Five ways to show your dog you love them, according to an expert trainer

Man hugging his golden retriever outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to the ultimate animal companion to have by your side as you journey through life, dogs are pretty darn hard to beat! These friendly and loyal creatures bring so much love and joy to our days, and so it can be really nice for us to return the favor and show them some love in a way they can recognize.

While dishing them out a long lasting dog chew or buying them a cute new squeaky toy can be a great way to do this, expert trainer and behaviorist Louise Glazebrook has some other ideas that you may not have thought of — and she shared a few of her favorites in a recent Instagram post. 

1. Give them attention: Loving attention is so important for the mental and physical wellbeing of your dog, and there's so many wonderful ways that you can dish it up. Glazebrook says that how you choose to give your dog attention will vary depending on what your canine companion likes, but it could be touch, interaction, laying on you, or any form of contact that they enjoy. 

2. Respect their boundaries: Just like us humans, our dogs have boundaries too and Glazebrook says that respecting those looks like "being left alone and not interfered with when they don't want it." Knowing when your dog wants to engage and when they want time out on their own (and honoring this!) will go a long way in strengthening your relationship. 

3. Play with them: Knowing how to play with a dog is one of the most important skills you can learn as a pet parent. Not only is it brilliant for offering them the enrichment they need to thrive, it's wonderful for your relationship too. 

"Play takes many, many different forms and can involve training too if they love it," says Glazebrook. So when it comes to play time with your pup, of course it can include things like fetch and tug if they like those games, but don't rule out other forms of play too — like agility training, puzzle toys, and sniffing games (such as treat scatters).

4. Offer your dog breed-specific fulfilment: Glazebrook says that breed fulfilment means different things to different dogs and is seriously underrated, both as a way to show your pup you love them and to provide them with the kind of stimulation they need to thrive.

Terrier breeds, for example, will do really well with games like hide and seek, where you hide toys and treats in places where they need to dig and sniff in order to find them. Herding breeds do brilliantly with agility, working breeds may love wearing a weighted backpack and going on a hike, and hounds will adore getting to use their keen noses to do some scent work. 

5. A level of predictability: "Having a level of predicability can create a feeling of safety and security. That’s a huge component for all of us," says Glazebrook. Predictability may look like feeding and walking your dog at roughly the same times each day, creating designated times for rest, and being consistent in how you engage with your pup — for example, doing your best to be kind and using positive reinforcement. 

If you loved Glazebrook's tips above and would like some more inspiration, check out these 32 ways for improving your relationship with your dog — we're huge fans of number 21!

Frisco Bento Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy 
$18.65 at Chewy

Frisco Bento Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy
$18.65 at Chewy
Offering a moderate level of difficulty, this problem-solving game features sliding pieces and nooks where you can hide small treats or kibble. Suitable for all breeds, it's a great way to provide your pup with some mental stimulation. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.