Dog ownership can feel like a fun, semi-secret club. Daily run-ins with other dog lovers are like serendipitous meetings amongst kindred spirits. Admiring your pups, trading stories, and having doggy dates feels so natural.
But every now and then, you run into someone who is less enthused about your devotion to your furry friend.
Maybe it’s the eye-rolls as your dog innocently sniffs their way towards an unsuspecting stranger. Or the exasperated sigh from the neighbor who hates it when your dog barks.
You’re over the top in love with your pup, but for a split second, you doubt yourself and wonder if maybe you’re the crazy one.
Is it normal that I love my dog so much?
Generally, loving your dog very much is perfectly normal. Oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone, is released through touching and maintaining eye contact with your dog, making the both of you bond and love each other - very much like a parent forms a bond with their child. However, it is, unfortunately, possible to demonstrate this love in unhealthy ways.
In this article, I will delve deeper and explain why you love your dog so much and answer whether you can be too in love with your dog.
Maybe you’ve never thought to put your love for your dog under the microscope.
Well, today is the day!
Come with me as I break down exactly why you love your dog so much.
Here we go!
Do you find yourself thinking of your dog as your baby or even thinking of your dog before you think of yourself? Rest assured, this is normal!
Love is a robust and primal emotion. People have been known to do drastic, dramatic, and beautiful things, all in the name of love. Pure love prompts you to take the best interests of another into account and to go the extra mile to protect and care for them.
So, the fact that you feel this way about your pup is way more than usual. Empathy prompts you to feel not only responsibility towards them but a deep attachment to them too.
This may manifest in behaviors like:
It’s understandable how someone who isn’t much of an animal-lover could see this as a little overboard. It can seem like you’re centering your life around your pup. And to a degree, sometimes you sort of are! But that is what you naturally do for anything or anyone you love.
Science even backs up your intense love for your pup!
Human-doggy interaction has been shown to increase levels of the chemical oxytocin. Oxytocin, known as the cuddle hormone or superglue hormone, is released through warm interactions like hugging, kissing, cuddling, and even simple eye contact.
A study showed that both dogs and owners saw their oxytocin levels skyrocket after prolonged eye contact with one another. Results showed the dog’s oxytocin level rose by 130 percent and owner’s by a staggering 300 percent!
This type of bonding between human and pup is very similar to the connection seen between mother and infant. It is thought that this same chemical process is majorly responsible for the successful domestication of dogs.
Another study confirmed how fondly humans look upon our canine counterparts. In this study, students were given a made-up story centering around a victim of assault. Researchers measured levels of empathy depending upon who the victim was. The options were: a puppy, a one-year-old baby, a six-year-old dog, and a 30-year-old human.
Test participants consistently showed the most empathy for the human baby, the puppy, and the young dog! Conversely, the 30-year-old human was given the lowest levels of empathy for their injuries.
The findings reinforce the idea that many people view their dogs as more than just their pets. People see dogs very closely to how they view their own babies.
Now that I’ve essentially given you a free pass along (with scientific validation!) to be as in love with your pup as you wanna, you may be wondering:
But can you be too in love with your dog?
That depends! Sure, you love your dog, but you’ve probably heard stories where you even thought someone went a tad overboard.
Here are some light-hearted signs that you may love your dog a tiny bit too much:
These behaviors can range from sweet, funny, and quirky to even kind of creepy.
All jokes aside, it is tough to gauge if you can truly love your dog “too much” because it can vary so much with each individual situation. One way to get an idea could be if your love for your dog has very negative consequences for you or anyone you deeply care about.
Here are some realistic examples:
I don’t believe that you can love your dog too much, but that love can be mismanaged and manifest in ways that can end up harming you and, ultimately, your pup too.
Any methods of loving your dog that are to your own financial, relational, physical, or emotional detriment could be signs that you are demonstrating your love for your dog in less than healthy ways.
Your pup does deserve all of the love and care in the world. But like they say on an airplane, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help anyone else.
At the end of the day, it is kind of impossible to love your dog too much…and why would you want to? Putting a cap on the love, fun, and enhancement your pup provides in your life feels like an unnecessary shame.
Science even confirms; it’s natural for us to love them as we do! The release of oxytocin and the free-flowing empathy we feel for our fur babies make our love deep, true, and strong.
So as long as you’re not putting yourself into bankruptcy, the hospital, or harming those around you, love them as hard as you want to. There’s no such thing as loving your dog “too much” if it comes from a balanced, firm foundation of pure, good, old-fashioned healthy love.