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How Do Dogs Say “Thank You”? 5 Gratitude Behaviors (Vet Approved)

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on April 1, 2024 by Dogster Team

A happy dog

How Do Dogs Say “Thank You”? 5 Gratitude Behaviors (Vet Approved)


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

For humans, expressing gratitude is as simple as saying thank you. However, things get a little more complicated when you don’t have the power of speech. If you’ve ever wondered how dogs can say “thank you,” we have the answers. Keep reading to learn five ways dogs show they’re grateful.

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The 5 Ways Dogs Say “Thank You”

1. By Saving Your Life

Every year, the Hero Dog Awards recognize brave canines who risk it all to save the people they love.1 Some of them are trained law enforcement or service dogs, while others are simply family pets who show gratitude to their owners by rescuing them.

This is one of the most extreme examples of how dogs show gratitude, but you can be sure their owners are grateful. Whether they’re keeping a lost child warm in the woods or alerting their owners to a house fire, dogs are there when we need them.

owner petting a happy dog
Image Credit: Bachkova Natalia, Shutterstock

2. By Keeping You Company

You’re never alone when you have a dog, sometimes even when you want to be! The next time you trip over your dog while you’re cooking or listen to them scratch at the bathroom door, think of it as just another way to show they’re grateful to you.

Enjoying the company of a dog can boost your mood and give you someone to talk to. You may have given your dog a family, but they also became yours.

3. By Loving You, Unconditionally

The love of a dog is arguably the purest love a person can receive. Your dog doesn’t judge you. They don’t care if you’re talkative or quiet, fat or thin, and they certainly don’t care about the color of your skin, your gender, or who you are attracted to. The unconditional love of a dog might seem like gratitude enough on its own, but research has found that owning a dog has several health benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.2

Having a dog can boost your serotonin levels, lower your risk of depression, and improve your overall health with exercise. Plus, you’ll be more likely to get out of the house and meet fellow pet lovers, which can prevent loneliness and anxiety. Ultimately, your doctor may be even more grateful than your dog!

close up of a happy redbone coonhound
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

4. By Showing Affection

One of the sweetest ways dogs tell us they’re grateful is by showing affection. Every dog shows it in different ways, and you’ll learn your dog’s special love language over time. Maybe your pup stares at you adoringly and gently wags their tail.

Perhaps they prefer crawling in your lap, licking you, or laying their head on your leg. Some dogs show love by giving gifts, bringing you their toys to initiate playtime, or sharing their favorite bone.

5. By Protecting You

The human-canine bond dates back thousands of years, with wolves being one of the first animals ever domesticated by humans. Dogs can form attachment bonds with humans, just like babies with their parents or caregivers, and they will often show a sense of responsibility and protectiveness for their human family.

One way your dog demonstrates this bond and their gratitude for it is by protecting you. Some breeds are naturally more protective than others but almost every dog shows a special closeness and awareness of their owner.

They bark if someone they don’t know comes to the door, and stick close if a stranger stops to talk to you during their daily walk. They all have their own ways of alerting their humans to potential danger, and many will do their best to protect you from harm.

woman hugging a black Tibetan Mastiff
Image Credit: Veronika Kraeva, Shutterstock

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How to Show Your Dog You’re Grateful for Them

As we’ve learned, dogs are generous when showing how grateful they are to us. But how can we return the favor and show our gratitude to our dogs?

The number one way to show gratitude to your dogs is by providing them with a safe and secure home, where they will be loved, cared for, fed, and made safe. Treats and toys are always a surefire way to make your dog happy, but there is one thing that virtually all dogs crave the most: time with you.

Dogs thrive on routines and loving support. You can show your dog your gratitude for them by providing clear expectations so they feel secure. Training and socialization are key elements of this.

Provide your dog with regular preventative health care, including vet checkups, shots, parasite control, and grooming. They will be grateful for your attention, and you’ll be thankful for a healthy pup.

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These five ways dogs say thank you are just some of the amazing reasons that sharing your life with a canine friend can be so rewarding. You can also show your dog gratitude by providing attention, care, and training. Even when we’re busy and stressed, taking just ten minutes to play with your dog will do wonders for them, and for you.

One of the most important ways to let your dog know you care is by giving them a loving home for their entire life. When you care for a dog properly and provide plenty of love and attention, they’ll show their gratitude frequently.

Featured Image Credit: Arman Travels, Shutterstock

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