The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a wonderful tool for understanding yourself, your significant other, your kids, and you friends. Just for fun, I thought I would apply it to my dogs. This is the order I believe most dogs would rank the Five Love Languages. As Chapman points out, we tend to show love in our primary love language.
The first two Love Languages may be switched depending on the dog, but I believe most dogs would rate quality time as their primary Love Language. Quality time is shown in any manner in which the dog spends time with their owner. As soon as I sit or lie down, I have at least one of my dogs on me. I shut the bathroom door and Joy lays patiently outside the door waiting for me. Okay, sometimes it is not very patiently and she whines until I come out, usually if I just got home.
Again, this may be number one for some dogs, such as my Jetta who will lick anyone that lets her, especially if she can lick your face, more specifically your mouth. More commonly, this is shown by the willingness to roll over to let you pet their belly, or just the simple nudge of your hand with their head that causes you to pet them without trying.
Words of Affirmation
Every dog desires to hear a “good girl” or “good boy,” but how do dogs express Words of Affirmation? My dogs jump wildly at the window when I come home, barking their hello.
Acts of Service
The dog that will fetch the master’s slippers or newspaper is showing love by Acts of Service. A service dog definitely shows love by Acts of Service. While dogs must be trained to do these tasks, some breeds of dogs are naturally willing to show love in this way. My dogs, however, will not fetch a stick or ball. Occasionally, Joy will fetch her favorite chew toy about 2-3 times before giving up and just letting it stay where you threw it.
While more common in cats, there are dogs that will show their love by bringing you their dead trophy. Thankfully, my dogs do not demonstrate this Love Language.
Perhaps your dogs would rank the Five Love Languages differently, but this is my experience as the owner of a King Charles Cavalier and a Maltese. While dogs are easier to understand than people, they still need love.
As a long-time adoptive parent to dogs, I would agree most will show their love in the great ways you have described. However, there is another expression of love they possess that might be added to the list. It is "forgiveness." Often when we are too busy to give them the attention they need and deserve, they will soon forgive and forget. Then, our "fur kids" will look at you with big brown eyes that seem to say, "I still love you, dad!" We human parents could learn much from them.