1. Your dog cuddles up with you after eating. Dogs, like humans, love food. But unlike humans, dogs do not have a large prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is associated with both planning for the future and inhibiting impulses. It is no surprise, then, that dogs live in the present and love to eat. They don’t know when their next meal is coming. But once their bellies are full, what becomes their next priority? Do they go outside to relieve themselves? Or do they repose at your feet?
2. Where does your dog sleep? If you want to start a full-on religious war between dog-lovers, bring up the topic of sleeping with your dog. Everything from crates to separate rooms to under the covers and in the bed. The idea that dogs should never be allowed on the bed comes from old dominance theories which many of us ignore with no ill effects. Dogs are highly social, but they are also very flexible. They will prefer to be with the members of their social group, whether it is other dogs, cats, children, or adults. Where they prefer to sleep indicates who they consider their BFFs.
3. Your dog freaks out when you leave. Sorry to disappoint, but that is not a sign of love. Separation anxiety is very common and a leading cause of behavioral problems. And while your dog may be unconditionally bonded to you, well-adjusted dogs also know that you will return and do not display the frenetic activity of the anxious dog. Nobody really knows why some dogs develop separation anxiety. Our neuroimaging project is trying to figure out if it is the case of an overactive social-reward system – like ‘I really really love you, master’ – or whether the anxiety is driven by a hyperactive fear system.
4. Your dog freaks out when you come home. Now this is more like it. Who doesn’t love to be greeted by a dog who acts like you’ve been gone for a year? I know my dogs love me when I get home because they jump all over me even after they’ve been fed. But the true test is whether they do the same thing to anyone who walks in the house. Watch closely what your dog does when someone else comes in. If they do the same thing, I’m afraid your dog is just promiscuous.
5. Do you love your dog? A loving relationship is a two-way commitment. If you don’t love your dog, then how can he love you? He may be bonded to you for food, shelter, or fear. We wouldn’t call a human relationship based on any of those things love, and so it is the same with dogs.
CREDITS: HOW DOGS LOVE US? by GREGORY BERNS