You may not speak French, or have a great appreciation of fine wines, but did you know that we all have a dominant “love language”, that describes the things we instinctively do to show our loved ones that we care? First proposed by Gary Chapman in 1991, love languages encompass the five distinct ways that people demonstrate their love for others. And since everyone is different, learning to recognise the love languages of those around us can help us show we care in ways that others will appreciate the most!
But what about our pets? They may not buy us flowers or cook us three-course meals (more’s the pity), but you may be surprised at just how many similarities there are, when it comes to how our four-legged friends show their affection. Interested to know which love language resonates most for you and your pet? Read on to find out more!
Giving a thoughtful gift is an age-old way to show someone you care, and to those of us who have this as our dominant love language, receiving a meaningful present can make us feel truly valued. Our pets may not be gift-givers in the conventional sense, but you might still recognise this trait in your pet’s behaviour! Does your dog rush off to fetch you a toy when you come back home? Or maybe your cat proudly presents you with little mousey-parcels laid out oh-so carefully on the kitchen floor? If so, your four-legged friend is using their own version of gift-giving to show you just how much you mean to them!
Although our pets are refreshingly non-materialistic, simple gifts, like pet-friendly toys or a new snugly blanket, can make them feel just as loved in return. And gifting them some parasite treatment might not sound exciting, but helping them steer clear of creepy crawly fleas and worms is a sure-fire way to show them you care!
If this is your main love language (and it’s one of the most common), then words of love and encouragement are really important to you, whether spoken aloud or written down. These don’t need to be Shakespeare-esque verses; simply being told how much you’re appreciated or hearing words of thanks can mean a lot.
Although classic movie-style declarations of love may be beyond our four-legged pals, we all know that our pets can speak volumes when they want to! A welcoming meow when you return home, a satisfied purr as your cat lets you know that they approve of something you’ve done (for once!), or that low contented grumbling when you’re tickling your dog’s ears – pets chat away to us all the time, once we’ve learnt to hear them.
And our four-legged friends are expert listeners in return. They may not understand every utterance, but they can sense the warmth behind our words, and many pets would take a word of praise over a morsel of sausage any day, and that’s saying something!
As our pets show us daily, actions often speak louder than words, and one of the loveliest ways we can show those around us we care is through simple acts of kindness that help people out. If you would happily forgo flowers for someone simply making you a cup of tea, this may be the love language you relate to most!
Our pets can take this to a whole new level, and are capable of astounding feats when it comes to supporting their owners. Guide dogs are, of course, well known (and wonderful), but dogs assist people in so many other ways, too. Hearing dogs can alert their owners to doorbells, smoke alarms and even crying babies! Seizure dogs can, amazingly, be trained to recognise when their owner is on the cusp of an episode and steer them to safety. And pets that haven’t received a day’s training in their lives (i.e. most of them!) still play a huge role in improving our quality of life; from reducing our stress levels to simply making our lives better by their mere presence.
There are some simple acts of service we can adopt to put a spring in our pet’s step, too! Prioritising preventative healthcare, by keeping them vaccinated and regularly applying flea and worm treatment, helps ensure our pets stay in tip-top condition, leaving them free to get on with life’s adventures!
Undivided attention, free from distractions, can be a scarce commodity these days in our 24/7 digital age, but to many, it’s the cornerstone of showing our love. It’s probably no huge surprise that this love language comes out on top in most surveys, and it stands to reason that it would score highly with our pets too. The lovely thing about our pets is how present they are in every moment, with no pinging phones to distract them (though we can’t guarantee there won’t be a few other minor diversions… chasing a passing squirrel is just too good an opportunity to miss!).
Whether your pet is your constant shadow or is quite content in their own company, spending time together will always be a great way to strengthen that amazing bond. This could be going for long walks together, playing with toys in the garden; or simply curling up in a chair to watch the world go by, just being in each other’s company is all that matters!
If your pet tries to clamber onto your lap the second you sit down, or stealthily wriggles their way into your bed at night, you can be pretty sure physical touch is an important love language for them! Cats may be known for being more solitary by nature, but our feline friends can be just as loving as their canine counterparts when they want to be; and receiving some rare affection from a discerning feline has got to be one of the highest honours there is! If your pet isn’t much of a cuddler, then respecting their boundaries and giving them space is actually a wonderful demonstration of your love for them, allowing them to relax in the knowledge that they’re adored just the way they are.
For pets that do love a fuss, grooming sessions are a great way to pamper them. These not only help keep their fur in gleaming condition, but also let you check for any pesky parasites that might have hopped onto their coats while they were out on their travels.
So there you have it, a common language between you and your pet that you never even knew you spoke! Whichever love language you’re drawn to the most, remember that it’s often the seemingly small gestures that really show how much we care. Making your pet’s health a priority, and keeping up with preventative healthcare like vaccinations and year-round parasite control, is something that doesn’t need translating; it’s an indisputable way to show your pets that they mean the world to you, not just on February 14th, but all year long!