Some signs that dogs love their owners includeÂ the desire for cuddles after eating, the desire to share a bed with their ownersÂ and visible happiness when their owners return home. A dog's happiness upon the owner's return might involveÂ enthusiastic barking, jumping and licking, or more subtle behavior like a simple tail-wagging approach.
The happiness displayed by a dog upon their owner's return is not to be confused with the anxiety of separation. Discomfort at being left alone is more an indication of a maladjusted dog and a weak bond of affection.
Unlike humans, dogs do not have a well-developed capacity for forward thinking. This is why a dog's interest in its owner after eating is a more reliable indicator of love than its interest beforehand. If a dog stays around its owner after satisfying its hunger, there is likely to be a strong affection.
A dog's choice of sleeping companion is a strong indicator of love, since dogs naturally prefer to be around those with whom they feel a strong affinity.
More straightforwardly, dog owners can determine how much their dog loves them by assessing how much they love their dog. If the relationship is based on little more than the provision of food and shelter, then there is unlikely to be a strong and healthy bond of affection in return.