Dogs are so smart
What my dogs have taught me has made a huge impact on my life. People don’t often give their dogs much credit for teaching, but I think maybe dogs are better teachers than we are.
People get frustrated if they try to teach someone something, and they don’t get it right away. Dogs tend to take a more laid back approach. They will usually just calmly show you something until you eventually get it.
Take break time, for example. When Quinn thinks it’s time for a break so she can go out, she starts by staring at me. She brings me the ball. Then she starts to get vocal. After a little while, I figure out that she wants me to take a break, go out, and play ball. The next time, when she stares at me, I am more likely to realize that I need a break, and she’s ready to play ball before she has to resort to getting loud.
This is how one of my dogs taught me that her signal for me taking a break and her going outside to play is staring at me. She didn’t yell at me. She didn’t get frustrated. She just consistently showed me until I got it.
Sure, they don’t talk. And unless it’s Quinn wanting to get me outside for another session of ball, they don’t usually have an agenda. But in their matter-of-fact way, they teach a great deal.
Think back for a couple of minutes. In what ways have dogs changed you, taught you, or helped you? I’ll bet there are many examples, a few of which stick in your memory. There are probably even more that you don’t remember but still affect you. How much do you REALLY know about your relationship with dogs?
Lessons from dogs
I’ve had dogs in my life since birth. I could tell you their names, colors, breeds, and roughly when they were in my life. But as a child, I didn’t notice how they acted or if they had thoughts or feelings. This realization happened over time. As I’ve learned more about them, I’ve also learned more from them.
Be persistent. During this time, I learned my first lesson from my dogs; to keep trying. My parents didn’t want dogs on the “good” furniture. So our little chihuahua, Cheetah, wasn’t allowed past the family room and kitchen.
But now and then, she’d cross the line and creep a little farther each time. Eventually, she had the run of the house. And we were all much happier because of that fact. No more “bad dog” because she was in the living room.
Dogs don’t work themselves to exhaustion. While, like Quinn, some dogs are really high drive and can do their thing seemingly endlessly, all dogs seem to know how to take a nap when they want/need to. And if there is a sun puddle, they’re likely to nap IN it. I could really benefit from that one sometimes. My dogs have taught me that I’ll have to work on it.
Dogs live in the moment. Have you ever noticed how dogs always notice stuff? Even when you aren’t paying attention, they are. They don’t get distracted by their worries. And they don’t get so involved with something on TV or in social media that they forget about you.
If you get up to leave the room, they notice. Having herding dogs, they usually follow me wherever I’m going. When I absent-mindedly reach for a snack, they’re right there underfoot just in case I drop something. When I pick up my car keys, they’re ready and waiting in case they get invited to go along.
My dogs have taught me not to be afraid to show my feelings. Dogs are such loving beings. And when they feel it, they show it. Enthusiastically! Likewise, if they’re scared, bored, or on guard. If they don’t like someone, they will let you know. Dogs don’t worry about being polite or socially correct. They just show what they feel.
Words aren’t always necessary. We humans talk. We talk and talk and talk. But do we listen to what people say to us? Do we even pay attention to what we ourselves say? I know I’m guilty of not listening from time to time. We use so many words that usually don’t help anything and may even hurt.
Dogs, not being able to speak words, communicate in other ways. I think that makes their communication both more simple and also more complex.
While they are using body posture or sounds or maybe even their mental powers to convey a message, there are layers to that message. In order to get it, you have to look deeper. My dogs have taught me this.
Dogs don’t worry about time. Yes, they think about breakfast or dinner time, when you’ll be home, etc. But they don’t rush around the house because they’re late for something. I do.
It can be a little frustrating when I’m running late and need to let them go potty. They don’t hurry. They just do their business. Then they come in. How nice it would be to just do what needs to be done and then move on instead of watching the clock?
What my dogs have taught me
Because of my dogs, I’m learning to look deeper. Instead of seeing color, size, or other features, I’m learning the value of observing and connecting. If they are scared, bored, happy, whatever, it’s written all over them. All I have to do is watch and I’ll see it. Other areas in life are that way too.
When I look back, I can remember all kinds of things that I’ve learned from my dogs. What my dogs have taught me has made me a better person. And I didn’t even realize they were doing it. What have your dogs taught you? Tell me in the comments below.
For more about the life of a dog lover, read Confessions of a dog lover, A day in the life of Quinn, or read the post about my new book, “Know Your Dog.” You can also check on Amazon for any of the amazing animal lover books they have available.