By Dr. Becker
As most dog parents know, sharing life with a canine companion tends to make you a better human.
Dogs have a way of making us commit to a daily routine. Meals, walks, playtime and bedtime either happen on schedule, or your four-legged friend lets you know about it. Our furry friends can also help us learn patience, and how to live in the moment.
8 Ways Your Dog Makes You Better, Inside and Out
1. You've Gone From Hitting the Snooze Button (Repeatedly) to Early Riser
Your dog, like all healthy dogs, isn't a fan of sleeping in — even on weekends and holidays. At the crack of dawn, your canine pal is up and at 'em, ready to take on the day. (Right after breakfast, of course, which should be served promptly at 6:00 AM. You knew that, right?)
The good news is there are few things lovelier than the sight of a wagging tail and big doggy grin as soon as you open your eyes each day. And as an added bonus, if you and your pet use the early morning hours to get in a brisk walk or jog, you're both healthier for the fact that your pooch is an early bird!
2. You've Learned That Patience Really IS a Virtue
There's much truth to this old saying, and you learned it well when you set out to house train your dog and teach her some basic obedience skills. The thing is, dogs are always tuned into our moods, including when we're feeling frustrated or impatient.
As anyone who's ever tried to train a dog can attest, the best way to achieve the opposite result of the one you want is to get short-tempered with your furry student.
Your dog will respond by being uncooperative, and not because she's trying to test you. She knows she's not making you happy, but she doesn't know why, or what to do next.
After some trial and error (and puddles on your floor), you learned that indeed, patience is its own reward (another old saying). Now you have a nicely housetrained pup who comes when she's called and sits on command.
3. You've Learned What It Means to be Accountable
It's one thing to be responsible for taking care of you. It's another thing entirely to accept the obligation of caring for another living creature.
And the living creature in your household happens to be 100 percent dependent on you for virtually everything, from his daily meals to his potty walks to playtime, veterinary visits, and training.
Without you, your furry charge would quite literally perish. It's a big deal to take care of pet, and dogs are a special challenge because they require a high degree of commitment.
Be sure to give yourself credit for the great job you do caring for your canine companion!
4. Your Daily Routine Has Become as Predictable as the Sunrise
Long gone are the days when you hung out on the couch in your pjs till noon, or didn't make it home from work till 9:00 or 10:00 PM. Your dog has many needs, including the need for consistency, and as a committed pet parent, you attend to those needs on a dependable schedule, 24/7/365.
Fortunately, it's all good when we create daily habits that benefit both those we love and ourselves. You're probably spending more time outdoors since adopting your four-legged pal. You're probably also getting more exercise. And time spent bonding with your pup lowers both your stress level and hers.
5. You've Created a Household Budget
Dog ownership isn't cheap! You now have another mouth to feed (and his diet is top-notch, of course), veterinary visits to schedule and puppy or obedience classes to pay for. You also can't resist all the doggy essentials and luxuries your little guy deserves (e.g., collars, leashes, toys, adorable ID tags, beds, toys, bandanas, sweaters, toys, etc.).
With all the extra expenses involved in pup parenting, you quickly found it necessary to track your spending and stick to a monthly budget to insure your furry friend has everything he needs.
6. You've Become More Homebody and Less Social Butterfly
Pre-dog, you were never one to turn down an invitation for a drink after work or a weekend getaway. Now that you're a pup parent, you're home a lot more — a lot more.
It just doesn't feel right to come home after eight or 10 hours at the office, only to leave again as your furry best friend stands at the door, head cocked, watching you go. As for weekends, they've become doggy-and-me time! You and your four-legged pal are together, whether at home or on the road.
7. You've Learned to Just "Be"
Dogs live in the moment. Most humans don't. We spend considerable time feeling regret for something in the past, or feeling anxious about the future. It's not constructive, but most of us tend to live outside the present moment. Your dog, by example, helps you stay present — to live for today. She experiences each moment as it arrives with enthusiasm and joy, and so do you when you follow her lead.
8. You've Made Lots of New Dog-Loving Acquaintances
Dogs are people-magnets. When you're out and about with a friendly dog, many people naturally gravitate to you because there's something non-threatening about a person with a dog. Whether it's a walk around the block, a visit to the dog park or a hike in the mountains with your pooch, it seems a whole new world of friendships has opened up to you.
And dog-owner friends are great to have, because you can share referrals on, for example, the nearest holistic veterinarian, certified animal behaviorist or the best groomer in town. You can also set up play dates for your dogs, and you might even find someone you truly trust with whom to share dog-sitting duties!