Does Your Dog Really Trust You? Science Has the Answer

Signs dogs trust their owners

There’s nothing like the love people have for their dog—but does their floppy-eared best friend feel the same way? Experts say that some telling signs reveal how a dog really feels about its owner.

Dr. Adam Christman, the chief veterinary officer with the New Jersey-based veterinary magazine dvm360, gained attention earlier this year with a TikTok video in which he explained the five main signs that a dog trusts their owner. The video has received more than 14,800 likes.

In the video, Christman said the first sign a dog trusts its owner is when it shows it knows the daily routine. This includes the time of day an owner takes the dog out for a walk, when meals are delivered and when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep.

A dog owner holds her pet at an international dog exhibition on June 4 in Budapest, Hungary. Dogs have specific ways of showing that they trust their owners.

Other signs that dogs trust their owners include pilfering shoes or items of clothing, responding to the human’s body language, sleeping in the same room or bed as the owner and making eye contact.

“One of the ways dogs bond with you is through eye contact,” Christman said in the video. “It helps create trust.”

He previously told Newsweek that the simple act of making eye contact releases oxytocin in both humans and dogs. This naturally occurring hormone is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone.”

Touch is another way dogs demonstrate that they trust their owner, according to the South Pacific County Humane Society in Long Beach, Washington. This can include leaning into the owner’s body and cuddling close.

There are also easy-to-learn ways to tell if a dog is fearful or anxious. When a dog cowers or shakes, it can be a sign that it’s afraid of a human, another dog or something else they perceive as a potential threat.

More aggressive behavior, such as lunging or barking, also indicates a dog is scared, according to the Humane Society. When a dog displays this type of behavior, its hair and tail may be raised, and it may show its teeth.

These signs are relatively easy to pick up on, but there are also less obvious ways dogs demonstrate that they’re uncomfortable. Recurring licking without food nearby, panting, moving slowly and acting as if they’re on high alert are some signs that could indicate a dog is anxious, according to the Humane Society. Refusing food, pacing or keeping its distance are additional indications that the dog is nervous.

Newsweek reached out by email to the American Kennel Club for further comment.

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