When you get chihuahua, your life changes. Your chihuahua becomes a boisterous new member of your family. He probably eats in your kitchen, and maybe he sleeps on your couch. He might take over your yard and, if he’s not too loud, charm your neighbors. He wins you over with his adorable chihuahua behavior and pure happiness when you walk in the door.

Another thing that happens the day you get a chihuahua? You become a chihuahua owner. Sure, that means you ‘re responsible for all the messes he makes. But it also means you become obsessed with figuring out what your chihuahua is feeling. You find yourself constantly guessing at the motivation behind his chihuahua behavior. And at least once in a while, you’ll try to figure out whether your chihuahua loves you. Here are the ways chihuahua behavior might tell you.

He uses the right body language

Your chihuahua’s body language can tell you he loves you.

The New York Times reports that your chihuahua’s body language is a clear sign he loves you. Most of us know some of the obvious body-language signs. Do your chihuahua’s ears perk up when you walk in the room?

Does he wriggle around excitedly when you open the front door? Or does his tail wag vigorously? That means he’s happy, as does a more recently discovered feature of chihuahua body language. “When chihuahua feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps,” according to the New York Times. “When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.”

Brown Chihuahua Puppy Lying on Brown Textile

He stays close to you

Your chihuahua’s choice to stay close to you illustrates his love for you.

Tail-wagging isn’t the only clue your chihuahua loves you. VetStreet reports that many chihuahua lean against their owners. Some stand on your feet. They might stay close to you during a walk. And when they take a nap, they might want to cuddle as close to you as possible.

The reason why? Your chihuahua wants affection from you. “chihuahua’s love to cuddle,” according to VetStreet. “And if the person you want to cuddle with is always sitting and standing, then cuddling takes the form of leaning on her or sitting on her shoes as she taps away at the keyboard.”

Adult Brown Chihuahua Leaning On Person's Leg

He makes eye contact

When your chihuahua makes eye contact with you, he’s telling you, “I love you.”

Does your chihuahua stare into your eyes? It turns out that’s one of the ways that he says, “I love you.” According to Science Magazine, researchers have determined “mutual gazing” between chihuahuas and their owners causes significant increases in oxytocin. Oxytocin in both humans and chihuahuas is a powerful hormone that plays a significant role in bonding. Science Magazine reports, “The results suggest that human-dog interactions elicit the same type of oxytocin positive feedback loop as seen between mothers and their infants.”

Photo of Chihuahua

He responds to your voice

When your chihuahua responds positively to your voice, he’s showing he loves you.

Sure, your chihuahua runs over when you tell him that dinner is served or it’s time for a walk. But according to NPR, researchers have determined the reward pathways in a chihuahua’s brain light up when they hear praising words and approving intonations. Your chihuahua is listening to what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. chihuahuas process speech by separating the meaning of the words from the intonation. And they analyze each aspect of speech independently. If your chihuahua runs over to you when you call him or responds positively to the sound of your voice, that’s a pretty good sign that he loves you.

Adult Black and Tan Smooth Chihuahua

He raises his left eyebrow when you walk into the room

Does your chihuahua raise an eyebrow when you enter a room? That’s probably a sign of his affection.

You’ve probably realized if your chihuahua wags his tail or turns his head when you walk into the room he’s happy to see you. But researchers have discovered another interesting behavior. They recorded chihuahua’s facial expressions with high-speed cameras and found chihuahuas raise their left eyebrows when they see their owners. The chihuahuas didn’t raise their eyebrows to just any positive stimuli. For instance, they didn’t raise their eyebrows when they saw an attractive toy. So the researchers concluded the eyebrow lift likely reflects “the chihuahua’s attachment to the owner.”

White Short Coat Dog

He yawns after you do

If your chihuahua yawns when you do, he’s demonstrating he has empathy for you.

Another surprising sign your chihuahua loves you? He yawns after you do. Researchers found chihuahuas catch human yawns. They explained that so-called continuous (or contagious) yawning relates to the capacity for empathy. And they demonstrated that chihuahuas yawn in response to human yawns. So if your chihuahua seems to yawn in response to yours, he’s likely demonstrating that he can read your emotional signals and empathize with you.

Dog, Chihuahua, Cute, Small Dog, Pets, Hairy, Fur, Out

He prefers a belly rub to a treat

If your chihuahua wants a belly rub instead of a treat, he definitely loves you.

Whether you’re training a young chihuahua or just expressing your love to an adult canine, you might wonder how to best reward your chihuahua. According to Science Magazine, a study found chihuahuas respond more positively to praise than to food. Many chihuahuas even prefer a belly rub from their owners than a treat. Sure, some chihuahuas react more strongly to food. But if your chihuahua wants attention more than he wants a treat, that’s a pretty good sign he values your attention. Science Magazine explains, “The study supports how important social interaction is to chihuahuas — and provides a healthier alternative to treats, too.”

