DON’T HAVE THE WORDS TO DESCRIBE HOW YOU FEEL? THAT’S OK.

We could compose them poems or write them love songs, but at the end of the day, verbal communication just isn’t enough. Pets love listening to us talk, but for them actions speak way louder than words. And it doesn’t even have to be a huge grand gesture like throwing them a birthday party or buying them something expensive —in fact, what pets really notice are the little things we do in everyday life.

 

HOW TO SHOW YOUR PET YOU LOVE THEM

What you want to say:

YOU'RE MY FAVORITE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'D DO WITHOUT YOU.

How to say it:

Put your phone down and make nice, long eye contact with your pet, giving them your full focus. For dogs, a long gaze with their owners actually releases oxytocin, the happiness hormone that promotes bonding. You brain has the same reaction too, which is a nice bonus. As for cats, a long slow look with super slow blinks is actually the greatest sign of affection that they can give each other or humans.

What you want to say:

I MISS YOU SO MUCH WHEN I'M GONE.

How to say it:

When you get home from work, does your canine run up to you and joyfully go into a downward dog position? That’s what we call a “play bow”and responding to this invite is a big deal. Play is a dog’s #1 language of love — it helps with bonding and provides the physical and mental stimulation they crave, especially if you know their preferred play style. While you’re at it, an extra-long walk after work is always appreciated too. What about the kitties? For them dinner may be a way higher priority, but make sure to give them some quality time as well, whether that means a hang-out on the couch or a little interactive play.

What you want to say:

WE'RE A TEAM, I'VE GOT YOUR BACK.

How to say it:

Having a pack is important to dogs. When they lean into your side or against your leg, it’s their way of saying, “I’m with you.” Leaning in to snuggle them back lets them know you feel the exact same way. Another way to confirm your pack status? Taking a nice nap together after playtime (after all, it’s what puppies do). With cats, it’s a little different. They’re solitary creatures, but they do like to create a group scent with everyone in their household — kind of like exchanging friendship bracelets, but weirder. In fact, that's what they're doing when they butt their head and rub their body against you. By petting their head and encouraging this behavior, you show that you’re glad they picked you too.

What you want to say:

YOU'RE MY BABY, YES YOU ARE.

How to say it:

To really make your pet feel secure and loved, there’s nothing like imitating the maternal touches that puppies and kittens receive at birth. For dogs, that means nice, gentle belly rubs, ear scratches and massages. Just like the gazing mentioned above, petting releases oxytocin and increases your bond. For cats, gentle petting is great too, but concentrate on their head and neck. That’s where their mother would have licked them, and full body petting can really irritate many cats. And hey, don’t be ashamed of using baby talk — it turns out that both dogs and cats actually prefer it and pay more attention when we use it.

What you want to say:

I JUST WANT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. 

How to say it:

Know your pet’s dislikes and respect their boundaries. They hate dressing up in costumes? Don’t do it. They dislike crowds and loud noises? Avoid those situations. They don’t enjoy strangers? Don’t make them interact. This is all especially important for cats, who can be much more sensitive and attuned to changes in their environment. In fact, keeping your cat’s litterbox clean and giving them kitty furniture to explore and scratch is probably one of the best feline ways to say “I love you.”

LOOKING FOR MORE PET COMMUNICATION HELP?

We answered 7 questions pet owners wish they could ask their dogs.

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