How Dogs Show Gratitude and Thanks

Discover how dogs show gratitude and loyalty to their owners, even in small daily acts.
Tips & Advice → How Dogs Show Gratitude and Thanks

Man's Best Friend, the Loyal Canine

Some naysayers would argue that dogs don't have the same ability as humans to show gratitude.

As a dog trainer, I see it daily. In fact, a dog's sense of loyalty is one of the species' greatest qualities.

Many of the dogs we train are rescue dogs, and I am utterly convinced that most of them know they have been rescued, and are keen (sometimes too keen!) to show their new owners just how grateful they are. Some very quickly will bark or challenge any stranger (to them) approaching their new owner, as they feel this strong sense of gratitude can best be demonstrated by protecting their new owner.

We have trained many dogs that 'were due to be put to sleep the following day' and some of them have turned out to be just about the best dogs their owners could have wished for.

For a dog to really behave properly, there must, however, be a balanced mix of trust, bond and respect. We often come across cases where the bond element is extremely high, but the respect is a little lower, and the trust is a little lower again. Trust is a major issue with rescue dogs (understandably) and so professional advice on the best type of exercise to build trust from your canine companion should be sought.

It doesn't take a major heroic act such as saving your life to know your dog is grateful. We have all heard stories about dogs that have saved their pet parents from major fires or other disasters. However, here are the small acts they generally do daily that let you know they are grateful:

  • Dogs smile. Have you ever noticed when you give your dog a belly rub or a treat that he seems to smile and wag his tail?
  • Dogs give kisses. Although all dogs don't like hugs, many do. Who can resist their slobbery kisses? A simple pat on the head or a kind word means so much to them.
  • Dogs love you unconditionally. If you appear stressed or even sad, your dog will try and comfort you. Whether you are rich or poor, in a good mood or bad, or make mistakes frequently, your dog will always love and forgive you. How often does your dog jump on your lap and even snuggle close to you? It's his or her way of expressing their love. You can see it every time you take him for a walk or play a simple game of fetch. It has been my experience that if you treat an animal with kindness and communication, they will repay with unconditional love.

Although your dog may not be able to bark 'thank you', know that their actions speak louder than words. Remembering all the ways your dog shows gratitude is truly something to offer extra thanks for.


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