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Do Dogs Understand ‘I Love You’?

Dogs are a man’s best friend, and of course, you want to tell them how much you love them. 

Can they understand it when you tell them, though?

While your dog cannot understand the phrase, “I love you,” they do understand your love for them through actions and your connection. 

Read on to find out how you can make sure your dog knows you love them and ways you can increase your connection to them. 

Can I teach my dogs to understand the words ‘I love you’?

While dogs may not initially understand the words ‘I love you’ as humans do, you can teach them to know what you mean when you tell them you love them. Dogs don’t speak English, so they don’t understand the words you are saying to them unless your words are paired with some feeling, touch, or action. There are many ways to show or tell your dog you love them in a way they will understand.

3 Ways to teach your dogs ‘I love you’

#1 Repetition

One way to teach dogs what the words ‘I love you’ mean is through repetition. Just as you train your dogs to sit or speak using repetition. With signals and cues, you can also teach them what ‘I love you’ means.

This isn’t the same as saying ‘I love you’ and the dog immediately knowing that you love them. However, by correlating the words to a loving sign or action, they will connect those words with love or attention.

#2 Commands

As mentioned above, dogs understand words as they are connected with commands or movements. Therefore, another way to teach your dog to say or understand ‘I love you’ is to associate it with a motion. 

For example, you may lead them to bark when you say ‘I love you’ or to shake as their way of responding to the words. This will then connect the words to some sort of motion that results in praise and love. 

#3 Speak

Finally, another way you can teach your dog ‘I love you’ is to teach them to mimic the words back to you. Have you ever seen one of those videos of dogs saying I love you back to their owners? 

Not only is it impressive, but it is super wholesome as well. With training and repetition, your dog can be saying ‘I love you’ back to you in no time. 

All in all, there are ways you can train your dog to say ‘I love you’ in their own way. Some methods, as discussed above, are by teaching them to speak, teaching them a command that goes with ‘I love you’, or repeating the words with positive reinforcement. 

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5 Ways to say ‘I love you’ to your dog in their language

While you can train your dogs to connect a motion or movement to the words ‘I love you’, it isn’t the same as showing them you love them in their own dog language. Dogs communicate differently than humans. And to show them you love them, you have to tell them in their dog language. 

There are many ways to tell your dog you love them in a way that they will understand, and here are five of the best ways to say ‘I love you’: 

#1 Rub their ears

A dog’s ears are a great place to rub because they are filled with nerve endings. When rubbed, these nerve endings will send endorphins through your dog’s body, making them feel happy and loved.

Just take two fingers and rub them on their ear, and you will see the happiness in their eyes. 

#2 Snuggling

Snuggling is different for every dog as some prefer to lay on your feet while others will be up in your face. Either way, taking time to snuggle and have a quiet moment with your dog will show them you love and appreciate being with them. It also creates a safe space for them. 

#3 Give them treats 

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like giving your dogs some yummy treats, especially if you give them by hand. Dogs see treats as a sign of positive reinforcement or a way of showing you care for them. When you give it to them by hand, they know you trust them.

#4 Positive reinforcement 

Another big indicator of love for dogs is positive reinforcement. Whenever your dog does something good, pat them on the head and tell them how good they are. 

#5 Human touch 

Aside from just rubbing their ears, having physical contact with them shows them love and affection, whether this means petting them or just having your hand on them. Some dogs even like to be carried. Having that human contact shows a connection.

There are ways you can communicate to your dog you love them in their language. This includes rubbing their ears, snuggling with them, giving them treats, providing positive reinforcement, or connecting with a human touch. These are ways that, aside from just saying the words, you can let your dog know that you love and appreciate them in a way that they understand.

How to tell whether your dog feels loved

Now that you know how to say ‘I love you’ in your dog’s language, you should also be aware of how to know when they are happy and feeling loved. Dogs have specific signs that tell you, their companion, they are feeling happy and loved.

You can sometimes question yourself as a dog owner about whether or not you are making your dog happy. Here are five ways to know that your dog feels comfortable and loved:

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Recognizing your name

When a dog knows or recognizes your name as easily as they recognize their own, it shows their connection to you. When dogs feel a connection to you, they will recognize your name when other people say it. For example, when someone asks, “Where’s _____?” to a dog and they know who that person is, the dog feels loved.

Bringing you items 

Dogs will show affection and love by bringing you toys or items, especially if they feel it needs to be fixed. While dogs cannot tell you they love you, they will bring you items they love personally to show you they trust and care about you.

Rubbing your face 

Dogs are instinctual, which means that if they do not trust or love you, they will not put their face next to yours. However, if you have built a level of trust with your dog where they feel calm enough to rub their face on yours, they definitely love you.

Looking into your eyes 

Dogs looking into your eyes 

Just as dogs won’t put their face on yours if they don’t trust you, they also won’t look into your eyes. If they feel loved and calm in the relationship, however, making eye contact with their companions is another way they communicate love.

Wagging their tails

The most obvious sign of happiness and love from a dog is when it wags its tail. Dogs wag their tails when they feel excited or happy, and if they wag their tail when they see you, they are delighted to see you.

To feel reassured your dog feels loved and they love you, there are signs your dog will show. These signs include recognizing your name, bringing you items, rubbing your face, looking into your eyes, and wagging their tail.

These are not only signs that your dog feels loved, but they also show you as the owner that they love you back.


Overall, while dogs cannot understand human language and know what the three words ‘I love you’ mean, there are ways to communicate to your dog you love them and ways to tell they love you too. 

Dogs are the best companion a human can have, and because of that, we want to show them how much they truly mean to us. This can be hard when we do not speak the same language, but by learning to communicate differently, your dog will feel all the love you are trying to give.

All in all, dogs may not be able to speak English or know what human words mean, but they do understand the feeling of love. Love is the strongest of bonds, and when you form that with your dog, they will be happy and have the best of dog lives with you as their companion. Try to tell your dog that you love them in a new way today and see their reaction.