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Can dogs fall in love?

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Can dogs fall in love like humans do?

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Can dogs fall in love like us humans? This is a more complicated question than you might think!

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

It is tempting to think of a dog as being in love when it approaches an animal of the opposite sex a little too insistently. In reality, one cannot necessarily speak of a "dog in love", as this is a feeling that is a little too human to be attributed to dogs. However, it is interesting to learn about the feelings a dog can have.

In the case of wolves, only the alpha male can fall "in love" to the point of leaving his pack to follow his female, whereas the opposite never happens: this phenomenon contributes to the survival of the species, because a rejected male is a weak male who would no longer be able to guarantee healthy and robust offsprings.

However, dogs living in human society are not always driven by utilitarian motives; and canine feelings, on the one hand are less conditioned by instinct compared to those of the wolf, and are also influenced by man as far as the relationship between two people is concerned.

Can two dogs fall in love?

Talking about a dog falling in love is anthropomorphism. It is true that it is tempting to attribute human feelings to a dog, especially when it appears to be in love, or sad to be separated from a female. But it is clear that a dog's behaviour differs from that of a human.

For humans, love is made up of memories, moments in the present and projections into the future. Other emotions fuel it. However, it seems obvious that none of these aspects are present in the dog. It is really a question of affection, bonding, or simply the instinct to reproduce. Although specialists have observed males being able to follow a female closely, this is far from common.

The dog has a different emotional intensity than we do. This is demonstrated by the fact that they are happy when they see you again after you have been away for only 10 minutes. Dogs do not have the level of awareness that we have, however intelligent they may be, and do not rationalise their emotions. They experience emotions as a two year old child does. But while humans continue to develop, in dogs this stops.

The proximity of a male to a female in heat can trigger a strong reaction: barking, whining, crying, insistent behaviour to get closer to the female. This is the "attraction" phase that we have described for humans, during which testosterone is secreted and increases the desire to mate. Moreover, a bitch in heat will naturally seek contact with one or more males in order to be impregnated: it is clear that these are not feelings of love. And for those who still have doubts, you should know that this type of behaviour will no longer occur as soon as the animal is sterilised.

Now, with that being said, two dogs can form a lifelong relationship, literally living under the same roof, sharing every moment of the day, which never happens in a wolf pack. This way of life, which is very different from the natural one, means that certain feelings are particularly strong in dogs and even allows the existence of faithful canine couples, united by a feeling that is much stronger than the simple sexual impulse.

How do you know if your dog is in love?

It is important not to mix up feelings with reproduction. If your dog seems unhappy or expresses a strong desire to see an individual of the opposite sex, it is simply because he is following his natural reproductive instinct. What may sometimes seem like love is in fact the reproductive cycle:

  • For a male: contact with a female in heat can trigger a strong reaction. The dog will bark, whine and do everything to be in contact with the female. This is simply his instinct to reproduce.
  • For a female: periods of heat will necessarily condition the behaviour. The female will seek contact with one or more males in order to be impregnated.

Two dogs are therefore not unhappy about being separated, but simply about not being able to reproduce. This may explain the barking, whining and crying of a dog that seems to be in love.

Nevertheless, as we mentioned above, it can happen that two dogs are particularly attached to each other. Dogs can thus be influenced by humans in their relationships. This is a common attitude in a family with two pet dogs. The close proximity between the two animals has created a relationship that does not exist in nature, and has led to a deep attachment between them.

Once again, to speak of friendship or love is a misuse of language, since it is not proven that dogs can feel these feelings. On the other hand, the attachment between two animals can be obvious, proving that strong relationships can exist in dogs.

Can dogs get crushes?

When we see our dog being affectionate towards another dog, animal or even human, don’t we all say “Oh my dog has a crush!”. Although we wish it was true because this would be so adorable, it is difficult to talk about "feelings" in a dog. But we can talk about emotions.

Specialists in canine physiology consider that dogs are capable of expressing multiple emotions: joy, sadness, excitement, stress, fear, etc.

As a general rule, an owner is quite capable of detecting emotions in his dog, especially through his body language: tail wagging, head down, shifty eyes, etc. These expressions of intense emotion (e.g. when the dog is super excited as soon as its owner returns) easily explain why it is tempting to attribute feelings to a dog.

Keep in mind: it is important to beware of anthropomorphism when training a dog. Treating a dog as another human being or as a child often leads to serious behavioural problems once the animal has reached adulthood.

Can dogs be our soulmates?

Yes… A big fat yes!! Dogs are man’s best friend, but we believe that they are more than that, they are our soulmates. Dogs are noble and faithful animals that admire, love and protect those who feel the same way about them, because it is an animal that has a very big heart.

We don't know to what extent a dog can fall in love with someone or how intense his feelings are. You will have to find this out with your dog, your best friend, as long as his love does not become a problem as it is the case with jealousy.

We recommend that you offer all your love and affection to your pet as soon as you can, for the rest of your life. Your dog will repay you every minute he spends with you. Dogs are truly the best and even though they don’t fall in love, we do and we love all dogs!

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