While I love all animals, dogs are my favorite. And from watching my sweet puppies, I’ve picked up on a few important lessons.
1. Be Kind
Dogs just want to love and play. On days when a person doesn’t feel appreciated, a dog will fix that right up. I think we all could work on letting people know we appreciate them. It would make the world a much better, happier place.
2. Love Unconditionally
A dog loves without asking anything in return. People can’t and shouldn’t do that to the extent dogs do, but we also shouldn’t treat life like a financial transaction. Sometimes, you will give without getting anything in return. And it will be completely worth it.
3. Accept Unconditional Love
Dogs never question whether their people love them. Sometimes, it’s hard for people to believe that someone could love them “no matter what,” as my parents say. In reality, though, everyone needs to experience unconditional love. It means there is one constant in a life full of uncertainty.
4. Family is Everything
A dog’s family is his or her whole world. People often don’t spend as much time with family as they’d like to, or they don’t tell family “I love you” often enough. Changing that would lead to much healthier, fuller relationships for everyone.
5. Appreciate What You Have
Dogs get excited about everything. Food, toys, their people coming inside after five seconds getting the mail. I can’t help but think we’d be a lot happier if we incorporated a bit of that wonder into our own lives.
There’s no reason to be serious all the time. Sometimes, it’s important to have fun. Color, watch a dumb movie, buy a bunch of candy for no reason—whatever your equivalent is to running around like crazy with a chew toy.
Dogs tend to be expert nappers. At my house, our oldest dog is queen of the couch. Society conditions us to believe that productivity is the single most important measure of a person’s success. Sleep deprivation is worn as a badge of honor. But occasionally, a long nap under a warm blanket is exactly what a person needs. Maybe we should take a cue from dogs and listen to what our body is telling us.
While dogs can’t speak, they can communicate what they need or want. For example, if a dog’s food bowl is empty, the dog might nudge it towards his or her owner to say “I’m hungry.” If a dog growls, that means “I don’t like what you’re doing right now, please stop.” I’ve noticed people often don’t say what they need, because they don’t want to appear weak or whiny. However, a lot of problems could be avoided if people were honest about how something made them feel, or when they really need to rest.