5 Universal Things Your Dog and Cat Do to Show You They Love You

5 Universal Signs Your Dog and Cat Love You
Getty Images

From cuddling them to playing fetch, it’s easy enough for humans to show their pets how much they love them. However, it’s not as clear for owners’ animals to reciprocate the feeling.

Thanks to a breakdown from Wisdom Health’s veterinary genetics research manager, Dr. Angela Hughes DVM PhD, people can now figure out the ways their furry friends are attempting to show their adoration. Whether you’re a feline-friendly household, or prefer a clan of canines, these ways your pet shows their love will have you seeing their affection in a brand new light.

5 Universal Signs Your Cat Loves You Courtesy of Dr. Hughes:

1. Staking their claim by marking you as their territory: They do this in various ways including rubbing their cheek on your hand or face to spread their happy pheromones on you, head butting you, or even licking you to cover you in their scent and mark you as theirs.

2. Kissing you with their eyes: Cats show their love and trust by looking at you directly with relaxed, half-closed eyes and slowly blinking. These are called “cat kisses” so feel free to wink or “kiss” back!

3. Talking to you: Cats can make various sounds from meows to chirps to a buzzing purr. Cats usually only “talk” to those they like so appreciate a talkative cat for the love they are sharing and you can get their purr-motor running by stroking or scratching them especially behind the ears, under the chin, or at the base of the tail.

4. Being with you: Cats will often follow their favorite people around the house and hang out near them, next to them, or directly on them.

5. Sharing the wealth: Cats are natural born hunters — they will hunt toys, tidbits or other, often less desirable, things. When they bring it to you, they are gifting you with a “meal” because they care.

5 General Signs Your Dog Loves You Courtesy of Dr. Hughes:

1. Tail wagging: A dog can express many emotions through their tails, but a happy, relaxed dog will show it by a friendly tail wag often with a smile on their face.

2. Spending time with you/following you everywhere: As dogs were developed from the wolf, which are known for their loyalty to the pack and sociability, our dogs are the same way, and they show it by wanting to be in our space – following us around from room to room as we move about the house.

3. Licking you: Another carry-over from their wolf ancestors who would lick their mother’s faces to indicate that they were hungry, the modern dog uses this instinct to let us know that they care about us and are not a threat. They will also do it as an act to groom you which is another way to show intimacy.

4. Leaning on you/sitting in your lap/being in contact: Dogs will show their affection and attention by leaning against you, curling up in your lap, or just resting a nose or paw on you. They also often like to sleep with you (if allowed) similar to how wolf packs sleep together.

5. Play: Depending on the dog, this can take many forms from retrieving games to chasing games to rolling around on the ground together. Most dogs love to engage you in play as a means of showing affection and forming a bond, not to mention getting out a little of their energy.

For dog lovers, Dr. Hughes also broke down the signs your pup pal may show their loyalty based on their breed group. Not sure what group your dog falls under? Wisdom Panel is an easy way to tests your dog’s DNA. Once you send in a cheek swab, the genetic testing begins, allowing you to become even closer with your canine by identifying their background and helping bring specific health issues to your attention.

Asian
Common Breeds: Akita, Chinese Shar Pei, Chow Chow
How They Show Love: Breeds like Akita, Chow Chow and Chinese Shar Pei were originally bred for various purposes including the guarding of people and property. Often aloof or reserved with strangers and can show an independent spirit, they have a reputation as being loyal to their own pack or family. They often show their love for their pack by attentively sitting near (but not on) their family members.
Their Love Language: For Asian breeds, it is generally best to give them their space and let them come to you. As with any dog, but especially this group, they like to give and receive love on their own terms.

Arctic
Common Breeds: Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, Siberian Husky
How They Show Love: Breeds like the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Samoyed were bred to be highly active, social dogs that can work well in a pack. Thus, they can be very playful and friendly when they show affection (e.g. jumping, roughhousing, and engaging with toys).
Their Love Language: Due to their energy levels, Arctic breeds do best when they have been given a lot of exercise, and they also enjoy playtime with their human. They can have a stubborn streak, but you can get around this with motivational tools such as treats and their favorite toys in reward-based obedience training.

Companion
Common Breeds: Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu
How They Show Love: Breeds like the Bichon Frise, Pekingese, Pomeranian, and Shih Tzu all have royal lineages where they were lap dogs and companions to royalty. They are typically friendly and intelligent dogs that show their affection by being with you. Because we tend to hold them close, they often also share their love by “kissing” your face. Additionally, they make good watch dogs as they will happily alert you to strangers passing by.
Their Love Language: The Companion dog’s favorite thing is a lap to sit on – which they can do for hours! – and a hand or two to pet them with.

Guard
Common Breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Mastiff, Rottweiler
How They Show Love: Breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, and Mastiff, are well known for their ability to be fearless and devoted companions showing their love through their loyalty. But, they can also be very playful, and Boxers, in particular, love to jump up to meet us at eye level. This group of breeds is also high on the dog “smile” meter which can’t be beat!
Their Love Language: The Guard dogs are often big softies with the humans in their pack. They tend to enjoy belly rubs and just hanging out. They will happily join you on the couch or sleep with you in bed if you allow it and if you both fit!

Herding
Common Breeds: Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog
How They Show Love: The Herding breeds like the Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, and German Shepherd, to name just a few in this rather large group, are highly intelligent dogs that are eager to learn and express their love through their hard work. You will make them happiest by giving them a job to do. They also want to keep the pack together and will herd just about anything that moves. Many of them can also be described as “velcro dogs” – they will stick with you wherever you go, waiting on your next command.
Their Love Language: The Herding dogs love for you to mentally and physically exercise them – they need a job in order to be happiest. Spending quality play time is also a great way to their hearts!

Sporting
Common Breeds: Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, German Shorthair Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Poodle
How They Show Love: The Sporting breeds like the Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, Golden Retriever, and Labrador Retriever, are another group of friendly, happy, and active dogs, often defined by their loyalty and eagerness to please. They show their love by helping their humans and some can even anticipate your needs! They were originally bred to be work closely with hunters making them an invaluable tool and companion. Their ability to read our moods shows their empathy and why they can make great therapy and guide dogs. They can lean into you or just put a nose or paw in your lap to let you know that they are there.
Their Love Language: To show your love and keep your Sporting dog happy, engage them in play – they often enjoy retrieving games, a good run, or even a swim! But, don’t forget that they appreciate cuddle time and belly rubs as well.

Terrier
Common Breeds: Chihuahua, Russell Terrier, Schnauzer, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier
How They Show Love: When they finally slow down, Terriers often just want to be with their people. The breeds in this group, like the Chihuahua, Russell Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier, are generally spirited and energetic but can also be stubborn and reserved with strangers. They love to play with you, toys, and squirrels, and they generally want to be in your space, if not on top of you!
Their Love Language: Giving your Terrier plenty of mental and physical exercise, as well as time with you will show them how much you care.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!

Close popup

Welcome to In Motion

Bring photos to life with Us Weekly's exciting new mobile experience!

What's In Motion? Tell me more

What's In Motion?

Go back

How to Use In Motion

What's In Motion? Tell me more