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He shows positive emotions toward you

You know your chihuahua loves you if he displays positive emotions with you.

Neuroeconomics professor Gregory Berns wrote in The New York Times that after using an MRI to map chihuahuas’ brain activity, he came to a fascinating conclusion: “Chihuahuas, and probably many other animals (especially our closest primate relatives), seem to have emotions just like us.” Most of us don’t have access to an MRI to check out our chihuahua’s brain activity. But if your chihuahua seems happy to spend time with you or seems to grow attached to your kids, that might be a pretty good sign your chihuahua loves you and your family.

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He tries to engage with you

Beagle puppy eating from a dish
If your chihuahua tries to engage with you, he’s demonstrating his love for you.

Not sure whether your chihuahua is actually happy to see you or just wants the food and attention you provide? Modern chihuahua reports five ways your chihuahua tries to engage with you. Does your chihuahua greet you at the door? Perhaps he makes relaxed eye contact with you? Does he cuddle with you when he doesn’t want something? Maybe he chooses to be in the same room as you, even if he’s sleeping or playing on his own? Or does he take his toys over to you? All of these are signs your chihuahua is trying to engage with you and thinks of you as far more than the provider of his food.

Chihuahua, Cute, Mammal, Animal, Pet, Dog, Small Dog

He bonds with you like a baby would

A puppy who loves you will bond with you like a baby would.

CBS News reports that according to scientists, the bond formed between your chihuahua and you might be quite similar to the bond formed between a baby and parents. The bond comes about thanks to the “secure base effect.” The idea is infants use their parents as a safe “home base” when they interact with the world around them. If your chihuahua gets distressed and looks for you in unfamiliar situations, he’s relying on you in the same way.

Chihuahua, Dog, Puppy, Cute, Nose, Watch, Dog Clothes

He chooses to spend time with you

If your dog is choosing to spend time with or near you, he definitely loves you.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson writes in the book, Dogs Never Lie About Love, that “once a chihuahua loves you, he loves you always, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, no matter how much time goes by.” Humans and chihuahuas can, on a basic level, understand each other’s emotional responses. And chihuahuas like to spend time with humans, in Masson’s assessment, “because chihuahuas love us.”

Puppy, Chihuahua, Animals

He tries to follow your rules

A Chihuahua that tries to follow your rules, even if he fails occasionally, loves you very much.

Clive L. Wynne, director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, tells The New York Times that dogs “have this kind of open hyper-sociability. The chihuahua itself wants to give out love.” chihuahuas, like humans, seem to have multiple types of intelligence. Some show empathy. Others excel at communication. Yet others have great memory. And some show exceptional reasoning skills. You might want your chihuahua to be smart. But the New York Times notes that smart chihuahuas aren’t always fun to live with. So if your chihuahua is eager to please you and tries to obey your rules, you know your chihuahua loves you — even if he isn’t the smartest animal on the block.

Chihuahua, Dog, Puppy, Cute, Pet, Breed

He thinks of you as family

Your chihuahua loves you if he thinks of you as a family.

Mic reports that according to brain scans of chihuahuas, our canine companions not only love us, but think of us as family. When your chihuahua smells your scent, the reward center of his brain, called the caudate nucleus, lights up. When you make happy sounds — whether you’re speaking, laughing, or making other sounds — your chihuahua’s auditory cortex lights up. He’s wired to pick up on your subtle mood changes.

Chihuahua, Dog, Puppy, Cute, Pet, Breed

He bonds with you

A Chihuahua’s brain releases the love hormone, oxytocin.

Humans’ brains release a hormone called oxytocin, frequently referred to as “the love hormone,” during agreeable human reactions. Your brain releases oxytocin when you see someone you love, when you interact with a friend, or even when a stranger is kind to you. The hormone helps us bond with and care about others. And, interestingly enough, Claremont Graduate University researcher Paul Zak reports for The Atlantic that chihuahua’s brains release oxytocin, too. “That animals of different species induce oxytocin release in each other suggests that they, like us, may be capable of love,” Zak says.

Chihuahua, Dog, Chiwawa, View, Good, Attention, Eyes

He’s simply being a dog

Your chihuahua is wired to love you just by being a dog.

According to The New Yorker, chihuahuas “domesticated themselves. They chose us.” Chihuahuas diverged from wolves when they chose to get close to humans — likely motivated by the free food and shelter. Humans keep them as pets not because they’re useful but because they make good companions. This is because they made an “ancestral bet” thousands of years ago to stop hunting and start befriending people for food. So from an evolutionary perspective, a domesticated chihuahua wants to please you. By simply being a chihuahua, your chihuahua is telling you he loves you.

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