We always knew that our dogs love us, but now we’ve got the science to back it up. A new study done by Canine Cottages shows our dog’s heart rate actually increases when we tell them we love them.
“I Love You” Causes Dog’s Heart Rate to Increase
Every dog owner can tell you their dog’s physical reaction when they tell them that they love them. Until now, however, it was unclear as to whether or not our furry friends actually understood the phrase. (1)
Canine Cottages in the UK performed a study where they hooked up dogs to little heart monitors to track their responses to various things. On average, a dog’s heart rate increased by 46.2% when their owners said “I love you”. (1) This means that their average heart rate went from 67 beats per minute (bpm) to 98 bpm. (2)
On the flip side, they found that a good snuggle session with their owners had a calming effect on the dogs. In this case, a dog’s heart rate dropped from 67 bpm to 52 bpm – a decrease of 22.7%. (1, 2)
They decided to also track the pet owners’ heart rates to compare their responses to their devoted dogs. They found that on average, humans’ heart rates increased by 10.4% upon even just seeing their dogs. Clearly, the feeling is mutual. (1)
Ways Dogs Show Affection
Though dogs can’t talk, they still have a variety of other ways to show us how much they care about us. The study included information on 10 main ways that our four-legged friends show affection towards us. (1)
- Licks and Kisses:
Big or small, this is a sign that they care about and love you.
Even if they just curl up next to you or at your feet, they are showing their desire to be around you.
Jumping, tail wagging, and wiggling when you walk in the door are all signs of how happy they are to see you.
When your pooch is pawing at your leg, barking lightly at you, or putting their head on your lap or somewhere near you, it’s because they want affection from their favorite person – you!
They may bring you things like their favorite toy or something they found outside. Dogs only share their things with those they love and trust.
- Belly up:
Lying with their belly up is a vulnerable position to be in. When your dog does this it’s because they trust and love you enough to know that you’re going to rub their belly and nothing more.
Dogs’ instinct is to protect those they love and who they consider are a member of their “pack”. These protective instincts, such as barking at the stranger on the porch, is them showing their love and desire to keep you safe.
- Jumping up:
Though it is a good idea to train your dog not to do this, especially if they are a big dog, this is a sign of affection. They jump up because they love you and want to say hello.
- Chewing your things:
Yes, this is a frustrating habit. That being said, often when your pup chews your things when you are not home, it is because they are anxious. Chewing relieves that anxiety, especially when it is something that smells like their favorite person.
- Coming to you when they’re in pain:
When your dog comes to you when they are in pain (or scared and anxious) it’s because they trust you. They understand that you will take care of them, and they love you for that.
A Note on the Study
While the findings here are certainly interesting, it should be noted that this study was rather small, not published in a scientific journal, and it was not peer-reviewed. With that said, it’s comforting to know that they seem to love us back (but we knew that), just as much as we love them! It’s no wonder the science tells us they’re great for our health.
Why Pets are Good for Our Health
Having a pet is good for our mental, physical, and emotional health. Pets provide opportunities for us to get outside, get some exercise, and be social with others. (3) This has a number of positive effects on both our bodies and our minds, including (3):
- Decreased blood pressure
- Reduce cholesterol
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Decreased feelings of loneliness
- Lower stress
Having a pet, especially ones that require regular exercise outdoors, increase our own opportunities to get outside and move. Having a pet can also lead to more social interactions with other people. Your pet is like the ultimate social navigator – they greet another person, who then in turn greets you. (3)
The Bottom Line
Regardless of a dog’s heart rate, we know they love us, and we love them right back. Having a pet, be it a dog or another animal can be immensely rewarding. Before you get yourself one, however, be sure to do your research. It is important that you understand the time and financial commitments that having a pet requires. It is also necessary you choose a pet that fits your lifestyle and capabilities.
So whether you have a dog already, are in the process of getting one, or are hoping to have one in the future, know this: They will love you unconditionally with their whole heart.
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