Top Tips to show your dog love this Valentine's Day
Bella & Duke’s Canine Behaviourist Caroline Spencer shares her top ways both you and your dog can show some love in time for Valentine’s Day.
Love is a four-legged word, and we all know that life is a little easier with a furry friend by your side. People often think our dogs can't communicate with us, but actually they speak to us with what they do - their body language and behaviours. If we can learn to recognise these behaviours, we can improve our relationship and build a stronger bond that lets them live the healthy, happy lives they deserve.
Eye contact & facial expression
The signs your dog loves you come from their whole body. Dogs watch us, they look deep into our eyes and study our facial expressions. Our own dogs will look into our eyes with a soft gaze of pure adoration. If you’re looking at displays of affection from your dog, you are looking for a super-soft, gentle blinking gaze and relaxed body.
Snuggling up and sleeping next to you
Dogs snuggle up to each other like any other family animal for warmth, comfort, and security. A cuddle shows they would rather be snuggled with you than anywhere else. A true trusting love cuddle is one where your dog sleeps soundly and remains super relaxed, whatever goes on around them. They trust you as much as love you, meaning they can deal with the comings, goings and noises of daily life.
Waggy tail with relaxed body
Body language should always be taken as a whole, as opposed to isolated elements. If your dog displays a relaxed body with a lovely swish of their tail when in your company, it’s a sign that they are happy and relaxed.
Yawning in sync with you
Many studies have been done to explain and understand yawning in dogs and humans. Often, when we yawn, others yawn around us, and so do our dogs. This can mean they want to show their connection and empathy towards us.
A happy greeting at the door
Coming home from a day of work to be greeted by a happy dog can easily cure a stressful day. When you are greeted by a playful pooch it’s for a reason, they’re genuinely happy to see you and this can be a great opportunity to initiate play time, make use of their excitable energy and build a stronger bond with one another. Be sure to make the most of these times, play some games or step out for some fresh air, stretch the legs and play a game of fetch.
As well as understanding your furry friend and the ways they show us love, Caroline also shares her five key ways that you can show your love to your four legged friend this Valentine's Day and beyond.
Patience and respect are key - When we relax and simply help our dogs to make better choices, they will fit in with ease. Dogs can pick up on when we feel anxious or tense and tend to mirror these emotions. Embrace your dog for who they are, their personality and character will shine through. Guide them, but don’t force them, to fit into our sometimes-confusing world. Boundaries, personal space, and safety are paramount and always work both ways. Treat them with trust, love and respect and they will treat you the same way.
Make them the centre of your world – Spending quality time with your dog is one of the best way to show your furry friend that you love them. Dogs are social animals, they need company. Although every dog is different, we don't recommend leaving them alone for more than four hours per day as this can be detrimental for their mental health. Enjoying a cosy cuddle together, playing games they enjoy, or simply enjoying each other’s company are easy ways to make your furry friend feel great!
Surprise them with treats – Everyone deserves tasty treats, it's a great idea to use natural treats to reward your dog and reinforce a positive connection between you both. Natural treats allow you to treat your dog without feeling guilty, and they can be a great tool for training, enrichment or simply a surprise. Just make sure not to use this as the only tool to gain a connection at the expense of not forming a proper bond.
Make them feel safe – Your dog is part of the family, and like children, they look to you for guidance and protection. As pet parents it is important to eliminate as much fear, stress and anxiety we can for our furry friends. You are their guardian, mentor, and trusted companion. Gaining your dog’s trust by making them feel safe will earn you a friend for life.
Ensure their life is full of enrichment – Allowing your dog to try different fun activities, such as nose games/brain games and sniffy walks with you will make them happier. Ensure your switching up from the expected every now and again to give them some variety. Visiting different environments together such as the beach or the forest can help grow the bond between you. You know your dog best, so work together, experiment and find ways to enrich their life that suit you both to make sure you are living a life well loved.
Caroline added, "Living together and forming a relationship with your dog takes time. Highs and lows through puppyhood, adolescence to adulthood are natural as they learn how to fit in, and we learn what they mean by what they do. There is no rush to make the grade, any grade. Just do right by them the best you can, and enjoy one another's company naturally.”