Puppy Love


Here’s my dog. Her name is Dot, she’s about seven years old in that picture, and I love her very much. Having been away from her during this semester, I grow more and more excited to see her again, and so I started to remember all of her little quirks. Dot eats when my family eats, and will whine if we don’t put food in her bowl even if she ate right before we did. When my mom goes to bed, and I stay up to finish up any class work, Dot will stay with mom until she falls asleep and come back to the room I’m working in. She’ll stay with me until I finish and sees me go to bed. She would normally sleep with my mother or father, but about a month before I went to college she would sleep with me as if she knew I was leaving soon. Despite all of this, I began to wonder: Does she actually love me? So today I want to explore: Do dogs love their owners?

According to this article, scientists say dogs view us as family, which would explain Dot eating when we eat and waiting until everyone is safe in bed until she sleeps. Dogs depend on us now more than their own species for affection and protection.

This article outlines a study which shows dogs recognize their owners. When dogs were presented with the scent their owner, a stranger, a dog they knew, a dog they never met, and their own scent, the only scent that activated the caudate nucleus was that of their owner. The caudate nucleus is the part of the brain that reacts to familiar stimulants. I deduce the reason why dogs were able to recognize their owners but not a dog they met before is most likely due to the fact that dogs are around their owners far more often than the neighbor’s dog or a dog they met at the park, and so the dog would react more strongly to their owners than that dog. Think of it like eating a food you grew up on and a food you had for the first time last week. Despite having ate both foods before, you would be able to recognize the food you ate throughout childhood due to repeated exposure.

So dogs rely on us and recognize our scent, but I feel like that may not be enough to prove they love us.

Dr. Paul Zak references a few studies that show dogs and their owners release oxytocin when interacting, which he also states a way to measure love in mammals is to measure the oxytocin released during different interactions.



This article outlines the functionality of ocytocin, and defines the hormone as a neurotransmitter often associated with love, and is released during physical activities such as hugging, cuddling, sex, and breastfeeding. The hormone allows us to trust others and form bonds, as well as relax and reduce anxiety.

So by this, we can deduce that we have a mutual relationship of trust and relaxation when cuddling with our puppies. That peaceful feeling I get when Dot gives me kisses and falls asleep with her chin resting on my knee as she waits for me to finish work, I can now confidently say Dot most likely feels the same way when I pet and hold her.

7 thoughts on “Puppy Love

  1. Kayla Neiland

    Dogs are always the hardest goodbye! My Dog Lola is my best friend and I believe the feeling is mutual. As soon as I came home my dog cried and would not leave my side. This made me wonder if maybe she thought I was dead. http://nextgendog.com/how-do-dogs-understand-absence-of-their-owners/ according to this article dogs have no time perception so they go into a grieving period that can last a few days to a few months thinking that you will never return but as soon as you are reunited the bond is still just as strong as it was before. Also, dogs can sense your family’s excitement upon your arrival so they feed off of their emotion and get just as excited.

  2. Jeremy Perdomo

    Dear Savannah,

    Without even needing to read the entire blog, I can tell you that I believe dogs definitely love their owners. Having just come back home for Thanksgiving break, both my dogs were so excited to see me that they peed, something that they haven’t done since they were little pups. Not only did that prove that they love me, but the affection that they showed me over the affection they showed the rest of my family definitely sealed the deal. They missed me so much that they forgot about the rest of the family altogether; if that is not love, I don’t know what is!

    Now, regarding the science you provided to support the mutual relationship between dogs and their owners, I found it interesting that scientists have yet to find concrete evidence to support the love dogs show their owners. This is a prime example of where anecdotal evidence, in my opinion, is enough to imply a deduction that something must be going on with dogs and their affection for humans. Millions of people can attest to the fact that dogs love them in more ways than one!

    Regarding your article itself, I loved how you had a plethora of links to help explain exactly what you were talking about in each section. It helped me understand it to a much greater degree. However, do animals other than dogs show love to their owners? Definitely! Here is an article that explicates some other animals that are affectionate, including a skunk! :


  3. Samantha Liebensohn

    My dog is literally my best friend so this blog post was really interesting to read. My parents actually treat my dog as if he is a child so in my family my dog is referred to as a human. This leads me to share similar feelings in which I wonder if my dog will miss me or if he loves me as much as I love him. This post was really interesting in the fact that it put science behind my personal beliefs which was really cool to discover. I’m sure everyone has seen this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG42z4WlkpA of the dog crying over it’s owners grave. This is just further proof how dogs have feelings too. Really interesting blog post, good job!

  4. Asaad Saleh Salim Al Busaidi

    I find your post interesting. I also liked the article about Oxycontin that you discussed in the post and found it interesting that interacting with one,s pets and cuddling with them can strengthen the bond between the owner and the pet. I have never had a dog because I consider myself to be bird-lover. I have been always wondering if birds such as parrots love their owners and as dogs do discriminate between their owner and unfamiliar people. So, I did some research about it and found that there were some studies published in Avian Biology Research that suggested that birds discriminate between their owners and unfamiliar people. The study did the experiment using pigeons to tell if they can discriminate between familiar humans and unfamiliar humans. The study found that they use facial features to recognize people who the pigeons are familiar with, which supports the theory that birds do recognize their owners.


  5. Margaret Marchok

    First of all, your dog is adorable! I also have a little puppy, so I feel you on how much you miss your dog when your are away. I also often find that my dog eats when my family and I eat. Well, by eating I mean she begs for food, but eats nonetheless. It totally would make sense that dogs eat with their family because they feel like they are a part of the family. I just wanted to offer my own thoughts on the situation. It could be possible that your dog eats when you eat as a way to keep herself entertained. My dog loves nothing more than attention or to be active, so maybe when you are eating and unable to play with your dog, she turns to eating. Also, I know my dog has a certain routine. She gets up at the same time, goes to bed at the same time, and does different things at the same time every day. Perhaps she is on a schedule and that is why she eats when she does. This is a great article on how dogs actually might be able to perceive time- http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/can-dogs-understand-time/. Enjoy!

  6. Daniele Patrice Loney

    I can totally relate to the feeling you have of missing your cute puppy! I have two labs and a cat at home. When I visited home a few weeks ago, I think my heart broke three separate times. I have always wondered how much animals actually “think” and “feel” since obviously, animals are not on the same level as humans when it comes to mental capabilities. The following link will take you to an article that explains that animals, although not in the same exact way, DO have feelings. I hope you’re able to relate this to Dot and the relationship you have with each other!

  7. Katherine Yuen

    As someone who is also counting down the days until I can see my dog again, your post really got me interested in the topic since everybody just assumes that their dogs just love them right back. I found this article about research that was done to find out if our pet dogs view us as masters or as parents. It basically talks about how some researchers did an experiment that ultimately found the very first real evidence that the way dogs see their owners is more similar to a child-parent relationship than as masters of the dogs, so that’s even more proof that Dot sees you as family!

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