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Several years ago, I joined a Toastmasters group. At my first meeting, the head of that chapter spoke about a book, The Five Love Languages, and how it affected every aspect of his live in a positive way. I made a note of the title on my massive, long-running TBR list in Google Keep.
Much later, one of our adoption social workers mentioned the book. She said that her reading group studied it and she later read the version for children and found it to be enlightening. I went to make a note of the title… and saw that it was already on my list.
Fast forward to a couple months ago. A friend recommended a Netflix show called I’m Sorry (you guys, it’s hilarious… if you like totally inappropriate, subversive humor… you’ve been warned), and an entire episode centered on the book. Instead of making a third note, I reserved a copy at the library.
Here’s the gist: Everyone has a specific style of communication. Relationships improve when those involved know and understand and respect each other’s unique style.
The entire time I read the book, I kept thinking, THIS IS SO TRUE FOR OUR DOGS! And, yeah, I totally thought it in a shout! Here’s why:
No two dogs are alike.
Just like people, some dogs thrive with lots of physical touch while others want to be left alone.
Just like people, some dogs need a ton of personal attention while others prefer to have quiet time to recharge.
Just like people, dogs have very different needs and experience love in their own unique way.
So, I thought it would be fun to break down the five love languages of dogs, adapting the ideas from the book to our furry friends. Then, I’d love to know from YOU, which of the five do you think most applies to your pup? And, if you know yours, do you two “speak” the same language?
Acts of Service
This language applies to someone who feels loved and valued when others do something for him or her. Does your dog jump for joy when you brush out his coat? Is she over the moon when you set aside a little extra bit of your day for a longer walk than usual? Or maybe he goes bananas whenever you take him on a car ride? Does your dog seem to enjoy the extra things you do for him or her? If this is your dog, figure out some ways you can sprinkle those extras into your regular routine. It doesn’t have to be crazy or inconvenient; simply bring your dog along to pick up coffee on the weekend or wake up 10 minutes earlier a couple times a week to take a longer walk!
I can safely say, this language is NOT Cooper’s… 🙂
Some dogs go gaga over belly rubs and butt scritches. When you pause, they paw your leg. When you sit down, their head instantly lands in your lap. These dogs crave pets and feel loved when they’re getting physical attention. For dogs who speak this love language, set aside dedicated time for a puppy massage or make sure to give your dog his favorite scritches when you settle in to read or watch TV at night.
I can also state with total certainty that this is NOT Cooper’s either…
Words of Affirmation
“Who’s a good girl?” “Are you the handsomest boy ever?” “Such a good, good boy!” Some dogs primp and preen over praise. In fact, for a small group of dogs, praise is as motivating as treats! Know your dog; if this is your pup, you can speak his or her language in training and get really far really fast! If your dog’s love language is words of affirmation, pour on the praise, even for silly stuff (ex. “YAY! Clean Plate Club President! I’m so proud of you for eating your whole dinner!”)
While Coop performs well with praise, it’s not his primary language… I’d say this might be his secondary language.
Treats! Toys! And more toys, please! Do you know a dog who hoards toys? Maybe he buries his bone or stashes his favorite squeaker. Perhaps he goes bonkers whenever a new toy comes into the house (and maybe loses interest on old toys kinda fast). Your dog might be most motivated by gifts! While it feels like gift giving can put a hit on your wallet, remember: Rotating your toys makes new toys seem old again! If this is your dog, speak her language by rotating toys regularly and mixing in special treats in small doses throughout the week.
Also, not Coop’s love language… he can give or take, take or leave treats and toys. He’s been chewing the same antler for like five years now EVEN IF I swap it out for something fresh. He is all shrug-emoji over treats and toys.
THIS is Cooper’s love language. A dog whose love language is quality time only wants to hang out with you, no matter what you’re doing. Reading in bed? He’s snuggled right up! Watching TV on the couch? Ditto. There he is! Heading to the bathroom? “Wait, I’m coming, too!” Whether it’s walking or running, hanging around the house, playing in the backyard, napping, whatever, a dog whose language is quality time just wants to do it with you… even if it’s not his favorite activity. For instance, Coop doesn’t love the car, but he would MUCH rather go with me somewhere than stay home by himself. You can praise him, pat him, treat him, and so on, but it won’t make him half as happy as if he’s just hanging with me. My dog’s love language is 100 percent quality time!
If your dog speaks this love language, too, simply include him or her, even when it’s something small. You have to run to the bank? Bring her in the car! Walking down your driveway to get the mail? Leash him up and go, even though it only takes five seconds! Those small, simple steps will make your quality-time-loving pup feel loved.
Can you apply the five love languages of dogs to your pup? Which do you think your dog is? Which are you? Do they mesh?
And, maybe most importantly, how can you take steps to show your dog just how much you care by using his or her love language?
I’d love to know in the comments below! 🙂
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to show Coop my love and appreciation for him by curling up on the sofa with my guy!