What We Can Learn From Our Dogs

Dogs are smarter than humans in the way they approach life. Here's how we can take a page from their book.

When I look at my dogs lounging in the yard, I’m a little envious. They walk the perimeter of the yard, sniffing the sweet aroma of yellow roses. They recline in the cool grass surveying the lawn or doze lazily on the warm patio stone to the backbeat of pollinating bees. They stretch out anywhere they like, spring wind in their muzzles, watching birds, squirrels, leaves and us.

Dogs have the knack of living in the moment. No worries about jobs, mortgages, health or where the next meal will come from. They know we’ll provide.

We may not have the same easy life, but it doesn’t mean our dogs can’t teach us a few things. 

Start every day with a stretch. They don’t call it “downward dog” for nothing.  

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Dogs take most things in their stride, and so should we. Heavy traffic, bad drivers, a shopper with a complicated checkout—are these worth getting excited over? We’ll still get our chores done. Don’t sweat the small stuff—and the truth is, it’s almost all small stuff.

Forgive quickly. Dogs don’t hold a grudge. When we discipline them or say “no,” they may be momentarily crestfallen, but they don’t carry it into the next minute. They’re ready for the next adventure. Grudges are toxic. Dogs know it’s healthier to let it go and so should we.

Greet loved ones with a hug and kiss. When I get home, my dogs welcome me home like it’s the Fourth of July. Dogs always take the time to greet us happily, tails wagging; they’re always in a great mood. Do we take a minute to welcome our loved ones home with a big hug and kiss? Why not start today?

Enjoy every bite. Of food, that is. Healthy dogs eat with gusto and prefer to share meals with their pack. How many of us rush through dinner, not even sitting at the table? Has dinner with the family fallen victim to busy schedules? Instead of dinner in front of the computer or standing at the counter, or worse, texting, why not sit at the table together as much as possible? It’s worthwhile to take time to appreciate and enjoy every morsel of the fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and other goodies we’ve prepared, not to mention the good company of loved ones.

Touch is important. Dogs love to be petted and even ask for it. They know that human touch is relaxing and healing. Do we touch –our children, spouses, friends, pets—enough? I’ll bet not.

It’s all about play. My dogs love to play: chase, fetch, keep-away. Play supports good mental and physical health, and we humans do too little of it. We’re too busy working, paying bills and taking care of responsibilities. Playing ball or a game with kids, playing cards with each other—just laughing and having a good time—fall by the wayside. Now's the time to change that. Chores will still get done if we take a few minutes out of the day to play.

Dogs enjoy the gift of every moment, making their lives and ours richer. While we train dogs to follow our lead, on this, we'd be smart to follow theirs.

What has your dog taught you?

Carol Cassara blogs daily on living your best life at middle-aged-diva.blogspot.com. Her dogs and their antics appear regularly there.

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John L Smith May 24, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Great article and life tips, but....isn't the photo model dog Riley Cassara??!
stacy May 24, 2011 at 07:27 PM
My pooch has taught me: 1) play with complete abandon. 2) love like there's no tomorrow. 3) when in doubt, just be cute.
Brittany Patterson May 24, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Cute article. I would say many of these apply to my kitties who teach me great life lessons: mainly that you can never have too much sleep.
Tracy Sestili May 24, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Great article and some great lessons to heed. Thanks!
Carol A. Cassara May 25, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Stacy: I love #3 especially! as you can tell, my dogs are also into that lesson. Brittany: I have had many kitties who have wished I could learn that same life lesson. Tracy: thank you! John: oh, did you recognize him? Mayra: we want photos!!!


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