Loyal, daft, and essentially functioning as giant, furry babies, dogs truly have earned their position as man’s best friend (sorry, cats). They offer us boundless love accompanied by slobbery kisses, they comfort us when we feel down or lost, and they help to remind us of the important things in life. In short, dogs are always trying to show their humans just how much they care – from laying on your icy feet on draughty evenings to leaping around excitedly whenever you enter the house.

Obviously, the vast majority of dog owners adore their furry friends, seeing them as a vital member of the family. But how exactly can we let our dogs know that we love them when their understanding of language is limited? The last thing any dog-parent wants is for their pup to feel unloved!

Below, we have collected a variety of non-verbal ways you can show your pooch your love and appreciation to help strengthen the bond between you.

Maintain their Health and Well-Being

Just like humans, dogs are unfortunately prone to the effects of ageing and other, breed-specific conditions that can affect their quality of life. Sure, whilst they are pups, we are constantly awed by their boundless energy and cheeky frolicking but, as they grow older, no dog is immune to the general wear and tear that accompanies ageing.

This is why it is essential to constantly monitor your dog’s physical health, which includes looking for any subtle signs of pain and discomfort, as well as noting any behaviour or sleeping pattern changes that may indicate something is awry. Check and brush their teeth regularly if possible, to prevent illnesses caused by poor dental health and hygiene (if not, provide dental chews); schedule regular vet check-ups; incorporate supplements into your dog’s daily routine to improve their health; brush their coats often, particularly if they are a long-haired breed; and monitor their food and water intake.

As dogs age, one of the main issues they experience is sore, stiff joints, which can make moving both painful and difficult due to the loss of synovial fluid and cartilage over time. To counteract the pain and stiffness associated with this, YuMove have developed special joint chews for dogs that aid joint flexibility and mobility, helping them to maintain an active lifestyle for longer. Tasty treats that help your dog’s mobility and, as a result, quality of life? A fantastic way to show them your love!

Provide a Varied, High-Quality Diet

Humans often associate food with love, and are prone to believing that the best way to demonstrate the depths of their love is through food treats. But, if you aren’t careful, your tasty treats may actually cause your beloved pooch numerous health issues, including obesity (which can lead to joint pain, diabetes, and breathing difficulties). That one biscuit sneaked under the guise of the table? The plate of leftovers scraped into their bowl? Although seemingly harmless individually, they eventually add up. The best way to show your pup that you love them is to stick to a carefully designed canine diet that includes all the vitamins and minerals they need, and developed with dogs in mind. The higher their quality of food, the better their physical health!

These days, there are many wonderful companies formulating tasty dog food that has a high meat content and is packed with everything they need to thrive. It’s essential to test out a range of high-quality dry and wet foods with your dog to identify their preference and ensure it is compatible with their needs, but you also should take a close look at the food content. Unspecified meat and ‘meat derivatives’ that form under 30% of the product indicates low quality food; as these foods tend to be insufficient for your dog’s nutritional needs, you will find your pet displays excessive hunger and will want to eat more as result! This could then lead to obesity and poor nutrition.   

Set Clear Boundaries and Be Consistent

Just like children, dogs appreciate clearly-defined, firm boundaries that are consistently reinforced – it’s part of their wild, instinctive ‘pack behaviour’, which requires a specified hierarchy.

This means that you, as their owner, should be the ‘pack leader’, so to speak, and establish rules. Instructions and commands should be delivered in a low but firm voice that exudes calm – again, as with children, higher-pitched voices are less effective – eye-contact should be maintained until your dog looks away and shows deference, and you should try to maintain an elevated physical position when delivering commands. But, most importantly, whatever rules you set for your furry friend, it is vital that you reaffirm these regularly, as dogs lack the capacity to understand ‘special occasions’ or reasoning, and will simply be confused by the change. 

Of course, physical affection in the form of cuddles and kisses are perfectly acceptable (and even enjoyable) to many dogs, so you can still demonstrate your love in this way, as well as those listed above.

Just make sure that you also take them for regular walks and offer stimulation to keep them entertained, too, or they might never forgive you!