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Study shows dogs’ heart rates increase by 46% when we tell them we love them

A woolly dog sits on a large cottage deck dog-happy
© caninecottages - Instagram

Using a unique tracker, Canine Cottages – specialist provider of pet-friendly holiday lets – discovered just how much joy dogs find in the arms of their owner.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 11/09/2020, 21:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:25

Last month, four dogs with heart-tracking monitors were observed over the course of seven days of cuddles and interaction with their owners.

The tracking data, courtesy of Petpace, showed how the dogs physically responded to cuddles and to hearing their owners tell them they loved them.

Heartrate give away

Across the board, the dogs’ heartrates increased by 46% on average when love was expressed in words, suggesting that the animals were pleased and excited by their owners’ verbal affection.

When cuddled up to their owners the dogs’ heartrates decreased by 23%, suggesting relaxation and contentment.


A post shared by Canine Cottages (@caninecottages) on

Commenting on the research, Shannon Keary, Campaigns Manager at Canine Cottages, said: “In the UK we are a nation of dog lovers, but although we know how much we love our pets, we’ve never really known if, or how, our dogs show their affection for us, which is why we conducted this research."

Displays of affection

Of their show of affection towards us, dogs make no bones. After research by Only Pets Corner, Canine Cottages lists the following as true signs of canine affection:

  • Dogs will come in for cuddles with the person they feel most affection for 
  • Dogs will wag their tail from side to side and wiggle if they are pleased to see us
  • Dogs will bring a toy to a true mate 
  • Dogs will lie on their back when comfortable in our presence 
  • Dogs will approach their favourite human when they feel unwell or are in pain 
Does your dog like kisses? Find out why dogs are so lick-happy in the morning!

See also: New study says dogs are hardwired to love and care for humans