Are you one of those fur parents who cannot stop saying “I love you” to your pets? Well you are literally making their hearts jump, according to a recent study.
We know that dogs respond to affection, but a study by Canine Cottages on canine bodily reactions showed that when dogs heard those three affectionate words, their heart rates increased an average of 46.2%
The study confirms what pet lovers have always suspected, that dogs understand and physically react to terms of endearment from their owners. A strong emotional bond often grows over time between pets and humans. In the research conducted by Canine Cottages, four different pups were fitted with special heart rate tracking collars. The monitors aimed to track the emotional response of the dogs during interactions with their owners.
Over seven days, the average heart rate of the dogs was found to be 67 beats per minute after combining the heart rate tracking data from the four dogs. However, their rates rocketed up to 98 beats per minute when their owners said “I love you.”
While saying the specific phrase “I love you” elicited excitement and elevated the dogs’ heart rates, cuddling, on the other hand, had a more calming effect. The dogs’ resting heart rates were found to decrease by 22.7% after snuggling with their humans. Warm hugs were shown to slow down heart rates from 67 beats to 52 beats per minute.
The study also determined that humans are affected as well. When people see their dogs, the study found that their heart rates jumped similarly, by about 10.4%. The shared emotional reaction attest to the love that most humans have for their dogs.
Shannon Keary, campaigns manager at Canine Cottages, said: “In the UK we are a nation of dog lovers, but although we know how much we love our pets, we’ve never really known if, or how, our dogs show their affection for us, which is why we conducted this research.”
While dogs get all excited when they hear the word “love,” the expression of the emotion certainly differs across species. Typically, dogs lick faces, wag their tails, and jump on their owners enthusiastically to show their love and devotion. In turn, humans give hugs, belly rubs, head scratches, and shower their pets with toys and treats.
There are other specific ways that pets show their love for their owners. They like to curl up next to them, whether on their feet on their lap. Dogs only do this with people they are comfortable with. Bringing toys to their humans is another way of showing their devotion, as this shows that they trust their owners enough to play with them.
Exposing their belly as well as sleeping on their back and showing their chest also shows love, since this puts the dog in a vulnerable position and shows how much trust there is between the pet and their human. Even in pain, pets can express their feelings for their owners – they will go to someone they trust and hold up their paw or lie next to someone and place their head in their lap.
However, some expressions of affection are cause for exasperation. For instance, the study indicates that there is no malice involved when dogs chew or destroy their humans’ things. While the behavior can be extremely frustrating, apparently it stems from the need for the pets to calm themselves.
Gnawing on an object with their human’s scent is actually relaxing and soothing for the pet. It may be annoying, but the incessant chewing behavior really shows a pet’s love for their human.
The study attests to the strong emotional bond that develops between pets and their owners. As Keary said, “It’s amazing to see that our dogs’ heart rates increase when they are told they are loved, showing excitement, and decreases when having cuddles, showing contentedness. It’s also interesting to see all the weird and wonderful ways our pets show their love for us. From this data, we can now officially say that our dogs really do love us!”