5 Lessons Dogs Can Teach Us About Being Human

With a Ph.D. in psychology and a passion for animals, FlourishAnyway knows animals can teach us more about living healthy, fulfilling lives.

Dogs and the Meaning of Unconditional Love

Until you've been loved by a wet-nosed, tail wagging, slobbery smooching dog, you really haven't known unconditional love. Dogs don't simply greet you at the door after a long day at work. They celebrate your homecoming. Who else truly does that?

And no matter what others think of you, the dog in your life sees you as someone surrounded by an aura of awesomeness. Dogs don't judge you by the amount of money in your bank account, your street cred, or the labels on your clothes. They don't critique your grammar, your manners, or your housekeeping. Like any true friend, they look past all that and simply see . just you.

Dogs can turn a car ride into a Zen moment as the wind slaps at their jowls. They gladly take the blame for passed gas and always share the remote. They understand your troubles better than any therapist and won't charge you a dime for the session (cue the head tilt and comforting nuzzle).

Dogs are our exercise partners, playmates, traveling partners, bedmates, and four-legged children. But did you know they are also teachers? Yep, they have life lessons to share, if you are willing to listen.

5 Lessons We Can Learn From Dogs

  1. Play well with others.
  2. Don't pretend to be something you're not.
  3. Practice forgivemess.
  4. Sniff it out.
  5. Make time for the important stuff.

Reader Poll

Lesson 1. Play Well With Others

Ah, the joy of simply being with friends! Having descended from pack-dwelling grey wolves at least 15,000 years ago, dogs embrace companionship.1 It is believed that inquisitive wolves once searched through human trash sites looking for food. Humans since adopted and tamed wolf pups, and a legendary friendship was born.

If there's one characteristic that describes man's best friend, it's agreeable. Dogs have the unique ability to get along with others so well. As a personality trait, those who are agreeable are

  • Cooperative
  • Trusting
  • Helpful
  • Empathic
  • Appreciative of their interpersonal relationships

Dogs Are Tuned In

Any dog owner can tell you that dogs seem to genuinely care how you are feeling. One study found that dogs are more likely to approach a person who is crying than one who is talking or humming. Dogs respond uniquely to tears in an attempt to comfort us.2 They often seem to be more tuned in to humans than we are to each other.

Research has also shown that dogs can read human intentions by carefully honing in on our eye movements.3 Dogs are so adept at this "doggie ESP" that their skills rival that of children aged six months to two years. Perhaps that is why so many people treat dogs as their offspring.

Humans trust dogs' caring and perceptiveness enough to use them in various service capacities, including

  • Assistance dogs for the visually and hearing impaired ... although interestingly, dogs are effectively red-green colorblind themselves, seeing the world in shades of yellows, blues, and grays.4
  • Seizure alert dogs for sensing their owners' seizures 30 seconds to 45 minutes in advance.5
  • Emotional support dogs for veterans and others experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, or other disabilities.

Humans and the Multiple Benefits of Playing Well With Others

Humans who play well with others may realize many benefits of being agreeable:

  • Being agreeable affects how we respond to medication: One study found that agreeable people benefited more from the placebo effect in response to physical pain.6 A placebo is a substance that objectively does not produce pain relief or other results itself. Instead, the patient's expectations produce desired effects. It is believed that the desire to feel better leads to the release of endorphins, thus creating genuine relief.
  • Agreeable people are happier and more popular: Highly agreeable people are usually happier and have more pleasant everyday lives than those who are less agreeable.7 This includes being happier at work. Not surprisingly, agreeable people are also more popular, as the personality factor involves valuing social harmony above both self-interest and being objective or "correct" in decision making.
  • More agreeable people make more supportive parents: Agreeableness is related to a more positive parenting style—warm, responsive, and nurturing—rather than a power assertive, negatively controlling parenting style.10 Also, agreeable teens are more likely to elicit these reactions from their parents rather than over-reactive parental responses of anger, frustration, meanness, and irritation. (The savvy teen would put this knowledge nugget to work for himself/herself!)
  • Agreeable people are less likely to be obese: Multiple studies have found associations between low agreeableness and the risk for obesity across the adult life span.8 Specifically, agreeable people are less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, a potentially deadly combination of obesity plus any two of the following:9
  • High triglycerides
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting glucose

Are You Agreeable?

