Dog love language – what is your dog’s?

Do you know what dog love language your pet speaks?  If you do, it can help you to understand what is going to motivate them the most in your training, help you to understand how to best bring them joy and reward them for their unconditional love, and even identify if something is going on with your dog’s health.

Much like humans, our pets have specific and often quirky ways they like to show and receive love. So whether they associate with just one or all five dog love languages, recognising this can help to strengthen your bond and help motivate them in training.

The concept of the five love languages was first developed by American author and marriage counsellor, Gary Chapman to outline the different ways we give and receive love, these include words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts.

These can most certainly also be applied to our dogs, so shall we delve into what the dog love language looks like?

The five dog love language categories

Words of affirmation

Words of affirmation is about expressing affection through compliments or words of encouragement. Take notice of how your pet reacts when you offer them praise such as “good boy or girl” or call their name in a cheerful tone.  Pets that have words of affirmation as one of their love languages will look engaged and alert when you’re talking to them. Happy meows, purrs, barks, and wagging tails are common behaviours of pets who show and feel love through sounds and words.

Using works of praise is therefore a great way to reward and reinforce desired dog behaviour in your dog training.

Quality time

If you have a dog or cat that always wants to be near you and goes crazy when you leave and return to the house, quality time is one of their love languages. There are countless ways you can spend time with your pet from going on walks, playing with toys, hitting the dog park, to just simply sitting side by side on the couch together. Whatever form your quality time takes, be sure to give them your undivided attention.

Physical touch

For pets with physical touch as their love language, cuddling, petting, tummy scratching or grooming can make them feel all warm and fuzzy.
If your pet’s  language is physical touch, they will often want to be as close to you as possible by sitting on your chest or lap, offer their head or belly for pats, and shower you with kisses. It’s important to provide pets who frequently exhibit these behaviours with plenty of physical attention, as this is the main way they will feel loved by you.

Acts of service

When I think about this dog love language, I associate it with Guide Dogs and those many other amazing therapy and assistance dogs.  These pets gladly obey your commands speak this dog love language. These pets are intelligent, obedient, complete tasks quickly, and tend to show high levels of restraint and discipline, and because of these traits, they are often used for police work, therapy and other service related roles.

By understanding your dog’s love language, and indeed their other individual quirks and behaviours, it also means you can pick up when something isn’t quite right with them and take them to the Vet for a check up.

Receiving gifts

Let’s face it, our dogs just LOVE receiving gifts in the form of treats, toys, comfy beds and, if your dogs are like mine, they think pretty much anything that gets delivered in a box to the house is a gift for them!  So if your dog loves treats most of all, that is going to be your best way to motivate them in training.  If your dog isn’t food motivated, but loves nothing more than a squeaky toy or having the ball thown, then you can also use that to ‘reward’ and motivate your dog in training.

Or if you just want to spoil your dogs and show them how much you love them with a gift for whatever reason, there’s plenty of great products and even some Valentine’s Day gifts available from your local PETstock store.

[1] The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love Your Dog

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