?!

Share This Post:

Add Comment