A person who is more agreeable is more likely to endorse the following personality statements:

I am interested in people.

I feel others' feelings.

I have a soft heart.

I make people feel at ease.

I sympathize with others’ feelings.

I take time out for others.

I am interested in other people’s problems.

I am really interested in others.

I feel concerns for others.

I don't insult people.

I don't like being isolated.

Downside of Agreeableness

Before you get your tail wagging in constant agreement with the rest of the pack, you should know that being a nice guy does have its limitations, however. Rover would want me to me honest with you.

A primary downside of agreeableness is that agreeable men earn less at work. (There is no significant effect, however, for women.) Across a variety of occupations, agreeable men earn substantially less, compared with their disagreeable coworkers who are self-serving and criticize others' ideas. The less agreeable among us are more likely to challenge existing practices at work and persuade others to the value of their ideas and contributions.

This translates into a significant income advantage. On average, less agreeable men earn more than $10,000 more per year than their more agreeable male peers.11

Consider: "What Would Rover Do?"

The old adage that "Nice guys finish last" is thus really only partially true. Given all the evidence on agreeableness and its impact on health, wealth, and happiness, you thus have a choice regarding how to approach your life.

Next time you're faced with a situation, think about what is most important to you, and then ask yourself, "What Would Rover Do?"

Lesson 2. Don't Pretend to Be Something You're Not

Over 56.7 million American households are lucky enough to have a family dog, and we spend an average of $1,710 annually on their grooming, boarding, food, toys, and food.12 And then there's the canine costuming! Some breeds such as Greyhounds and Whippets are naturally bony and require the warmth of an extra layer. Other dogs that are old, very small, bald, or ill require waterproofing or insulation to protect them from the elements.

But then there's Halloween, the second biggest commercial holiday in the United States, and poor Fido finds himself dressed as a ballerina, superhero, or Elvis. Neighbors chuckle, strangers point, and "pawsitively" adorable photos are shared all over Facebook. Oh, the humiliations our four-legged friends endure for a few extra treats!

For all the fun and games, however, dogs would tell you that it's hard to communicate with other dogs when they're wearing clothing. And try doing your "business" in a cape or tutu, or eating with a wig on—especially when your hands are paws.

Unapologetically Unpretentious

Dogs live by the motto of "don't pretend to be something you're not." They are unapologetically unpretentious. In case you haven't noticed, they sniff each others' anuses, roll in dead things, and hump legs. Not that humans should take these things up as hobbies, mind you, but we could learn a few things about authenticity.

We humans are a pretentious bunch with our name brand goods proclaiming our self-worth. Maybe we should just "Leave It," and concentrate instead on building our relationships, living our values, and enjoying the simple beauty of life—just like dogs do! There are some things only Man's Best Friend can tell you without you getting all "hot under the collar" about it. Now go do it!

Lesson 3. Practice Forgiveness

If you're the type to hang on to a grudge like a dog guards his favorite toy, consider letting go for your own sake. That's right ... Stop! Drop it! Good boy (or girl)! You won't find dogs holding grudges. While it's possible some things cannot or should not be forgiven, consider this: the offending act hurt you once, but ruminating about it hurts you over and over again.

Health Effects of Unforgiveness

Unforgiveness refers to dwelling on a transgression, and that rumination is associated with anger and hostility. Simply thinking about the offense triggers a chronic stress response. It raises your blood pressure and heart rate, cause you to sweat more and increase your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).13 It can also make you feel angry, sad, anxious, and less in control.

Over time, persistent resentment can contribute to cardiovascular disease, chronic low-grade inflammation, and poor mental health. For example, an inability to forgive yourself for your own transgressions can lead to depressive symptoms in later life.

