Company of Animals

Why “puppy love” is so successful

The greeting you get from your dog after a long day is one of the best feeling in the world. Loving gazes and their funny little habits have us all brimming with oxytocin, the “happy hormone” daily – but is the feeling mutual? ABSOLUTELY!

The dog-human friendship is arguably the most successful in nature dating back many thousands of year ago and this Valentine’s Day, we got to thinking… why???

A study by Therese Rehn et al (2014) investigated whether or not there is a link between how an owner feels about their relationship, and how the dog feels. Not an easy feat. Of course, it’s easy to find out how owners feel about their dogs: you ask them. However, it’s not quite so easy for the 20 pooch participants…

Originally developed for children, Rehn used a measure of attachment method that assessed differences in the dog’s behavior with their owner and then a stranger. While all the dogs were very social to both owner and stranger, the results showed all the dogs played and explored the room more with their owner present, whilst still remaining close. Put simply, “a dog’s owner is a unique person from whom it seeks comfort, security and reassurance.”

How dog’s show love

A dog’s love and your unique bond is not something to be taken for granted, they offer it up in some of the best ways….

They’re excited when you get home – whether it’s been 5 hours or 5 minutes since they saw you, the certainty of their happy welcome is an undisputable sign of affection

They sleep with you – As pack animals, dogs will naturally want to bunk down with their leader for safety and security. Be it in your bed or at the foot of your sofa (everyone has different rules!), your dog’s desire to sleep in your company is heartfelt.

They snuggle up to you – has your dog ever leaned into your pets? Perhaps it’s a signal for heavier pets but it’s also a sure sign they totally trust you. If you were to get comfy on the sofa and they come and sit on your lap or by your feet, they clearly feel safe with you.

They bring you presents – Play time is great but it may be that you dog wants to share with you too. Dog’s have very little to physically offer you so the happy presentation of that mangled squeaky duck toy may mean more than you realize….


Fiona Whelan ~ Pet Behaviourist

Fiona has been working at the Training and Behaviour Centre as a behaviour specialist since 2002, and previously ran her own training and behaviour establishment in Lincolnshire for seven years so has a wealth of experience as a behaviour counsellor.