Love may be defined as an intense feeling of affection and plenty of us have this for our pets. Our pets cannot tell us how they feel, instead, they use certain actions to show us when they feel affectionate. It is up to us to decipher these signs and behaviours to learn what our pets are trying to tell is.
How dogs show love and affection
It is pretty easy to interpret a dog’s body language, but if you are unsure, here are a few common affection signs your dog may show.
Licking – In the dog world, licking is a display of submission to a dominant pack member. In the human-dog world, licking is a way for your dog to feel closer to you and show affection.
If your dog is chronically licking himself, it can be because of boredom, anxiousness, a skin problem or pain and he will need to visit the vet.
Following you – When your dog seems to shadow you wherever you go, it is just his social nature rearing its head. A dog’s devotion means that wherever you are, that’s where he wants to be.
This must not be confused with separation anxiety, where a dog gets very nervous when its owner leaves and cannot be comfortable without him.
Tail wagging – A dog’s tail communicates many different emotions, including happiness, fear, tension or even an imminent attack.
When your dog is happy, he will wag his tail with his whole butt and his tail will sweep back and forth in a friendly way or even in circles.
Smiling – Both humans and dogs use facial expressions to indicate how they are feeling. If you’ve ever thought you have seen your dog flashing the dog version of a smile, you were probably right.
A smile can signal love and affection to an owner or loved one.
Resting his head on your lap or leaning against you – These are signs of love and trust and are a way of showing affection and asking for your attention. When your dog does this, take a moment to pet your dog and let him know that you love him back.
How cats show love and affection
Cats show affection in a different way to dogs as they have a more independent behaviour. This can be misinterpreted as the cat being snobbish or aloof by people who do not know or like cats.
Cheek rubbing and bunting – Bunting is when your cat literally butts his head against you. This is your cat’s way of saying “you are mine, we belong together”, and is a scent compliment.
The pheromones in the scent glands located on your cat’s face and head are associated with friendliness, affection and familiarity.
Kneading – Kneading is a sign of contentment, pleasure and adoring. This is one of the greatest expressions of love that your cat can bestow on you.
Kneading may also be accompanied by purring, bunting, cheek rubbing and possibly a bit of drooling.
Bringing you “gifts” – When your cat brings you a dead mouse, insect, bird or even a toy, don’t yell at or hurt him. He has brought you a gift and is hoping that you will be pleased with his offering.
Bringing you gifts is his way of expressing gratitude and appreciation. Thank him for the gift by petting him and then discard it quietly.
Slow eye blink – This display of affection is your cat’s way of telling you that he trusts you, is comfortable and relaxed. Return the favour by doing a slow blink back at him.
Purring – There is nothing more satisfying than a deep and resounding purr emanating from your cat when he sits on your lap or while you are giving him attention.
Cats may purr for a variety of reasons, but this behaviour almost always indicates contentment, happiness, satisfaction and that they are relaxed. Your cat purrs in your presence, because it feels cared for by you.
Grooming you – Grooming is one of the first affection experiences kittens have. Cats also groom each other both as a stress-reliever and a bonding activity. So, if your cat starts grooming you, it is his way of showing affection and bonding with you.
Every dog and every cat is unique in their expression of love and affection, so there are always more ways than listed.
When your pet shows you love and affection, return the favour, that way your pet will know that you feel the same way.