Such unforgiveness can also put you at greater risk for alcohol and substance abuse, plus other unhealthy coping behaviors. Forgiveness typically increases with age, with older adults forgiving more easily than middle age and younger adults.

In addition to benefits to your physical health, research shows that forgiveness can

  • Increase self-esteem
  • Improve mood
  • Enhance relationship satisfaction

So why not try forgiveness for your own sake?

The Path Forward Starts With One Step

Anyone who has struggled with a major interpersonal conflict in their lives knows this: an offense can occur in an instant, but forgiveness is a journey. Ultimately, forgiveness involves wishing the other well.

To help yourself along this path, both dogs and the experts would recommend the following:

  • Keep an open mind and heart, recalling incidents when you hurt others and were granted forgiveness. Recall the impact and how that felt.
  • Try to broaden your perspective by considering the situation from the other person's point of view.
  • Change your inner dialog from one of victimization and wrongdoing to one of survivorship and moving forward. The story you tell yourself makes all the difference.
  • If you are the one needing forgiveness, provide a heartfelt apology. Both genuine expressions of remorse and restitution have been shown to promote forgiveness, whereas shallow apologies can actually make matters worse.

Good luck and happy "heeling"!

Characteristics of Good vs. Bad Apologies (If You're the One Who Needs to Apologize)

Source: Greater Good: The Science of A Meaningful Life

Good ApologiesBad Apologies

make clear who the offender is and who is offended

address the wrong party or apologize for the wrong offense

clearly and completely acknowledge the offense

vague and incomplete ("for whatever I did"); use passive language ("mistakes were made"); make the apology conditional ("if I did something to offend you"); question whether the victim was damaged or minimize the offense ("to the extent that hurt you")

provide an explanation (if there is one) showing the offense was neither intentional nor personal and is unlikely to recur

involve a shallow or fraudulent explanation ("I just snapped" or "I wasn't thinking")

show contrition; recognize the suffering of the party you have hurt

paint yourself as the real victim ("I feel misunderstood")

suggest reparations, tangible and/or symbolic

involve no reparations to restore the relationship or make the party whole

Lesson 4. Sniff It Out

When it comes to their noses, dogs are super sniffers. The part of a dog's brain that specializes in detecting scent is 40 times larger than ours, proportionately speaking.14

And with as many as 300 million olfactory receptors compared to humans' 5 million, dogs' sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times as acute. As a result, dogs can detect some odors in parts per trillion, which is like catching the scent of one rotten apple in two million barrels!

Humans don't have that kind of ability, so we have to rely more heavily on our critical thinking skills. But how?

Dogs Are Super Sniffers

Source: Wikipedia

SpeciesNumber of Scent ReceptorsHow They Are Historically Valued By Humans


5 million



125 million

scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other small burrow-dwelling animals

Fox Terrier

147 million

flush foxes out of their hiding places during hunts


225 million

tracking small game, detecting prohibited agriculture and food

German Shepherd

225 million

search and rescue, cadaver and narcotic searches, military roles, acting


300 million

used by law enforcement to track human beings over large distances (even several days after the person goes missing)

How to Stop Jumping to Conclusions

Dogs are extraordinary investigators, super sleuths—even snoops. While we don't have their super sniffers, we can hone our critical thinking skills.

Rather than jumping to conclusions and "using your gut," take the time to make more reasoned inferences. Ask yourself questions such as these:

  • What are my assumptions? Are they correct? How do I know? Why am I making them?
  • Am I reaching the "right" conclusion? What evidence is there of this? Why is this is the "right" thing to do? Is this conclusion based on all the facts?
  • Are other options available? What have been others' experiences with this situation?
  • Why do other people believe what they do? What reasons support their differing points of view? How did they "get there"?

By developing better critical thinking skills, we can foster better relationships, promote multiple solutions and spinoff ideas, and make better quality decisions overall. Dogs would approve!

