Pet owners who are fortunate to live with a dog know that dogs have much to teach their owners. Dogs are fabulous teachers—if owners take the time to pay attention to them and their lessons. Here are six lessons that people can learn from dogs:
Actions speak louder than words.
Dogs are superb observers of behavior. Not a word is spoken, yet a dog immediately knows when their owner is preparing for a walk. Dogs have mastered the art of observation, and they very quickly catch onto habits and patterns that their owners may not even be aware about. People have said that their dogs know them better than their own spouses! That is not surprising, considering that dogs’ observation skills are superior to humans.
Dogs are far more than their history.
Some dogs have horrible backgrounds. Abuse, neglect, and mistreatment color their past. Dogs live in the now, though: most dogs are able to overcome their past and are able to thrive in a new, loving and nurturing environment. A rescued dog is a dog. Don’t label him as rescued, as that allows his past to define him. He’s your dog, period. Allowing the dog to break free from his past by unlocking him from his past is the best way to honor a dog.
Less is more.
Dog owners tend to prove their love by (over) feeding the dog. Carrying excess weight puts a dog at a disadvantage: heart and skin problems can worsen arthritis complications, lead to Type 2 diabetes, aggravate heart problems and it can shorten a dog’s life. Dogs who are at an ideal weight have fewer health problems and live longer.
A little goes a long way.
When giving a dog a treat or a snack, make the treat as small as possible. Cutting or breaking treats into tiny, pea-sized pieces is a quick and easy way to cut down on calories while extending the budget. If one box of full-size treats lasts a month, cutting those treats into thirds (or even smaller!), will not only make the box last longer, but it can also lead to weight loss for the dog.
Dogs are like snowflakes–no two dogs are alike. It’s inevitable that an owner will compare their previous dog to their current dog. While it’s okay to compare dogs superficially (Fluffy’s coat is so much shinier!), going any deeper and comparing the perfect dog from the past with the dog the owner has now is a slippery slope. Enjoy every dog on his (or her) individual merits, not on how they compare to the dog of the past.
Puzzles are fun!
Dogs depend on their owners for everything: when they can go outside, mealtimes, walks, health care…everything! Life can get pretty boring for a dog. Make life fun by setting up puzzles: feed the dog his dinner by putting food into food-stuffable toys. The dog gets to exercise his brain while figuring out how to get each little morsel out of the toy. Food stuffable toys serve two purposes: food and entertainment!
Thankfully, the more time spent with dogs, the more they will teach their owners. The learning goes both ways, of course: owners teach dogs essential skills like polite manners and the dogs, in turn, teach owners some valuable life lessons. Together, dogs and their people make a terrific team. Enjoy the time spent together and the lessons shared.