Many dog owners frequently tell their pet that they love them, and science shows that they aren’t crazy for doing so. In fact, a dog’s heart rate jumps when you say ‘I love you’ to them. Even if your dog can’t use words, they’ll respond lovingly, showing that they do understand.
It is no longer a guessing game as to what happens to a dog when they are shown loving attention. A behavioral expert on dogs concluded that a dog’s heart rate increased by 46.2% when they heard the words ‘I love you’. Similarly, dogs experience the same effect in reaction to most other kinds of love, as well.
What love means to a dog is still up in the air, however. There is no way of knowing if a dog’s version of love is the same as ours, but it is pure bliss either way. It is still a nice feeling knowing that you are the reason for your pet’s excitement and happiness.
Dogs have a wide range of emotions, and there is finally scientific evidence to back up some of the theories. Knowing that dogs’ heart rate jump when hearing ‘I love you’ is one step in the right direction. To better understand and learn some signs that your dog’s heart rate has increased, it’s important to know what the researchers determined.
Researchers Explain How and Why Dogs Heart Rate Jump
In a study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers focused on dogs’ emotional state and how it affects heart rate. The researchers determined that a dog’s heart rate would increase during moments of excitement. This included when they saw their owners and when their owners gave love to their pets.
Using heart rate variability (also known as HRV), researchers compared dogs when they weren’t being social and when they were. Through their research, they determined that this is a valuable way to determine the emotional response of a pet dog. When the heart rate increased, the dog was feeling excited, which is what occurs when a dog is given love.
While that study confirms the emotional response of dogs, another study further explains why this occurs. When a dog is shown love, such as being told “I love you” by their owner, it causes an increase in oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is known to make people and animals feel happier and experience a sense of well-being.
Oxytocin is released when there is a feeling of love, comfort, or socialization. When a dog feels loved, it will have a higher level of oxytocin present, resulting in wanting to spend even more time near you. Continuing the cycle, they’ll become excited anytime you love on them and give them special attention.
The Thing That Doesn’t Make Their Heart Rates Jump
Now that you know why and how their heart rates jump when you say “I love you”, you may be wondering what has the opposite effect. Instead of making a dog excited like saying “I love you” does, cuddling can help lower the heart rate. It helps calm the pet and lowers its pulse, allowing both of you to bask in the comforting cuddles.
How You Can Tell When Your Dog Is Excited and Feeling Love
Contrary to popular belief, wagging their tail isn’t the only way a dog will show that they are excited. Many signs indicate your dog has an increased heart rate resulting from excitement and love. Some of them are extremely surprising, while others you may already know.
1 – They Chew Your Stuff
While you may think your pet is being naughty when they chew your slippers or tennis shoes, this isn’t the case. They aren’t trying to be bad, instead, they are just trying to show how much they love you.
Since your scent is on your item, a dog will feel closer to you if they are near it or on it. Then, to release endorphin and relax, dogs will chew on things. Before you realize it, they’ll be chewing on your slipper trying to relax while picking up your scent.
Keep in mind that this is only the case if your dog is chewing things while you are away from the home. This means that they are missing you. If they are doing it while you are home, however, it could be a sign that they desire more attention.
2 – They Come to You When They are Hurt
When a pet comes to you when they are hurt, it’s a sign of affection and comfort. You may notice they hold their paw out to you when they have hurt it. Or, you may experience a dog laying its head on your lap when they aren’t feeling great.
If a dog wasn’t excited or feeling a sense of love from you, they wouldn’t behave in this way. They would go somewhere alone when they are in pain. So, if your dog comes to you during moments of distress, you should be flattered.
This is a sure sign that a dog is excited to see you. They love to kiss and lick their owner, and this is one of the best ways they can.
If you wonder how much you are missed, just think about how many kisses you get from your pet when you return. There will be no doubt in your mind that you are their person if you get endless licks and kisses.
4 – They Greet Your Excitedly
Here is where the tail wagging comes into play. When a dog is excited to be near you, they will immediately begin wagging their tail. Plus, they’ll jump around and wiggle all over the place to show their delight.
5 – They Beg
Believe it or not, dogs don’t beg just to be pests. If your pet is begging by pawing at you and giving little barks while you’re holding something, it’s a sign of love. Give them some attention and affection and you may be able to ease some of the begging behaviors.
6 – They Bring You Things
If your dog randomly brings you their toy or a treasure from outside, it’s a gift. Dogs won’t share with those they don’t love and trust, so if your pet does this, it’s a good sign.
7 – They Lie with Their Belly Up
There is no position more vulnerable for dogs than lying with their belly facing up. If your dog will do this with you around, they truly trust you. They know that if you touch their belly, it’ll be for love and not to do them harm.
8 – They are Loyal
Dogs are known to be loyal, so it’s no surprise that when they are loyal, they are feeling love. This is shown in a few ways, including barking at strangers near your home or on your porch. They want to protect you and keep you safe, and this is the way that they know how to do so.
Do Human Hearts React the Same Way to Dogs?
You’re likely wondering if this works both ways. Since dogs are known to cheer their owners up, it’s a good indicator that human heart rates jump when in the presence of their pets. The same studies mentioned before show that a human heart rate increases by around 10% when they see their dog.
Humans must truly treasure their pets because their love goes beyond that 10% heart rate increase. Many people have even said they cancel plans with other people to spend time with their dogs. Now if that is not love, I don’t know what is.
Benefits of Having a Pet
Now that you know the effects dogs have on you, you can enjoy the thought that pets are good for you. It goes beyond an increase in heart rate for you, however, and a desire to spend time with your pet. Pet owners also experience the following benefits:
- a decrease in blood pressure
- lowered cholesterol levels
- decreased triglyceride levels
- fewer feelings of loneliness
- more exercise and outdoor activity
- increased socialization
- offers social support to kids
- improved behavior for children who own a dog
- a greater sense of empathy
- decreased anxiety and stress levels
While you already know that your dog loves you, it is nice to have that thought backed by science. With science proving that dogs’ heart rate jumps, it’s all the more reason to tell them more often. Plus, it will be beneficial to you, as well.
Remember all of the signs that your dog is excited, feeling love, or missing you. When they do things that seem naughty at first, it may just be their way of easing those intense feelings. Oftentimes, these types of behaviors are signs of love from a dog.
Dogs will love you unconditionally and be undeniably loyal to their owner. Remember the effect that showing them love has and continue to let them know they are loved and cared for. The next time someone tells you that you’re crazy for talking to dogs, share these facts and studies with them.