4 Signs Your Dog Feels Comfortable Around You
You are your dog’s favorite person on the planet because nobody else gives better belly rubs than you. However, in the spirit of constant improvement, see if your dog shows the following 4 signs of familiarity and comfort.
Photo by Tanya Chuvpylova
1. Your dog sleeps with you
The factors that will determine a dog’s sleeping habits and preferences are many and complex. However, it is safe to say that if your dog sleeps in the same room with you or on the same bed right next to you, it’s a good sign that you are a safe company for them to call it a day and drift off.
Like dogs, we don’t share our bedroom with any one, and whether we share it or not, we want it to be a space of tranquility and comfort. Likewise, your dog will look for a place in the house through positive association. Dogs can be picky when it comes to their cozy nest. It won’t be their sleeping spot unless it’s extra peaceful, safe, and familiar.
My dog, for the most part of the night, doesn’t sleep in the bedroom with me —I don’t think she has a favorite spot. Sometimes she sleeps in her comfy bed in the living room, and other times when it’s hot she prefers the balcony. Does that mean that she finds coziness everywhere? I hope so. Does it mean that she feels confident in our relationship that she doesn’t seek intimacy all the time? I prefer that explanation.
2. Your dog sleeps with feet up
Sleeping on the back is a position that leaves animals open to attacks. That’s why we rarely see mammals sleep in this position in the wild. Standing on their feet from this position takes time, a smart animal in the wild wouldn’t do that.
Dogs take this hilarious position when in deep sleep. They use this privilege that comes with living indoors, for maximum comfort, and/or when they want to cool off —turning their semi-bald bellies to the sky helps them exchange heat with the cooler air.
Also, this is how a lower-ranking dog shows respect or submission to a higher ranking dog. They say ”I trust you with my most sensitive parts —I’m friendly”.
When your dog sleeps like this with you in the same room, it means that you have secured your dog’s trust. Your dog is comfortable because she feels safe and secure. If your dog allows you to walk over her while on this position, it means that she trusts you with her life.
3. Your dog makes eye contact with you
When dogs lock eyes with other dogs, it’s a sign of trouble. It’s a confident threat. But more often than not, dogs that lock eyes with their playmates are more like ”let’s have some serious fun now”. This happens when dogs are so familiar that a playful threat is allowed rather than misunderstood.
This is why you will hear people saying that you should avoid eye contact with your dog, as it can be seen as an asking-for-submission gesture by them.
If your dog feels intimidated when you look at her in the eyes, then the circumstances led them to feel that way. Dogs read our body language and the circumstances at the time of communication.
Eye contact is different from staring though. When your dog looks at you in the eyes they are:
- Trying to read you
- Communicating their emotions or intentions
- Expecting something from you (which is a combination of 1 and 2).
Dogs do not communicate emotions with everybody and certainly do not want to lock eyes with unfamiliar faces. When you look into your dog’s eyes and your dog gazes back at you (or the other way around), it means that your dog is comfortable enough to have an otherwise easily misunderstood communication with you.
A 2016 study even suggests that eye contact is crucial for referential communication in pet dogs.
4. And of course the snuggles
Cuddling doesn’t need a special introduction but since we are here, it is one of the most direct ways among mammals to communicate love and intimacy. A basic instinctual way to bond with and get warmth from each other. It’s our first experience of the world, an important part of being a child, a way for mates to bond, and more often than we realize, the reason why many of us end up living with pets.
No other two species share the bond we share with dogs. Dogs and humans live together since prehistoric times; the uniqueness of this symbiosis should not slip our minds. You are thinking of cats, right? Collectively speaking, dogs enjoy a deeper and more layered relationship with us. I got a little off-topic just to clear this out.
Back to us, your dog is the only furry friend of yours to curl up next to you (ok, unless you have a cat). There is no way your dog would want to engage in cuddling with you unless you are worthy of her trust and love. She is comfortable enough to share intimacy and love with you.
A quick note before you leave
Since I am also skeptical of generic advice on the web, I have to say that you should always filter everything you read. Not seeing the above signs doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love you, or that you are doing something wrong. Not necessarily. You know your dog better than I do. Consider factors that impact a dog’s behavior, like age, breed, or traumas.
For example, as I said, my dog doesn’t always like to cuddle next to me. Does she hate me? Of course not. Would I want to change it? Not necessarily, but she is welcome to come closer whenever she wants. That would be a sign that she enjoys my company for sure. Not doing it though doesn’t mean that she doesn’t feel good next to me. She just prefers to sleep alone. Fine by me.