Five Healthy Lessons We Can Learn from Our Dogs

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You don’t have to own a dog — or even like dogs, for that matter — to appreciate their qualities. No, I’m not talking about the fact that they can (sometimes) sit on command, or that they bring a sense of security to a home. I don’t think we should become the less superior species and start barking at everyone we pass or we should start sniffing strangers. I do, however, see how our complex society can subtly strip us of several humane qualities that dogs uphold.

Ironically, humans exhibit animalistic behaviors sometimes more than the less intelligent animals themselves. We train our dogs, but in reality, maybe we should be taking a few notes from them. We snarl and snap at each other and insist on having bigger and better toys. Why can’t we find the enthusiasm for the simpler things in life, like our dogs?

Empathy

Someone once told me that if people possessed the ability to feel for one another, half of the problems in the world would diminish. And whether that is true or not, there is no denying the power of empathy. Science may reflect otherwise, but if you have a dog, you might notice the times when it seems like they understand what you’re feeling.

If you just went through a breakup or lost your job, you might find yourself moping, pondering your next move. Depending on your dog, you might find your furry companion right there beside you, absorbing your negativity, preparing for when you decide it’s time to smile.

Be grateful

There might be times when we find ourselves immersed in our shallowness, concerned with luxurious clothes, jewelry, cars and titles. But dogs don’t look too much into anything. When you buy your dog a brand new toy, let’s face it, that $2 ball is just as fantastic as the $2 ball you bought last week. The ball doesn’t need to be bigger nor a designer brand. It’s the same ball and your dog will carry the same enthusiasm for it because dogs are grateful for everything.

Don’t wear your scars

So many dogs still have the ability to love even after bouncing from home to home. I know that if I was shipped off to the pound on several occasions, I would start to question things and would definitely have my guard up. Yet, dogs still manage to have zest and excitement for life. Regardless of the size of our problems, we should look forward to the excitement in life rather than bog ourselves down in our troubles.

See the positive in everything

Even though the speech centers dogs have differ from our own, they still manage to communicate. When you get home from work, who is waiting for you? It doesn’t matter that your dog has been waiting the entire day to see your face, what matters is that moment when you arrive home. Even throughout slumps and downturns, there are always moments that make everything worth it — it’s just about seeing the positive in everything.

Be a good friend

There’s a reason that dogs are called man’s (or woman’s) best friend. This term was probably derived from the fact that dogs have the ability to be companions, lifesavers and support systems. Loyalty seeps from every aspect of your relationship with your dog.

This how you should handle personal relationships as well. Instead of basing your friendship on what you get out of a relationship, consider putting everything you have into one. Make the friendship about the other person rather than yourself.

When my beloved 15-year-old Bichon, Chloe, recently died, I naturally grieved. But as time passes, instead of getting easier, in some ways, it’s getting more difficult. Why? It’s not just her physical presence that I miss; it’s that deep and real emotional attachment and the continuous reminders of how to live life.

If you pay close attention, there are valuable – and healthy – lessons we can all learn from our dogs.

Forgiveness

 Ignore your dog scold them cut their walk shortâ feed them stinky food leave them with strangers when you go on vacation. Dogs hold no grudges; they simply move on. Healthy benefit: Living in the moment and letting go of negative feelings contributes to less stress, lower blood pressure and more happiness, which is a boost to your immune system.

Focus

 When dogs have a job to do, they give that job their upmost attention. Throw a ball, and they’ll chase it – not remember mid-task that they have to go chew their bone instead. That can wait. And when they do finally chew that bone, they lie down and focus just on that bone. Healthy benefit: Since it’s been found that multitasking is counter-productive – affecting your attention and memory – it makes sense that focusing on one task at a time will benefit you and make you feel calmer and more accomplished.

Nap

 Dogs know when they need to rest – and they honor that need. They don’t ignore it because they have other things to do, or feel guilty about napping in the middle of the day. They get comfy, settle in, and sleep deeply. Healthy benefit: Studies show that napping has a host of benefits, from lowering the risk of dying from heart disease to enhancing alertness and performance.

Stretch

 Dogs rarely get up from a sitting position without stretching first – usually a series of deep, gentle and luxurious stretches, at that. Healthy benefit: Stretching not only relieves stress, it also keeps your body limber and improves muscle strength and flexibility.

Smile

 Okay, maybe dogs don’t smile (although I swear mine did), but a wag of the tail is a reliable substitute for it. Dogs express themselves without hesitation or self-consciousness. Healthy benefit: Happy people have younger hearts and arteries, lower blood pressure and a longer life expectancy than unhappy folks; plus they’re better equipped to deal with pain and stress. Many experts say that the mere act of smiling results in making you feel happy, even if you weren’t before you turned the corners of your mouth upward.

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