The idea of the five love languages was popularized by author Gary Chapman in 1995. His best-selling book talks about how people tend to express and experience love in one or two dominant ways, and how acknowledging and responding to those tendencies in your mate will bring the two of you closer.
As it turns out, this can be true with our pets as well. In this season of hugs, hearts and happiness, it’s a good time to think through what your dog’s love language might be and how to best communicate your love in a way that he or she will understand best. This awareness will also be a benefit when it comes to finding out what motivates your dog in the training process.
1. Words of affirmation – Dogs who thrive on praise may be responding to your tone of voice as much as your actual words. Either way, praising your dog is quick, easy and free, so keep those “Good boy’s” coming!
2. Physical touch – A lot of dogs enjoy a belly rub or a good scratch. Even some time spent for a good brushing will be meaningful to some dogs. Bonus – you end up with both a calmer and cleaner dog!
3. Receiving gifts – Is your dog highly motivated by treats? Is a new toy the most exciting part of the week? Gift giving may be your dog’s preferred love language but watch out – if he thinks it’s yours too, you may receive some “loving” gifts on your back porch!
4. Quality time – The gift of your time and attention may mean the most of all to your dog. Whether you play fetch together, snuggle on the couch or spend time learning a new trick, your dog will feel cared for when you focus on your time together.
5. Acts of service – Actions speak louder than words for some of us, so feeding, grooming and going on long walks may be meaningful to dogs who are more action-oriented. This category tends to overlap with some of the others, but any effort to serve or involve your dog that’s motivated by love will be appreciated.
Your dog may have more than one love language or his preferences may change over time, but trying to figure it out is part of the fun. This Valentine’s Day, your dog will be happy to receive your love no matter what language you speak!