God Made a Dog (Heartfelt Video)

Lesson 5. Make Time for the Important Stuff

The average lifespan in dogs is 10 to 12 years, depending on the breed. Compare that with the average lifespan of 67.2 years for people worldwide (78.2 years for those in the United States).15 While it may seem like you have all the time in the world, some day you'll look back and realize it just wasn't enough.

Make the most out of the time you have by enjoying the simple pleasures, as dogs do—a good belly rub, a game of Frisbee, long walks with a friend, good conversation even if you don't say a word. Dogs really do have it figured out. They are doggone smart, man's best friend, and the best teachers indeed.

Great Dog Quotes

  • "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."—Ben Williams, American novelist
  • "The dog is the only animal that has seen his god."—Author Unknown
  • "One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you're feeling blue is that he doesn't try to find out why."—Author Unknown
  • "Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job."—Franklin P. Jones, American Humorist
  • "If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them."—Phil Pastoret, American cartoonist
  • "To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs."—Aldous Huxley, English writer
  • "They never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation."—Jerome K. Jerome, English humorist
  • "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."—Author Unknown
  • "If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience."—Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States
  • "Children are for people who can't have dogs."—Author Unknown


1McGrath, Jane. "The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship: Canine Domestication." HowStuffWorks. Accessed October 10, 2013.

2Pappas, Stephanie. "Canine Comfort: Do Dogs Know When You're Sad?" Last modified June 7, 2012.

3Viegas, Jennifer. "Can Dogs Read Minds? Not Exactly." Discovery News. Last modified January 5, 2012.

4Hoyt, Alia. "HowStuffWorks "Can a dog really predict an epileptic seizure?" HowStuffWorks.

5Davis, Jennifer. "Vision in Dogs & People." University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. Last modified 1998.

6Gowin, Joshua. "Agreeable? You’re More Likely to Benefit From Placebo." Psychology Today. Last modified January 26, 2013.

7Gullotta, Thomas P., and Martin Bloom. "

8Beck, Judith S. "How Personality Can Influence Your Weight." The Huffington Post. Last modified December 21, 2011.

9Sutin, A R., P. T. Costa, M. Uda, L. Ferrucci, D. Schlessinger, and A. Terracciano. "Personality and metabolic syndrome." Age 32, no. 4 (2010): 513-9.

10The Berkeley Science Review. "The importance of being agreeable." Last modified June 6, 2012.

11Markman, Art. "The Upside and Downside of Being Nice at Work." The Huffington Post. Last modified January 29, 2012.

12American Pet Products Association (APPA). "Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics." Last modified 2013.

13Worthington Jr., Everett L. "The New Science of Forgiveness." Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. Last modified 2004.

14Tyson, Peter. "Dogs' Dazzling Sense of Smell." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Last modified October 4, 2012.

15Wikipedia. "List of countries by life expectancy." Last modified October 15, 2013.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on March 30, 2018:

Thanks. Have an awesome weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 30, 2018:

Margie - Thanks for stopping by! I am always very suspicious of people who don't love some kind of pet -- cat, dog, or otherwise! Have a great weekend.

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on March 29, 2018:

We love our fur babies! They give us unconditional love! Loved your hub.

Julie K Henderson on May 12, 2015:

You are welcome. I also hope you have a great week.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 12, 2015:

Julie - Now that is something to bark about. Thank you! Have a great week!

Julie K Henderson on May 11, 2015:

Bravo. This hub made my day. Dogs have so much to teach us. Voted up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 12, 2015:

ezzly - Thanks for tweeting and for taking the time to comment. Have a great day!

ezzly on February 12, 2015:

Santa paws ! I love it ! Tweeting this article :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 10, 2015:

Joyfulcrown - Dogs are such a pleasure to know, and I'm so glad you have one in your life. Thanks for reading and commenting. You and your pup have a great weekend!

