1. Tell Them!
Do you ever catch yourself having entire conversations with your dog as if your first language was his as well? Well if you answered 'yes' or lied 'no,' then rest assured that you’re not alone… or even on the wrong track for that matter. Recent studies using MRI technology have shown that your dog may not be quite as in the dark about what you’re saying as you think.
Research has shown that the average dog can understand around 165 words and is capable of learning more with training. In fact, one Collie named Rico was reported to have learned 200 words, putting him at around the same intelligence level as most toddlers.
Also keep in mind that while dogs may not be capable of understanding your entire language, tone of voice actually plays a huge role in how your dog interprets what you say. Reading to shelter dogs has proved incredibly calming for them and can even help shyer dogs become more relaxed and ultimately open to trust their human reader. So go ahead, if you love your dog, tell them!
2. Learn Their Language
Though they may not be able to use words, many dog owners can testify that dogs definitely have their own ways of communicating. As is also true with people, dogs rely a huge deal on body language to communicate. The more attention you pay to your dog's tail movements, facial expressions, and body language, the more you’ll learn their language and increase your ability to respond to their wants and needs.
3. Share a Soulful Look
While staring a dog straight in the eye can be taken as a threatening or even aggressive gesture, many owners are familiar with the long, sweet gazes dogs will sometimes give which seem to communicate their love. This can work both ways, as studies show that kind, loving gazes between dogs and their owners can up the levels of oxytocin, aka “the love chemical," in each.
4. Be Aware of Your Facial Expressions
Why you ask? Because chances are your dog is too. Studies prove that dogs can read just as much or more from our facial expressions and body language as we can read from their's. For instance, the next time your dog greets you, notice his eyebrows. Raised brows in dogs- sometimes the left more so than the right- is a sign of affection and love. Rest assured that nothing would make your pooch happier than to see you raise your brows and smile in return.
5. Give Them a Love Lean
Have you ever had a dog lean on your when you were sitting side by side? If so, then you’ve found a buddy for life because dogs only lean on those they love and trust. Show your pooch you feel the same way by leaning gently on them the next time you find yourself sharing a couch cushion.
6. Get Cuddly
If you’re constantly coming into the bedroom to find your bed commandeered by your dog, know that it’s not just about finding the cuddliest place to sleep as far as he's concerned. As with people, feeling comfortable enough to sleep next to someone is a huge sign of trust from a dog. Even if you don’t have enough room to share a bed at night, inviting your pooch up onto the couch to share an afternoon cuddle or snooze means a lot to them.
7. Walk The Walk
Keep in mind that dogs are pack animals, so the more you walk together, the stronger your bond as pack mates will become. Dogs tend to thrive on routines and association so scheduling a daily walk after you get home from work can give them something to look forward to all day.
8. Never Underestimate The Power of The Belly Rub
Perhaps it’s a given that petting your dog is one of the surest ways to show your love. Studies show that touch releases oxytocin in both dogs and their owners, so giving your dog a hug, petting that adorable head, or giving them a nice gentle brush out are all sure fire ways to show you care.
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