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Dogs can teach owners how to live better lives

Dogs are great teachers about life
Dogs are great teachers about life
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For most dog owners, dogs are not pets but rather are family members. Besides being constant, kind companions providing each owner with unconditional love, these beloved family members can teach humans some valuable lessons about being happier, better and well-balance human beings.

Live in the moment: Have you stopped to realize how dogs live in the moment? They don’t lie around regretting the past or spend any time worrying about the future. Humans should try to live in the present moment; in reality, it is all that is real. The past will never come again and there’s no guarantee of the future. If more attention was placed on each present moment, life could be richer, similar to the richness a dog experiences throughout their day.

Celebrate every day: Dogs celebrate life’s simplest events. Every meal is the best meal, just as every game or toy they play with is also the absolute best. Walks, even the same route day after day, bring delight and joy. Human days would be brighter if ordinary events are seen as gifts - the gift of life.

Speak directly and consistently: When speaking or issuing commands to your dog, it’s important to be clear, concise and consistent. If communications are unclear, inconsistent or confusing, dogs become confused. When speaking with others, whether it is family, friends or co-workers, use clear, concise communication skills. The tone of delivery is as important. How you speak to your dog or fellow mankind sets the tone for how you are treating them, and as important, how well they are likely to respond and treat you.

Trust instincts: Dogs can tell how their human is feeling – not based on words, but based on non-verbal cues, such as energy level, body language, tears, stomping - the actions beneath the surface. The same is true when assessing friends or family. A person doesn’t have to use words to express how their feeling; we are also able to read what’s going on with another by reading nonverbal cues. Trust your instincts.

Strive to live a balanced life: Create a stable, balanced environment for your dog. Include exercise, bonding time, a regular feeding schedule and consistent discipline. As important, develop a balanced routine for your own life. Just as dogs require proper exercise and nutrition, humans also benefit from a work-life balance. Balance each day with a time to work, time to relax and time to give and receive love on a daily basis.

Listen: Dogs listen: to owners, to sounds outside, to sounds inside the house, they take time to pay attention and listen. When someone is speaking, give them an undivided ear. Listening doesn’t require trying to solve an issue, fix a problem or to take everything said personally, however, allowing a person to know they are being heard is a gift you may share.

Let go of grudges: When there is a pack of dogs in conflict, the members solve the problem and move on. Dogs don’t carry grudges and neither should humans. If conflicts were dealt with as they happened and weren’t allowed to escalate, a more peaceful world could evolve. If humans followed the lead of dogs and chose to not hold on to grudges, we could move forward.

Live with purpose: Dogs act out when they are bored. They may become destructive or aggressive. When provided a purpose, dogs create a peaceful day. Dogs require something to do – play with toys, run in the yard, be taken on a walk, something to break up the boredom. Unlike dogs, humans must work for food, water and shelter, but find outlets allowing more than the tedium of going through the motions of work simply for survival. Identify volunteer opportunities, learn a new sport, find a hobby and you’ll feel better about yourself.

Dogs are amazing creatures. They know unconditional love and when time is taken to determine what makes a dog a pleasant family member, the insights listed above may offer ideas on how we can improve each day and learn from our dogs.

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