Being around your beloved pup does more than make you happy. It makes you a better person! The way you approach and care for your dog has more effects on you than you think. Being a good owner helps you change habits and perspectives for the better, so here are seven ways your dog makes you a better person!
1. You become more responsible
Even though you’re (probably) a full-fledged adult, even if you think you’ve already learned the basics of responsibility, there are some awesome side effects of the commitment you show when caring for your dog. Yes, you obviously feed and walk them, but having a dog also helps you get into a routine. Being responsible for a dog means building flexibility, and keeps you going even when you don’t want to crawl out of bed on a cold, snowy morning. No matter how bad you want to collapse onto the couch after a hard day’s work to relax, you know how important it is to your dog that you walk them. You take care of your dog, staying stocked up on the best foods and treats, working your pup into your routine, and being flexible if something comes up and your pup needs some extra care and attention one day.
By recognizing and responding to your dog’s needs, both routine and random, you learn to consistently care about and focus on a prioritized task. In other words, yes, your dog did indeed teach you all about responsibility!
2. You communicate better
Truly mastering the art of knowing what your dog is saying is a feat in itself. By knowing how to look for the specific signs and signals your dog gives you, it tells you how they’re feeling and what their needs are at any given moment. The more time you spend actively and purposefully detecting and interpreting these subtle signs, the more likely you are to notice them in your dog on a regular basis.
Even though doggy body language is a lot different from us speaking-and-writing humans, learning to recognize these communications in your dog also makes it easier to pick up on subtle signs from the people around you. You might pay a little bit more attention to things like body language and tone of voice. In other words, you learn to automatically seek out more subtle communication.
When it comes to talking back to your dog, a strong ability to communicate goes a long way! Training sessions see much more success. Your dog learns tricks more quickly with clearer communication. Learning to give clear directions and recognize their thought process and actions across species is an incredible feat, and is also great when applied to your human companions!
Of course you (probably) aren’t teaching your co-worker, spouse, or child to sit and shake, but the clear communication aspects still apply. Telling your dog to do a trick over and over doesn’t work. You learn that instead of only repeating a goal, you can give clear and concise directions and eliminate any unnecessary fluff. You learn how to take a mistake in the process and adjust your approach to facilitate success when teaching a new skill. When your dog (or a person) doesn’t understand something, you may find it easier to identify miscommunications and include new information you didn’t think to share before. Finally, even by just recognizing that others may not always know the same things that you do, working together to bridge that gap is effective in any species!
3. You improve your patience and forgiveness
However, the more times you decide to just take a deep breath and offer your pup the chance to do better, you’re more likely to demonstrate self-control in other situations in the future! This doesn’t just apply to dealing with a not-yet-mature doggo. Exercising self-control and patience with your dog easily bleeds over into other areas of your life. You may become more tolerant of tricky situations like a malfunctioning printer at work or a dropped dish shattered on the floor. You’ll stay a little more level-headed and instead of wasting time and energy getting mad, you’ll jump right into thinking of how to solve the problems before you. Rolling with the punches makes going through life a lot easier!
Your dog also teaches you about forgiveness. Puppy eyes certainly help, and it’s hard to stay mad at a pup who honestly didn’t know they did something wrong. By practicing patience and forgiveness with your dog, you solidify that concept and are more likely to approach other situations in your life the same way.
4. You have better exercise and mental health
Part of being an excellent dog owner is making sure your dog gets enough exercise. Get some sunshine! I know if it wasn’t for my dog Cookie, I probably wouldn’t be going outside for some fresh air on a regular basis. Obviously, when you’re walking your dog, you’re also benefiting from the exercise. These days, any chance we get to move around and stretch our legs should be taken! Walks with your dog are also a great opportunity to spend time in nature. Being out and about in a beautiful area does wonders for your health, so walking your dog is great in more ways than one!
Your dog also has a huge boost to your mental health. Petting and cuddling your dog releases endorphins in your brain that help you feel happier and calmer. It helps ground you in the here and now and reminds you to slow down for a while. Having a dog also helps you ward off loneliness. It’s no fun to be all alone, but loneliness has also been linked to a higher risk of depression and other mental illnesses. When your dog acts as your loyal companion, the benefits are much bigger than you may have thought. Finally, spending time with your dog increases mindfulness. You slow down and let go of anything that was cluttering your mind, even if it’s only for a short while. This reduces overall stress levels, which also promotes better health.
Dog owners also tend to be physically healthier overall. They have less stress, a lower risk for cardiovascular issues, and in seniors, have improved cognitive and social skills. They even tend to live a longer lifespan! All for the low/ low cost of some dog food and snuggles, it’s a fantastic trade-off for sure.
5. You learn the importance of play
It’s easy to fall into the routine of a daily grind. Wake up, get ready for work, labor for 8 hours, come home and try to relax until bed. Sometimes we feel that we have to let go of things we enjoy in order to succeed, or even just get all our tasks for the day done. We overload ourselves with our to-do-lists and by allowing business-related calls and e-mails to invade our free time, resulting in us going to bed feeling like we never clocked out.
Not really the greatest, is it? Lucky for you, having a dog around is a generous, constant reminder of what it’s like to live in the moment. It teaches us how important it is to make time for some fun in our lives! It’s a great way to justify setting aside a few more minutes to play tug of war. Maybe spend a little more time teaching new tricks to your pup. Even just giving them some extra cuddles while you’re sitting on the couch can remind you of the great little moments in life and how important they are. Even if you feel obligated to give up the spare time you had before, your dog is always high on the priority list and ensures that you still have a few minutes every day set aside for being with a loving friend.
Your dog also makes it easier to find the humor in little situations. Someone else may be disgusted at the thought of dog drool, but you simply giggle and joke around about how excited your pup must be! When you hear your dog burp you can’t help but laugh because the weird little noise never gets old. Even watching your dog’s ears perk up when they hear that special word. “Outside!” you shout as your dog wiggles its whole body, all excited and barely able to contain their anticipation. Any chance we have to smile, we should take it! And our dogs definitely give us countless opportunities to have some fun.
6. You improve your self esteem
No matter how self-conscious you are, you know that your dog won’t judge you. Even if you don’t have the latest technology, the best sense of fashion, or even if you eat your burritos sideways. Your dog doesn’t even know what silly human things you might feel bad about. All your pup knows is that it loves you!
Working with your pup is a great way to improve its own confidence. When your dog learns new words and what they mean, it feels more self sufficient. Teaching your dog to approach new situations is also a huge boost to its comfort and confidence. The same goes for you! Learning more about communication with your dog, recognizing their needs, teaching them new skills, or even feeling good about all the head pats you give them can help your self esteem.
Besides working with your pup, just by knowing you can always depend on your dog to smile at you at the end of the day can help. You can learn to let go of some of the silly things that would normally make you feel nervous or self-conscious and focus on how awesome your dog thinks you are!
7. It teaches you to love unconditionally
What has your dog taught you?
Whether it’s something on this list, or a new lesson you’ve gotten from your pooch, we’d love to know! Thanks again for reading, stay happy and healthy, and I look forward to writing for you next week!