A Dog's Heart Rate Increases by 46% When Owner Says 'I Love You,' New Study Shows

The study also lays out five simple ways that dogs express their affection towards their owners

happy dog
Photo: Getty

Ever wonder how much your dog really loves you?

In a new study conducted by Canine Cottages, four different pups were fitted with special heart rate tracking collars to show what gets them excited when interacting with their owners.

Combining the heart rate tracking data from the four dogs over seven days, their average heart rate was 67 bpm. But when the canines were told "I love you" by their owners, their heart rates skyrocketed 46% to 98 bpm.

The research also showed one thing that calms a dog's heart rate: cuddling.

According to the study, the dogs' heart rates decreased by 23% on average from 67 bpm to 52 bpm while they were being cuddled by their owners.

Canine Cottages also tracked the owners’ heart rates to compare how much they love their pets. The results showed that their heart rates increased by 10% on average when they saw their dog after being away from them for a period of time.

stock photo of a corgi
Stock photo of a corgi. Getty

How exactly do dogs show their affection for their owners? Five simple ways were discovered by veterinarian Dr. Heather Venkat, a head veterinary nurse with Only Pets Cover, and accredited dog trainer Joe Nutkins.

  • First, a dog curling up next to its owner, on their lap or at their feet, is a clear and evident sign of love, because pups only lean on people whom they feel comfortable with.
  • When dogs are greeted, they'll likely wag their tail back and forth, jump, and wiggle back to those that they love.
  • They can also express affection by bringing a toy, signaling that they trust the person enough to play with them.
  • If a dog shows their belly, or sleeps on their back with their chest up, it's a sign of trust and love. These pooches trust the humans around them enough to put themselves in a vulnerable position.
  • Finally, dogs can also show love when they're in pain by coming to some they trust and holding a paw up or lying next to someone with their head in their lap.

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."

"It’s amazing to see that our dogs' heart rates increase when they are told they are loved, showing excitement, and decreases when having cuddles, showing contentedness," she said. "It’s also interesting to see all the weird and wonderful ways our pets show their love for us. From this data, we can now officially say that our dogs really do love us!"

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