From their wagging tails, smiling faces and playful barking, dogs are truly man's best friend. Despite the language barrier between dog and master, did you know there are ways they are telling you how much they love you every day? You may be missing these kind, affectionate gestures that show just how much they love, depend and cherish you for taking care of them.

Here are nine surprising ways your dog says "I love you":

1. Eye contact

Those affectionately named "puppy eyes" are actually a way your dog shows you how much he loves you. According to this study, a number of dogs were monitored while they were making eye-to-eye contact with their masters, which induced an increased release of oxytocin (usually known as the love hormone) in the dogs. When your dog is looking at you with those wide, shiny eyes, he is truly looking at something he loves.

2. Getting excited when you come home

When you come home from a long day at work and she eagerly greets you by rapidly wagging her tail and dancing around your legs wildly, she is showing how much she missed you and how glad she is that you are back. Give her a scratch behind her ears and she'll love you even more.

3. Leaning on you

Do you ever notice how your dog leans his body into yours when you're stroking him? This is a sure sign of affection and appreciation toward you. Leaning can also indicate that he wants to be comforted or is feeling a bit anxious. Whatever the reason, the act of leaning on you is a definite sign that you are his entire world.

4. Rubbing up against you

When your dog greets you, does she rub her head and nose against you? Doing so indicates that she is telling you something like, "It's good to see you!" or "Welcome back!" Other research has concluded that she rubs up against you, she is initially trying to share her scent with you and make you part of her "pack." Either way, she definitely adores you.

5. Yawning when you do

A recent study shows that yawning is contagious among people because it is a way of connecting on an empathetic level. Therefore, if your dog yawns soon after you do, he is definitely connected to you on a deep, emotional level. Next time you yawn, pay attention to what your loveable pooch does, you may be surprised just how in tune you are with each other's emotions.

6. Cuddling with you after eating

Everyone (including people who dislike dogs) knows just how important food is to dogs.By offering a tiny treat, you can get your canine companion to do anything you want them to. So, if she goes directly to you to cuddle as soon as she finishes scarfing down her dinner, this indicates just how important you are to her. You are her first thought after she's finished eating. How precious!

7. Sleeping near you

Most dogs are very particular about where they want to nap or spend the night, so if he always seems close to you when he's snoozing, this shows how loyal he is to you. Dogs like to be near their "pack" and if your bed is one of his favorite sleeping spots, there is some definite puppy love in your life.

8. Smiling at you

We all know what a smiling dog looks like: her eyes are shiny, her ears are relaxed and her whole demeanor is at ease. Your dog's body language is one of the only ways she can communicate how she is feeling. When she is in a complete state of relaxation around you, it means she feels safe, comforted and loved.

9. Sharing a favorite toy

Every dog has a toy he loves the most. If your pooch often offers his favorite toy to you, he is trying to share his most prized possession with you. And that act alone is something you should feel pretty special about.

Never take your furry friends for granted. Dogs have some of the most beautiful souls in the world. All they truly want to do is love you and be loved in return, which is a trait we could all learn from.

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