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How to tell if your dog or cat loves you

How to tell if your dog or cat loves you

BY Blue Cross

21st Feb 2024 Animals & Pets

3 min read

The British public share a special bond with our pets, so here’s how to tell if your dog or cat loves you. Is it puppy love?
While you may get flowers or a card from the person you love on Valentine's Day, it can be hard to know how our four-legged friends feel about us.
Our cats and dogs can’t tell us how they feel so what are the signs that show that you share a special bond with your pet rather than them just seeing you as a feeding machine?

Signs your dog loves you

Soft eye contact

Think about when someone stares at you, how awkward and uncomfortable you can feel, it’s the same for dogs.
"When your pet looks at you with soft relaxed eyes, they trust you and are happy "
So, when your pet chooses to look at you with soft relaxed eyes, they trust you and are happy in your company, having accepted you as non-threatening.
And, it could be argued, that trust is the highest form of love you can receive.

Tail wagging

Wet dog wagging its tail by a swimming pool
A wagging tail can display a whole range of emotions from your dog but you’ll know when it’s a sign of love when they treat you to a full body wiggle. This will start at their shoulders and carry on through to the tip of their tail. Their tail will spin around in circular motins like helicopter propellers.
This type of tail wagging is usually reserved for people that are special to them, seen most when dogs see their owners—need we say more?

Cuddles (on your pet’s terms)

Your dog can choose to curl up wherever they like so when they cuddle into you they are actively choosing you.
"It can vary from full body cuddles, to leaning into you to ask for some love"
This can vary from full body cuddles, to them leaning into you to ask for some love. However any cuddles must always be on your pet’s terms. Some dogs will find having someone’s arms around them stressful and restrictive and this may cause your dog to shy away from close contact with you.

Happy greeting

Dog sitting with flower in its mouth
It’s great to be welcomed home by our pet and your dog isn’t doing this for the sake of it, it’s a sign that they are genuinely happy to see you.
This is also the case if your dog greets you when they are already wrapped up in another activity, like playing or eating. We all know how much they like their treats, so you know you’re well-loved if they choose you over that!

Licking you

Your dog may lick you for a variety of reasons but one of them is affection. They are ultimately seeking attention from you because they want to interact with you, and licking you is a very quick way to get your attention.

Signs your cat loves you


Cats usually only bump heads with members of the same social group to reinforce their bond. They have scent glands in their cheeks and head which allows them to create a group scent when they headbutt and rub against each other.
"They have scent glands in their cheeks and head which allows them to create a group scent "
So, when they headbutt you, they are essentially seeing you as one of their family and are trying to mingle their smell with yours. In cat language, that’s love.


If your cat kneads you they could be drawing a connection from the secure relationship they had with their mother, to the relationship they have with you.

Licking or grooming you

Cat licking a person's hand
Cats will lick other cats in their social group, partly to create a bond, but also because licking other cats within the group creates a group odour. The group smell helps domesticated and feral cats to tell who is in their social group.
"Cats lick others in their social group, to create a bond and a group smell"
So, your cat is probably licking you because they know they’re a part of your family.

Sleeping with you

Cat sleeping on a woman's arm
Cats sleep a lot by nature and will often take themselves away to a nice quiet and safe spot. Cats make themselves vulnerable when they sleep so if they choose to sleep near you this is a sign of trust.
Claire Stallard, Animal Behaviourist at Blue Cross, said: “Our pets have become our best friends, part of the family, our trusted and loyal companions.
“Once you get to know your pet and learn to read and understand their language, you just might notice the signs that show you just how much they enjoy you being around.”
For more expert pet tips visit bluecross.org.uk
Banner photo: Richard Brutyo
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