Health & Wellbeing
5 Life Lessons to Learn From Your Dog
Pet lifestyle expert Serena Faber-Nelson is the founder of Pretty Fluffy. A contributor to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Modern Dog Magazine, Cesars Way and more; her modern, stylized take on DIY dog treats has seen her recipes viewed millions of times over.
Serena is the author of the go-to dog mom bible, Dog Mama, and the popular dog treat recipe book, Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.
In today’s internet world we can find the answer to any question with a simple Google search. We can follow 300 different self-help gurus and download 25 new ebooks a day. But some of life’s best lessons don’t require wifi. They are simple, profound and found inside our home. I’m guessing they may even be found sitting right next to you.
I find that when life gets a little too hard, I’m frazzled from impending deadlines or stressed about going through a big life change my dog can always bring me back to my center.
He is home.
And I’m not alone in this. It seems that everyone’s dog is a guru in something.
So here are 5 life lessons we can learn from our dogs…
1. Live in the present moment
Dogs are always living in the moment. Other than conditioning they don’t have long term memories and it’s not in them to worry about the future. The present is where they will always be.
Although it’s more complicated for us this is a lesson we can take from them daily. When you’re with your dog really be WITH your dog. Dedicate 20 minutes every day to give them undivided attention.
Play tug without the TV on in the background. Go for a walk and turn your phone off. Letting your dog be a reminder to live in the present moment is a great place to start practicing the habit. Soon you’ll find it’s carry over into other areas of your life.
2. Get some activity and make sure to stretch.
It’s well known that dogs need exercise. They are happier and more well behaved when they’ve gotten their energy out in a healthy way. But have you ever noticed how they’ll get activity any way possible? Whether we like it or not they’re going to get some movement. This shows up in zoomies around the living room, amplified fetch indoors and extra hard tugs on the rope. They know how important activity is to their well being.
Lil will bring her fetch ball and bark until it’s thrown. She’s got a tight back after all these years so she makes sure to stretch every time she gets up and before she gets comfy in her bed. Keeping her body limber and warm is essential to her mobility. If we followed the activity patters of dogs we’d move no matter what. We wouldn’t put so much pressure on exercise or impose to many barriers to getting to the gym. We’d just move our bodies daily in whatever way works. Since following their lead I’ve seen positive changes in my mood and body.
3. Keep it simple.
Dogs are simple creatures even though we give them complex thoughts and emotions because they feel so human to us. In reality they don’t need much.
Little Lil is more than pleasedwith dinner at 4:00 sharp, a full water dish, her ball and her perch to look out the window. She has a happy dog smile on her face daily when those 4 needs are met. She doesn’t need a new bed cover every season, the latest technology water dish that fills up on a timer or to make sure she catches the last episode of her favorite show. She keeps it simple and that simplicity keeps her content. That contentment allows her to be fully present and fully happy with whatever she’s doing and whomever she’s with.
4. Forgive and let it go.
Lil lives a posh life. She’s got a perch by the window to keep neighborhood watch, two doting parents that treat her like a queen and a chew stick that will last her a lifetime. But sometimes her parents need to leave her at home for hours while they work or leave her with family while they travel. It’s not her favorite thing in the world, but it has to happen. And sometimes they need to give her medicine or keep her safe from harm when she wants to roam free. Although it makes her unhappy Lil is quick to forgive and get right back to playing fetch. No grudges from this girl she can let it go in an instant.
If our dogs can forgive us almost daily and let it go in a matter of a moment, why do we hold grudges for years? We change and grow and adapt and improve so why can’t we give that same credit to others.
5. Love Out Loud.
The BEST part of having a dog is their unconditional love and companionship. They don’t play games with our emotions or withhold affection because of a grudge. They don’t even know the word grudge.
It makes my heart happy that Watson doesn’t hold back from loving us fully. Big puppy grins, cuddles, a paw on our leg while we’re watching TV. He loves out loud and always. I can’t count on him – no matter what mood I’m in or day I’ve had – to show me the love that I always need to feel. It’s a love every human needs in their life. So why do we have such trouble showing it to others? Why is it hard to say it sometimes? Let’s take our dog’s leads and hug harder, say the words more, give without condition and just show love in anyway we know how. Big, out loud, always.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: KATIE OF THE SMALL CHANGE PROJECT
Watson’s mom Katie is a Lifestyle Designer and Relationship Enthusiast who is the creator of The Small Change Project. Lil’s mom Jina is not your typical wellness guru who is the brains behind The Happy Healthy Truth. They also happen to be best friends and business partners. They bonded over long walks with their dogs and eventually collaborated on a 2-day live event called Lifestyle Design Camp.