Pets, you gotta love ’em, right? And when you want to show your pet just how much you love them, there are so many ways to do it. The first thing that comes to mind might be giving your pet a handful of treats, but there are so many other more creative ways to show your affection. Some pet experts even argue that treats should be reserved for training and rewarding good behavior — not for whenever you feel like giving one out. Additionally, according to Pet MD, dogs actually form a weaker bond with people who just feed them as opposed to people who spend time exercising and playing with them, so you’ll definitely want to try making a lengthy fetch session a weekly ritual for your dog.
So the next time you want to show your pet how much you love them, you can try any one of these methods that are just as good as — if not better — than treats.
Learn their language
Every species of pet — from dogs to cats to bunnies to guinea pigs — have their own “language” and way of communicating amongst each other. The best way to make sure you’re telling your pet you love them is by learning what is and isn’t affectionate behavior for them specifically. Dogs, for example, generally don’t like being hugged, according to the American Kennel Club. Although this seems like a natural sign of affection for humans, to dogs, putting your limbs overtop of them is an act of dominance, which they can find intimidating.
Most pets absolutely love being pet or stroked, and not just dogs: Cats, birds, rats, and other rodent pets love being pet. Just make sure to learn what parts of the body they prefer to be pet. Rabbits, for instance, enjoy being pet on their cheeks and head but don’t enjoy being pet on their rear, feet, or belly, according to Petsial.
Play with them
Playing fetch with your dog or dangling a cat toy for your kitty is also another great way to show them you love them. They’ll see you’re spending time with them and having fun with them. You’ll also be keeping them mentally stimulated, which is a must for a happy pet, according to Petmate. For smaller pets that you can’t play with, such as hamsters, you can buy them a new toy to enjoy.
Let them into your space
Letting your pet come into your personal space is a big sign that you love them. This is especially true for cats and dogs. According to Paw Culture, “research studying pet brains has revealed that allowing your pet to sleep with you is the ultimate display of trust, love and affection for your cat or dog.”
Groom your pet
Dogs and cats particularly love being groomed, according to Petmate, because they love getting the extra attention from you. Keeping your pet well-groomed with regular brushing will not only allow you to spend quality bonding time with them, but will keep them feeling great for days.
Keep them healthy
Keeping your pet feeling healthy and strong is one of the best ways to show you love them, so make sure to take them for regular checkups with the vet. Your furry (or non furry) friend may not be able to fully understand that that’s what you’re doing, but what they will know is that they feel great!