In his 1995 book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” Gary Chapman decodes the way people express love, and theorizes that we tend to give love in the way we like to receive it. He describes five “love languages,” and believes most of us express and experience love in both a primary and a secondary way. Our communication is most successful when we know and acknowledge our partner’s love language.
But, this theory doesn’t just work for romantic relationships. You can apply the same principles to your relationship with your dog! In honor of National Pet Day on April 11, here’s how you can pamper your pup based on the five love languages.
1. Words of affirmation — For people who speak this love language, hearing “I love you” or receiving compliments is extremely meaningful. Negative comments hurt them deeply. In this language, words have real value.
For your dog: Does your dog wag his tail happily when you say “Good boy!” or “Who’s a smart boy?” in an excited or tender tone of voice? Most experts agree that dogs, while they don’t understand words, are sensitive to tone. A recent study shows that our canine companions have some idea of what specific words convey. If speaking sweet nothings to your pet and verbal affirmation light up his world, this may be his love language.
2. Quality time — Time spent together without distractions, even something as simple as taking a walk, is an expression of love. If your mate speaks this language, doing things together and being there for him shows that you love him.
For your dog: Does your dog do his happy dance when you reach for the leash? Is he thrilled to play endless games of fetch with you? In this case, playtime and quality time will make your dog feel pampered and cared for. Even time spent training is an act of love: you and your dog will communicate and strengthen your bond.
3. Receiving gifts — We all like presents, but, receiving a tangible gift shows that your mate is thinking about you. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or elaborate gift; something thoughtful, no matter how small, makes you feel appreciated and loved.
For your dog: Is your dog highly motivated by treats? Is getting a new toy the high point of his week? Although most dogs love receiving treats, some like it more than others. If yours is one, National Pet Day is the perfect time for a special treat or brand new toy.
4. Acts of service — No, you don’t have to run out and join the Peace Corps. This language means that actions speak louder than words. It can be as simple as knowing your mate will be working late and preparing him a tasty dinner. For these people, doing the dishes, picking up the dry cleaning, or mowing the lawn is seen as an expression of love.
For your dog: You feed your dog, bathe him, groom him, and take him for walks. These are all acts of service that show your dog you’re a trustworthy caretaker.
5. Physical touch — For some people, touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Research shows that babies who are held and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who were deprived of physical touch. A hug when you come home, a kiss goodnight, even a simple touch of the hand as you walk through the room can express your love for a mate.
For your dog: Most dogs love a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. In fact, an ear rub does more than just feel good; it actually releases endorphins in dogs, giving them a blissful “high.” If your dog is always nudging your hand with his head, rolling over for a rub, or nestling up close to you, touch may be his favorite expression of love. Even a good brushing may be heavenly for some pups.
Just like humans, each dog is different when it comes to what love represents to him. If you need help figuring out what your dog’s love language is, take our handy quiz!