10 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Your Dog

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10 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Your Dog

By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer

Living with a canine companion isn't just fun. It has also been proven to boost your health and happiness. But the true value of dogs doesn't stop there. Here are eight valuable lessons your dog can teach you.

Greet everyone with a smile.

No matter how long or short you've been gone, your dog is always waiting beside the door to greet you--even if you arrive in the middle of the night. Sometimes he might be yawning, having woken up from a nap; other times he might be holding a chew toy in his mouth, having cut play time short to welcome you home. And it always feels great to see him there wagging his tail joyfully at your presence. You can do the same for any family member by turning off the TV or closing the laptop for a few minutes and getting up from wherever you were sitting to say hello and ask how their day was. It's an easy to way to make someone feel appreciated.

Express happiness openly.

When dogs are happy or excited their whole body wiggles with joy. They wag their tails and jump around, unable to contain the emotion. And suddenly that happiness becomes contagious! We can't help but smile and join them in their excitement. The same is true for our human friends. When we express happiness openly, we can spread positivity to everyone around us, even strangers. So, if you're feeling good, smile and let everyone around you share in your joy.

Stop and smell the roses.

Dogs stop to smell just about everything--flowers included. They stay in the moment and explore their surroundings without thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Do you plan every minute of your day? Does allowing yourself to relax make you feel guilty? Too much ongoing stress can lead to health problems, so take a close look at your life and habits and find ways to destress, like enjoying your walk and using it as a time to practice mindfulness.

Express yourself.

When your dog wants to go outside, she scratches at the back door. When she wants to cuddle, she crawls right up into your lap (and won't take no for an answer). When she wants petted, she lodges her head under your hand. Dogs are great at letting us know what they need in the moment. They don't expect us to read their minds. When they need something, they tell us. Do you do the same with the humans in your life? Or do you expect your spouse to just pick up on your bad mood and be extra nice to you? When you need something, ask for it. You'll be much more likely to get what you want.

Be open to making new friends.

When you take your dog to the park, he probably isn't shy about approaching other dogs. Rather than hanging back by the fence, waiting for someone to notice him, he approaches the nearest animal and introduces himself with a friendly bow or a sniff. If the other dog is receptive, playtime begins. But if the other animal isn't in the mood, your dog moves on to the next likely candidate—no hurt feelings. How many more friends would you have if you put yourself out there more often and didn't take rejection personally?

Forgive and forget.

If you accidentally step on your dog's tail how long does she stay mad at you? 10 seconds? 30? If you come home late from work and have to skip your walk, does your dog get mad and give you the cold shoulder? How might our human relationships improve if we were quick to forgive and let go of grudges? Holding a grudge creates stress for you--not the person who wronged you. Instead of stewing in silence, let a friend know that they hurt your feelings. They'll probably appreciate your honesty. If it's a more difficult or delicate situation, try writing all your feelings out. You don't have to share them with anyone, but acknowledging them will make you feel better.

Don't judge by appearances.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, no mammal comes in as many varieties as the dog. But when a dog meets another canine, she doesn't worry about who his parents were or whether he's bigger or smaller than she is. All she sees is another dog and an opportunity to make a new friend. Dogs approach humans in much the same way. They don't love you any less when you're having a bad hair day or gained a few pounds. They simply don't care. As long as you're there for them, your dog will adore you through good times and bad. When we stop judging everyone around us, we can look at ourselves with more kindness, too.

Be a good listener.

When you're sick, depressed or just having a really bad day, there's nothing more comforting then when a pet lays down beside you just to keep you company. Our companion animals can tell when we're not feeling our best, and they do the one thing the know how to help comfort us: just be there. We can do the same for our friends and family. Sometimes, sitting quietly while a friend talks—without giving advice--is all that's needed. Nothing beats a friendly shoulder (or paw) to cry on.

Always enjoy the journey.

Dogs never get tired of going for car rides. Even if the destination is just the park around the corner, the ride is always exhilarating. They stick their heads out the window and lean into the wind to pick up all the passing smells. Whether your journey is one of working toward weight loss, better health or a more balanced life, you'll be more successful if you focus on the process rather than the final goal.

Don't take yourself too seriously.

Dogs are not only natural clowns, they are completely unselfconscious. They don't care how silly they look running, they just run because it feels good. They don't worry if their fur is mussed, they're ready to leave the house without so much as a glance in the mirror. So the next time you hesitate before trying a new fitness class or going to the gym with no makeup on, just think of your dog. If dogs were allowed in Zumba, they'd be there in a heartbeat.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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11/14/2016 12:19:31 PM

These are great examples. I can hardly look at my dog without smiling for so many reasons.


4/28/2016 1:28:53 PM

KIMMIE1's SparkPage
great things to keep in mind...I love our dogs! They are apart of our family!!!


4/28/2016 12:42:56 PM

SHELL6238's SparkPage
Love this point of view. Need to take some pointers from it :)


7/13/2015 10:35:48 AM

EILEENNP's SparkPage
When I look at my dog, I've often said I'd love to be a dog in our family! Right now he's under my desk laying against my foot!


7/12/2015 5:05:30 PM

Dogs are sure amazing especially in these very ways. Thanks you


7/7/2015 11:32:01 AM

ALLIEREE's SparkPage

eleven good reasons to have a dog or two, and learn from them, Great words of wisdom to follow.


7/6/2015 6:01:24 PM

REESEK65's SparkPage
Like everyone else here, this is another spot on article. I love my dogs more everyday and they continually teach me about unconditional love.


6/28/2015 12:03:28 AM

It was very helpful thanks


10/22/2014 10:54:49 AM

SALLYL15's SparkPage
My husband experienced number 9 in spades a couple of years ago. He had MAJOR surgery to both ankles and was unable to work for about 5-6 months. I was home for the first couple of weeks to take care of him completely, but then I went back to work. (I would take him to his PT appointments and Doctor appointments but he had limited mobility at home so he could manage. He got VERY close to the dog, he always loved her, but she became a big source of comfort to him. Having gotten her as a gift to me, in 2005,( she was 10 wks old) He didn't realize how attached he'd get, I loved her right off, but she zeroed in on him and soon had him wrapped around her paw. We have no children so she is our furry child,( my husband has a grown daughter and refers to the dog as his other daughter. My step-daughter is highly amused by this) Anyway Dogs do so much for us and ask so little in return. I equally love cats too, but my husband has allergies where kitties are concerned.


4/15/2014 10:55:22 AM

1BEARWIFE's SparkPage
Love life, and love one another!


4/13/2014 10:51:09 PM

How true.


4/13/2014 10:15:12 PM

Oh. How very true this is. I laughed all the way through, but every slide gave me food for thought. Thank you Spark


4/13/2014 8:08:16 PM

WLEE25's SparkPage
This is all the truth. I have two dogs and where I go they go. I take them to the park every single day rain or shine because I know that's what they want. I always take them for car rides because I can tell they love it. Great article!


4/13/2014 5:14:20 PM

APONI_KB's SparkPage
don't worry about what anyone thinks of you


2/15/2014 7:37:45 AM

That was great and very true. Thanks!

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