How Do Dogs Show Affection? 15 Heartwarming Ways

Without a doubt, as a dog owner, you have looked at your pup daily and seen the love they have for you. Even when they are bratty, you still adore them. Whether it’s snuggling up with you on the sofa when you’re having a bad day or being ever so gentle with your little children, dogs have many ways of showing love and affection. There are some clear signs and others that are less so, but your dogs show affection and care in a variety of ways. 

Read on to find out fifteen of the many ways your dogs show affection.

1.Eye Contact

Much like humans, if a dog makes eye contact with you, it is their way of telling you they adore you. Deep long eye contact with your dog builds trust and deepens the bond you and your dog share. 

You obviously don’t have to stare back for hours on end, but know that they don’t always want to steal what’s on your plate when they are staring up at you. Sometimes they are just showing you affection. 

2. Licking 

Obsessive licking can be a problem, but normally it’s just a slightly gross but sweet way dogs show affection. Licking produces endorphins for your dog, but it is also a way of building a bond. It is also part of your dog’s social development. A mother dog will like her puppies both to clean them and build up a bond. Your dog will like you to show love and build a bond with you. 

Dog’s will also lick you to get another form of reward back, like pets or cuddles. Licking can be an attention-seeking thing as they want your focus for a few minutes. They are proving they need you and (sometimes) want something in return. 

3. Leaning 

Anyone who has ever met or owned a dog will have probably had a moment where the pup comes over and leans on your leg. This is because they want to be right up close next to you, and although a little inconvenient if you need to move, they want to comfort you and show you some love. It is an adorable and harmless way dogs show affection. 

It is more common for bigger dogs to lean as small dogs can be picked up and cuddled. So if your Great Dane or Husky leans up against you, give them some love back.

4. Sleeping Nearby 

During puppyhood, littermates snuggle up close to each other, forming a bond and feeling safe and secure. When they get older, they may do a similar thing when they want to sleep close to you or as near as they can get. They want that same warmth and coziness with you.

If your dog insists on taking up half your bed or sleeps at your feet, it means that they really enjoy your company and think of you as a member of their pack. 

This isn’t something every pup will do, but there is nothing better than sharing space with their human for some. 

5. Showing You Toys

Have you ever sat on the couch, and your dog randomly brings you either their favorite toy or a broken toy? Well, this is an affectionate way of your dog telling you that they trust you. 

If they bring you something, they want to love and please you as the pack leader and make you smile. They may even want to play with you, or they need your attention at that moment. 

If they bring you a broken toy, it may be a way of saying that they trust you enough to look after and fix that toy. Dogs can be quite possessive of their things, so if they allow you to handle them, it is a true sign of love and trust.

6. Sighing 

You know that feeling when you settle in at night with a good book and fresh sheets, that sigh of comfort and relaxation. Dogs do the same thing! 

When your dog hops up on your lap or lays down next to you and lets out a big sigh as they drift off to snooze, it shows they are comfortable and happy to be there with you. 

Keep an eye out for excessive sighing as this can be an indication that something is wrong, but if your pup is cutely sighing as they sleep, it’s just another way they show love.

7. Nose Nudge

Your dog is loyal to you and will welcome you home after work or time away. Much like you boop their cute little snoot, dogs show affection and greet you by booping you right back. 

They will also nudge you if they need something, want you to move over, or just to say, β€œHey, what you’re doing β€” fine by me.” As long as it isn’t excessive or obsessive behavior, snoot boops from your dog are just another way they communicate with you.

8. Rolling over 

Scared or nervous dogs often curl up as small as possible to conserve heat and protect their internal organs. It is a residual behavior from their wild ancestors. 

If your pup is currently sprawled out next to you, belly exposed, making goofy eye contact with you, you can rest assured that that dog loves you dearly.

If your dog rolls over and lets you give them all the belly rubs, they truly trust you. 

9. Following 

Some dogs cannot let you go to the bathroom alone. It can be both annoying and sort of endearing. Their big eyes staring up at you as they practically trip you up while you go about the house. There are many reasons they are following you β€” they may want something, it might be close to feeding time, or they might be bored. 

Dogs understand that you are beneficial to them as they get companionship and care from you. In return, they want to be with you ALL the time. Don’t let it become an inconvenience and if something feels wrong, consult a professional.

10. Herding 

In a similar vein to following, your dog β€” especially herding breeds like Border Collies β€” may try and herd you. It is a behavior that can be trained out of the dog if it is too much to handle, but your dogs show affection towards their pack and their pack leader in this way in the while. So when they are doing it to you, they consider you their leader. 

They want to keep their pack/family together, so if you are walking somewhere with a large group, your pup may try and keep people together if they stray away from the main β€œherd.” It is a slightly strange way dogs show affection but still cute. 

11. Tail

Everyone knows the sign of a happy dog is when their tail starts wagging uncontrollably. A dog’s tail can communicate many things, but there is nothing quite like coming home after a long day of work and your pup making eye contact with you, and their tail starts wiggling. They have missed you and are so happy to see you again.

12. Guarding 

Dogs want to protect the things they love. Your dog loves you. Thus, it isn’t unreasonable that they may exhibit some guarding behavior. Even if there isn’t really any threat, your dog wants to look out for you.

13. Jumping

A more enthusiastic way of showing love but affectionate nonetheless. Your dog wants to look you in the eyes and jump up to give you a little lick on the cheek. It can be an undesirable habit to some, but with a bit of training and an understanding, it is just them showing they care. You will see it as a true sign of affection.

14. Rubbing their Face on You 

Like nose nudging, your dog might rub their face on yours to show you that they love you. They share this behavior with other dogs to communicate, and they may use it on you. They might just want attention from the person they love the most.

15. Smiling

That big goofy face your dog is pulling that looks like a smile is just your pup’s way of communicating to you that they are totally relaxed in your presence. There is nothing cuter than your pup looking up at you with their big doe eyes, panting with what looks like a goofy grin. It is just another bit of body language that dogs show affection by.


Whether they are an ESA, service dog, or beloved family pet, every pooch will do all they can to show you that they care about you. 

If you are considering certifying your go to become your ESA, you may need to train out or calm down some less desirable ways dogs show affection. If you have any questions, get in contact with an expert such as ESA Registration to find out the requirements.