The professional dancer chose not to appear in season 12 of the ABC dance competition in order to focus on other work commitments including his role in the movie Cobu 3D, but returned for the current 13th season.
Speaking to TV Guide about his return to the dance floor with current partner Ricki Lake, he said: " [The premiere] was wonderful. It was great to receive that sort of response. That's why I love live audiences so much.
"It's the instant response and gratification of the hard work you've done. They stood up and cheered. I was telling Ricki, 'Isn't this wonderful?'. I was really glad she was able to experience that."
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Hough went on to say that in addition to focusing on Cobu 3D, he felt that after winning season 10 with Nicole Scherzinger and season 11 with Jennifer Grey it could be "anticlimactic" coming back again too soon.
"For me, it was like, 'Wow! I've just had two incredible seasons. It really can't get much better than that, so I'm going to take one out and then come back'. It's difficult going all the way to the end. It's not easy at all. It takes a toll, for sure."
Hough and Lake will take to the dance floor for their third performance on Monday night's personal stories week episode, which will see the celebrities dancing a routine inspired by one of the most memorable years of their life.
Mary J Blige will perform two tracks, 'Real Love' and '25/8', on the Tuesday night results show, which will also feature Estelle and Macy's Stars of Dance paying tribute to The Twist in honour of its 50th anniversary.
Lake said in a recent interview with ETOnline that she is hoping to continue Hough's winning streak - which included a season seven victory with Brooke Burke - saying: "He's won three times now so I don't want to let him down. I'm hoping to bring home a fourth for him."
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC.
Watch Derek Hough and Ricki Lake talking to ETOnline earlier this season below: