5 Things You Can Learn From Your Dog That Will Increase Your Wellbeing
It’s no secret that owning a dog can benefit your health. It helps your heart (in more ways than one), keeps you active, reduces stress (most days!), fights off depression, and on and on.
If I went into every tiny detail that dogs teach us in the short time that we’re lucky enough to share our lives with them, this would be an extremely long post. When dogs bounce into our lives, they guide us into embracing the good parts of life -- even if we don’t realize it right away. They teach us about unconditional love, the importance of accepting ourselves, how freeing it is to actually live in the moment, that relaxation is key to not biting someone’s head off, and contentment is the magic key.
As Moby once said, “Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach.” So, if dogs were our life coach, what are some of the things we could learn from them that would help us lead a fuller life?
Live in the present
Do you think dogs are ever running through their endless to-do lists in their heads? Think they’re overwhelmed with all of the things they have to do that day or even that week? That they keep replaying that simple comment they made to a friend about their new outfit that wasn’t overly flattering on them?
Nope. Most times, dogs are only overwhelmed when there are too many new smells at one time. And even then, the only thing they’re thinking about, is the now.
Researchers have found that people who live in the present are more content and less stressed (both emotionally and physically) than people who are constantly thinking about the future or holding onto the past. When you’re not worrying about the future (even the immediate future) your brain can focus more on the task at hand allowing you to be more productive. You appreciate what’s going on around you because you’re paying more attention and just taking it all in. Stop and smell the roses and all that.
Do your happy dance
Unless we’re uber excited about something that has happened in our lives, we tend to suppress our excitement and act cool. Why? Why not take a cue from our furry friend and fully express your joy? Jump up and down, let that big grin loose, run in circles, shout your excitement, hug and kiss a loved one. Excitement increases your endorphins which helps to reduce the feeling of stress by creating a feeling of euphoria and well being. So, go ahead, wag that tail and let it all out!
Choose to be happy
Sure, dogs don’t have the daily responsibilities that we humans have such as work, paying bills, and commitment overload. But they’re there to remind us to take a deep breath and that it will be ok.
They remind us to not harbour resentment or negativity. Holding onto the fact that your partner rubbed you the wrong way three days ago isn’t going to make anybody any happier. Dogs don’t sulk to their room and not hang with you for the rest of the evening just because you didn’t share that last piece of bacon with them. They may shoot you a dirty look on occasion, but that’s about the extent of it.
Life’s too short to not be happy. Happiness is not only good for the mind, but also extends to the physical body. Unhappy people are almost three times as likely to develop the common cold compared to happier people. People who work on being happy are faced with less stress, which keeps their immune system healthier and they deal with less aches and pains.
Exercise of any kind feels great
A walk. A game of tug-of-war. A game of ball. A hike. A bike ride. Dogs are up for anything that gets their body moving and their energy out. Even as they begin to slow down as age creeps up on them, they’re still young at heart and will never, ever turn down a stroll with their favorite pal.
As with being free with your excitement, exercise releases those oh-so-awesome endorphins that make us feel great from the inside out. It’s been said that people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise. And your doggo also has your back here -- there’s no way they’re letting you exercise for that small amount of time!
Your dog doesn’t feel that they’re not smart enough, or pretty enough, or slim enough. They’re content just being themselves. Happy, silly, grumpy, or even a little blue. They own it. They just go with it knowing that they’re pretty cool just as they are. They don’t compare themselves to the Poodle two houses up who has the fancy new hairdo and wish they had the new pink bow that she’s sporting.
In this day and age it’s not just trying to keep up with the Joneses’. It’s keeping up with the Kardashians and everything that goes along with social media jealousy. It’s time to stomp on the green-eyed envy beast. Self acceptance is happiness. The more you accept yourself, the more happiness you allow into your life.
Show people you love them
It’s physically impossible to not smile when you arrive home and see that someone is so excited to see you that they run to greet you. Eager to hear all about your day. Even if you had a rough day, it’s forgotten for a short period of time during that embrace when you walk through the door. Dogs are never too busy for someone. If you’re happy to see someone, tell them. Put down your phone (the internet isn’t going anywhere), stop your chores for a minute (those dishes aren’t going anywhere) and go welcome them home, have a chat, or just sit and hang. Showing your appreciation for someone makes them feel valued and special and you feel good. And of course, the dog is ecstatic so it’s a win-win-win situation.
Life is short
We bring dogs into our lives and our home knowing that, most likely, they unfortunately won’t be with us for the duration of our lifetime. We appreciate, love and take care of them and they become an integral part of the family. And they enjoy every day to the fullest while they can. Nobody knows what life has in store for us or what’s around the next corner. So, follow your dog's lead. Happiness may take a bit more work for us than it does for them but work to enjoy each day and aim for few regrets and you’ll be in almost as good a spot as your pup. Do you think your doggo regrets burying that bone in the perfect spot in the backyard that he was never able to find again? Nah, that’s long forgotten about when the next bone came along.
Learn to relax
I’m not saying that you need to sleep 16 hours a day (though your dog may offer a different opinion), but making time to relax and rejuvenate will have a snowball effect on the other areas of your life. When we don’t get enough relaxation or are overly agitated, we get stressed which can result in lashing out. Getting enough rest and taking some much needed “me time” helps decrease stress, anxiety and depression. In return, we are calmer and have more patience for things that life throws at us.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what these lovable, silly, amazing, understanding creatures bring into our lives and bless us with. If we could put into action even an inkling of these things into our own lives, we’d be giving our furry friends a big ol’ edible thank you treat.
This Blog was written by Andrea Rowe.
Andrea is a creative copywriter, fault-finding copyeditor, and passionate content creator who helps businesses nail their message so they can scale to wherever their dreams may take them. Oh! And a binge-watching, animal-loving coffee addict. https://www.instagram.com/copyandrea/