How Do Puppies Show Affection?

One of life’s great mysteries is the connection between dogs and humans. (Sorry, cat lovers.) Unlike almost any other animal, humans bond with dogs in a way that goes beyond our typical compassion for cute creatures.

One of the ways to strengthen the bond between dogs and humans is to socialize a puppy well. Introducing them to other members of the family and other pets is a rite of passage for newly adopted pups.

Indeed, socializing your puppy, and helping them gain strong social skills, is essential when you’re a puppy parent. Strong social skills will help a puppy become a well-adjusted, calm, and respectful adult dog.

Part of social training involves showing affection to your puppy through touch, sound, and, of course, the occasional treat. Hugs, belly rubs, scratching their furry little head, and more will go far towards helping a puppy become a good dog.

The question, however, that I hear from many new puppy parents isn’t how to give affection but rather how to know if their pup is giving it. A question I hear often refers to this situation: How do puppies show affection?

The answer is that puppies show their affection in many different ways, including licking you, wagging their tails, crawling up into your lap, and sometimes peeing a little at your feet.

Your puppy might sniff your crotch if they care about you or chew your stuff (because it has your scent). They will also bring their favorite toys to you when they want to play and roll over on their back to expose their belly for rubbing.

Now that you know how puppies show affection, I’m betting you have more questions about puppies and their emotions. How do you tell if a puppy likes you, and do puppies bite to show affection are both excellent questions.

I’ll answer those questions and several more for you below. It’s interesting and useful information that will help you build a stronger bond with your puppy and help them grow into a well-behaved and happy adult dog. 

How Do you Tell if a Puppy Likes You?

Although all puppies are different and express themselves differently, there are certain things that most do to express their love for their humans. One of the most common is by looking you in the eyes. 

Interestingly,  puppies have a hormone called oxytocin that humans also have. This hormone is known as the “love hormone” and is released when a puppy, or human, is happy and joyful. 

So, if you see your puppy looking deep into your eyes, there’s a good chance that they like you a lot. A few other ways to tell if your puppy likes you include:

  • When you arrive home after being away, they are extremely happy and excited to see you.
  • They come to you for physical contact. Often, a puppy will lean against you to show that they feel safe and secure and, of course, would like you to give them a good petting.
  • Your puppy will occasionally check in on you when you are in another part of the house. 
  • Your puppy will raise their eyebrows and shift its ears back when they see you. This expression usually happens with the left eyebrow and ear and means they trust you.

Do Puppies Bite to Show Affection?

Puppies often put their mouth around something or someone when they want to play or be petted. This habit is almost always done with no malice or intent to harm but to show affection. 

One thing to remember is that the average puppy is highly motivated to play and get attention. For that reason, biting, nipping, or “mouthing”  you is something puppies will do a lot. 

Your job as a pet parent is to redirect their nipping into an acceptable behavior with an acceptable object. This task is especially important if you have younger children at home, as even when nipping playfully, a puppy’s sharp teeth can cause some pain.

How Do you Tell if your Dog is Attached to You?

You can tell if your puppy or dog is “attached”  to you and has bonded with you in several ways. They include:

  • Snuggling with your things, especially your clothing, to smell your scent.
  • They make a lot of eye contact with you throughout the day. (A dog that is scared of you or doesn’t like you won’t look directly into your eyes.)
  • They tend to yawn when you yawn. 
  • Your puppy will rest their head on your leg when you are sitting at the table or on the sofa.
  • If your puppy falls asleep on your lap, that is a good sign that they have bonded with you fully.
  • When out walking and off-leash, a puppy or dog who has bonded with you will wait for you to catch up if you fall behind.

How Do you know if a Dog Trusts You?

Puppies and dogs show trust in ways that are both similar and quite different than humans. Your puppy will sleep in your room as often as possible if it trusts you. If you allow them to, a dog that trusts you a lot will also sleep on your bed.

Although you might see it as annoying or bad behavior, if your puppy takes your shoes, it means they trust you. Indeed, if they take anything of yours and want to keep it around, it means they trust you. The reason being is that they want to have something with your scent around them.

One of the most interesting things about how a dog shows they trust humans is how they wag their tails. In 2007, Italian researchers concluded that the direction a dog wags its tail reveals the emotions that it’s feeling.

They found that when a dog wags its tail to the right, they are experiencing positive emotions and trust. On the other hand, if a dog or puppy is wagging its tail to the left, that could mean mistrust, anger, or other negative emotions are at work.

How Long Does it Take for a Puppy to Bond with its Owner?

Puppies bond faster with humans than adult dogs, typically between three weeks to three months. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from adopting an adult dog, just that it might take longer for them to bond with you fully.

The difference is that a puppy knows and has experience with fewer humans than an adult dog. For that reason, some older dogs will be wary or fearful of any human that adopts them. Getting past that fear and wariness and binding with their new human thus takes a bit more time. 

Final Thoughts 

How do puppies show affection? They use numerous methods to show their humans that they love, trust, and want to be with them. One of them includes peeing (just a little) at your feet when you arrive home.

Looking you in the eye, falling asleep on your lap, and wanting to sleep in your bed are some sure signs that your puppy loves you. It doesn’t happen overnight but takes between 3 weeks and 6 months.

I hope you found today’s blog informative and useful. If you have more questions about your new puppy or want to learn more about how to be a puppy parent, please see my other blogs on the subject. 

Until next time, I hope you thoroughly enjoy this time with your new puppy. Your pup won’t stay a puppy forever, so be sure to relish the good times while you can!