This week we’ve been looking at the fun idea of dog love languages and how they correspond to different breed groups. Obviously, this is just for fun, but the idea behind it is the same as with people. Just like you and I have a love language, a way that cues to us that we are being loved dogs also have preferences for how they want to engage with their people to feel loved. In relationships, it’s important for partners to understand each other’s love languages, and the same is true in our relationship with our dogs. For the full breakdown check out Dog Love Languages.
What are your dog’s main love languages? What are the things that you enjoy most doing with your dog? Are these things aligned or are they a bit different?
Give your dog more of what they want
When you are looking to spend more quality time with your dog, or just wanting to be more intentional in your daily life, it’s important to know what you want, and what your dog wants. A lot of conflict or challenges in people’s relationships and daily lives with their dogs come down to a mismatch of expectations in how you and your dog will spend quality time together aka mismatched love languages. For example, if you have a high drive active dog whose favorite thing to do is to run and chase balls, and your favorite thing is to cuddle, you might feel like you are spending lots of time with your dog, but your relationship is lacking something. Similarly, if you try to coerce your dog into cuddling, your dog might feel frustrated and just want to play. This doesn’t mean you don’t love each other, it just means you and your dog have different human/canine love languages.
Find Joy In Compromise!
Like any relationship, the one you have with your dog can require some compromise. If you and your dog have different love languages or aren’t completely aligned on what sounds like the best way to spend time together. If you have a dog that isn’t naturally inclined to be cuddly with you but you like to cuddle with your dog use treats to call your dog onto the couch or into bed with you and praise/reward your dog for choosing to relax next to you. If you have a dog that you know is always ready for adventure, make sure to carve out some time in your daily and weekly schedule to play, walk, hike or learn new skills together.
Enrichment Regardless of Breed:
Showing your dog you love them by meeting their social, emotional, training, enrichment needs is the best way that we can make clear to our dogs that we love and value them. It’s important to note that while we are talking about canine love languages all dogs regardless of breed or mix of breeds love and need enrichment. All dogs are smart and interested in learning and playing and need opportunities to use their bodies and minds each day.
Dog Love Language Activities:
Thinking back to the love language by breed group and what are the most common love languages by group, and some fun ideas for putting love language play into action with the activities that you and your dog explore at home and sports/activities you might want to think about trying:
Hounds are an active group of dogs that were originally bred to help hunt either by finding prey with their highly sensitive nose or by chasing down game. These are dogs whose primary love languages are likely to be Give Me a Job and Let’s Play!
At Home: A fun way to help your hound feel fulfilled is to create games and challenges that utilize their natural instincts. This can look like chase games with you or toys, hiding treats in boxes, or pulling out some treat dispensing toys to help your dog use their skills
Out & About: If you’re ready to take your dog’s hunting and skills to the next level consider getting involved with sports like Scentwork or Fast CAT (open to all purebred and mixed breed dogs) or Lure Coursing (for sighthounds only).
The lively loving and feisty terrier group is always ready for adventure, fun and games. The primary love languages of dogs in the Terrier group are Let’s Play and Gimme The Good Stuff. These little dogs are full of passion and will keep you on your toes!
At Home: Generally not content to be lap dogs, terriers are going to look for enrichment and activity in their day. You can create fun games/challenges for them to use their natural abilities by hiding toys or treats in boxes, under blankets, or in other rooms of your home and encouraging them to find them.
Out & About: Terriers excel at any sport or activity where they are able to use their nose. The terrier specific sport of Earthdog, where dogs go into man-made tunnels to search for rats (no rats are injured) is a lot of fun. Similarly, the sport of Barn Hunt which is open to all breeds is an excellent way to channel your terrier’s innate desire to find rodents.
As the name implies these breeds love having a job to do. These mostly very large dogs are powerful and passionate about training and learning and are very devoted to their people and their work. Their primary love language is Tell me I’m The Goodest Dog and Give Me A Job.
At Home: These big dogs are always looking for something to do, and like to be of use around the house. To help your working breed dog feel fulfilled, teach them skills to help you around the house like putting their toys away, or helping you to carry things from room to room in the house.
Out & About: These large dogs love to work and there are a variety of sports and activities you can get involved with that use their natural abilities. Depending on your dog’s breed and what they were originally developed to do you might want to explore: water work – a simulated water rescue, Carting/Draft where dogs are trained to pull and maneuver carts and where dogs pull people on cross country sleds.
Herding dogs are some of the top athletes of the dog world. These exuberant active dogs excel at work and sports and are the kind of dogs who are generally happiest when they are getting to use their minds. No surprise, their primary love languages are Give Me A Job and Let’s Play.
At Home: To show herding dogs how much you love them be sure to keep them active around the house. Playing with toys and learning tricks is a great way to show herding dogs how much you care. You can even give them chores around the house like teaching them how to put toys away in the toy basket.
Out & About: Herding dogs excel at a variety of canine sports. To help your herding dog feel loved and fulfilled consider taking classes or getting involved with sports like Agility and Flyball. You can even explore if your dog has the drive to herd through Treibball, where dogs herd balls, or actual Herding, a sport where a dog’s instinct around livestock and ability to move livestock from ducks to sheep is tested.
These tiny pups are very devoted to their people and love spending time with you. Generally, these breeds were developed to be companions and their primary love languages are Let’s Snuggle and Gimme The Good Stuff.
At Home: These little pups are easy to spoil! Find time each day to spend quality time together. Anything big dogs can do little dogs can do as well, so even though these pups might love to cuddle don’t forget to get them up and active playing games you both enjoy at home or in the yard.
Out & About: Even though these small dogs might be right at home on your lap, it’s important to take them out on fun dates and activities like a vacation to dog-friendly destinations, visiting dog-friendly restaurants and shops. These little dogs can also be great athletes and enjoy sports and activities the same as any larger dog. Sports like canine freestyle (doggie dancing), agility, and scent work are all fun to explore with toy breeds.
Dogs in the nonsporting group are a diverse bunch. A bit of the catchall of different breeds, so for this category which contains everything from Dalmatian to Shar Pei, so definitely check on your specific breed for more information about what they were bred to do in order to get an idea of activities that might be the most rewarding to them. These dogs tend to have a love language of Let’s Play and Gimme The Good Stuff.
At Home: These spunky dogs enjoy a good time and make wonderful companions. You can keep these dogs active at home with training, games, and puzzles. You can purchase treat dispensing puzzles for your dog to play, or create your own by hiding treats in boxes or in a snuffle mat for your dog to find.
Out & About: Experiment with different sports and activities to see what your nonsporting breed excels at and finds most enjoyable. From Agility to Scent Work there are sports and classes that will fit the energy level of any dog.
Sporting dogs are athletic and active dogs always looking for a good time. These are dogs who love to know that they have made you happy, and to spend quality time with you. Sporting dogs are dogs who want to know you’re happy in your relationship and are always ready for a good time. No surprise here, the primary love language for breeds in the Sporting Group are Tell Me I’m a Good Dog and Let’s Play.
At Home: Sporting group dogs tend to love spending quality active time with you playing ball, hiking, and going on walks and hikes. These are dogs who want to play and explore with you so be sure to add lots of games and activity into your daily routines.
Out & About: To channel the sporting dog’s inner drive, spend time enjoying the great outdoors in activities like hiking. There are also a number of sports and activities you could consider including sports like Rally Obedience, as well as sporting dog-specific events like field trials, dock diving.