They’re man’s best friend, but do they know it? As you gaze into your dog’s eyes or snuggle up on the sofa, you’re not alone in wondering if they realise how much they’re loved.

The good news is that dogs have an unparalleled ability to form strong emotional bonds with humans, and they almost certainly know how much you care – but if you want to learn more about how to show your dog you love them, read on.

Take some time – Quality time is the number one way to bond with your dog. Playtime in the garden? Perfect. Cuddles on the couch? Even better.

Your furry friend will appreciate every minute you can spare for them, so make sure to carve a little time out of each day.

Top tip: Kisses and hugs can make many dogs a little distressed. Pay attention to your dog’s subtle body language when you pet them – ear scratches are usually a winner!

Protect their peace – Dogs can’t talk, but you can. Speaking up for your dog is an important way of showing your love, whether that’s asking others to respect your dog’s personal space or making sure they can rest peacefully when friends and family are around.

Not sure what your dog is trying to tell you? Pay attention to their body language, as behaviours like ‘whale eye’, lip licking and yawning can be subtle indicators of stress. By keeping a close eye you’ll soon be able to identify sources of stress and work to avoid them.

Your dog may not be able to thank you, but they’ll certainly appreciate it.

Plan a playdate (they’re not just for puppies!) – Want to be your dog’s favourite person? Taking them on a playdate is one way to build your bond by adding some excitement to their day.

Making sure your dog gets along well with their playmate is vital, and this can take some planning. If your dog is more of a people person, your playdate doesn’t have to include another pup – or if they’re happier playing with just you, that’s fine too.

Take on tasks together – Errands may not be exciting, but for your dog, getting involved in your life can be. Extra time with your dog can be rewarding for you both, even if you’re simply working your way through your to-do list. Just make sure to plan your trips and keep an eye out for signs of stress, as not all dogs will be happy with car journeys or crowded places.

In the warmer months, it’s best to skip any stops that might require your dog to stay in the car. Even a short time in the car can be risky if it’s warm.

Keep them in the loop – If you’re still wondering how to tell your dog you love them, why not try saying it? While many dog owners talk to their dogs occasionally, speaking to them as you go about your day can help them to feel involved – and they may even pick up a word or two, with a recent study reporting that the average dog understands 89 words.

Teach them a trick (or two) – Contrary to the popular phrase, you can teach an old dog new tricks. In fact, teaching your dog some new tricks and commands can prevent boredom, keep them mentally stimulated, help to prepare them for new situations and enhance your bond.

Whether you’re keen to start with some useful training tips or our pick of the nine best basic dog tricks, there’s always more for your dog to learn. Training should always be based on positive reinforcement, making it a wonderful way to bond with your dog.

The best part is that you only need two things to start: a few minutes a day and a handful of tasty treats…

Treat them well – The way to your dog’s heart may well be through their belly, but limitless treats can cause more harm than good. Picking tasty, low-fat treats to feed in moderation is the way to go.

Our Tiny Friends Farm Dolly Dog and Danny Dog range of baked treats are low in fat with natural ingredients and no artificial colours or flavours; whether your dog prefers chewy Doggy Donuts with chicken or Crunchy Cookies with peanut butter, there’s something for even the fussiest eaters.

From training treats to a night time nibble, your dog will know they’re loved when you give them the perfect snack.

Check out our full range of dog treats

How to show your puppy you love them

You now know how to show your dog you love them, but should you be doing anything differently to bond with your puppy?

While many of the tips above are true no matter your dog’s age, we’ve put together a few helpful hints for how to show your puppy you love them.

Time alone too – while spending time with your pup is a great way to show them some love, it’s important to get puppies used to spending some time alone to prevent separation anxiety in the future.

Keep calm and carry on – no matter how frustrating a broken vase, chewed shoe or unexpected puddle on the floor can be, it’s never worth punishing your pup. Positive reinforcement is the best – and most effective – way to train and bond with your puppy.

Portion control is key – a complete, portion-controlled diet is critical for growing puppies, so any treats should be offered as part of this.

Bitesize is best – make sure any treats are small enough for your pup to swallow easily, and not too hard if they’re very young. Semi-soft treats like our Tiny Friends Farm Dolly Dog Doggy Donuts can be gentler on developing teeth and gums.