Joyfulcrown on January 10, 2015:

Hi Flourish, I really enjoyed your hub. I have a Maltese who has brought me such great joy into my life. I learn so much from his unconditional love.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 14, 2014:

vandynegl - And with the number of homeless dogs out there needing adoption, who can have just one? Thanks for reading and commenting.

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on September 14, 2014:

Absolutely beautiful! These lessons are so true! Just being with my dogs makes me happy! I honestly would not be able to have just one dog either. After I got Dog #2, there is no going back! Sure, they have their negative qualities, but to me, the positives far outweigh them!

Thank you for writing this!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 13, 2014:

Savvydating - Doggone it, thank you so much! I appreciate the kind compliments. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 13, 2014:

Torrs13 - Thanks for stopping by. Dogs are terrific friends and role models in that way.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 13, 2014:

firstday - Thank you for the accolades! Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 13, 2014:

misterhollywood - Thank you for the kind kudos. Dogs are great teachers and friends. Have a great weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 13, 2014:

ologsinquito - Thanks so much for commenting. Your interest has encouraged a small flurry of activity which I appreciate! I have long wished that we could have a dog; perhaps when the cats go over that rainbow.

Yves on September 13, 2014:

All I have to say is that this hub is doggone good. (No surprise there since all your hubs are amazing) Who knew we could learn so many lessons from dogs? I like how you specified that these "dog traits" are helpful to humans---medically speaking. Also, your pictures are AWESOME and so very high on the cuteness scale!

Tori Canonge from North Carolina on September 13, 2014:

What an amazing hub! My boyfriend has a dog so I'm around him a lot. I notice that he enjoys comforting us whenever we may be sad and he likes to be close. I think one of the greatest things about dogs is their resilience and ability to forgive. I think we could all take some lessons from dogs!

Rebecca Be from Lincoln, Nebraska on September 13, 2014:

Thumbs up all the way. Wonderful!

John Hollywood from Hollywood, CA on September 13, 2014:

Hello, Flourish. This was an amazing hub and so much of what you shared here is very true! We can learn a lot from our pets! Voted up!

ologsinquito from USA on September 13, 2014:

I love these pictures. Our dog likes belly rubs a lot. He does not play well with others though. That sign fits him perfectly.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 07, 2014:

Rajan - So you're a dog person -- awesome! Jack Russells are energetic little companions, I hear! Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 07, 2014:

I can relate to many of the traits in dogs as I have a Jack Russel. Other information that I wasn't aware of I got by reading this truly informative and excellently presented hub.

Really we need to learn a lot from these pets but I guess the most important is unconditional love, the love which when spread, can alleviate so much of unhappiness in this world.

Sharing this hub.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 12, 2014:

Victoria -It would be impossible not to love any being that holds us in such high regard like dogs do. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 12, 2014:

Oh, I couldn't agree more! I would never have understood this article before, as all I've ever owned are cats. However, about 2 years ago, we went and picked out my first puppy, a chocolate lab who turns 2 years old in another week and a half. Since then we went and got another, a yellow lab this time.

I feel like I have learned more, and loved more, in this last two years than I ever have in my entire life. Dogs definitely make you a better person, whether you like it or not. :) Great article!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 10, 2014:

Ellie - You're right. Four-legged friends are some of the best kinds! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Ellie Shay on February 10, 2014:

I really enjoyed this hub and the pictures are just too cute! I am a dog lover and have a 9 month old Dachshund at home. They are so in tune with you, like you stated in your hub. She knows when I don't feel good or when I am sad. They are truly the best friends!

Thank you for this!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 02, 2014:

Suzanne - Thanks for reading. You can always count on me for something a bit off-color. Glad you enjoyed this.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on February 01, 2014:

Well described! I was especially interested in the fact that dogs would rather run to someone who is crying, didn't know that, but it does give a good insight into the kindly doggy soul. Filled in your poll and thought the last choice was a little naughty!!! Voted up and funny.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 08, 2014:

Deborah - Thanks for reading and commenting. Isn't it wonderful to have someone who always think you're awesome -- even if they have four legs and sometimes eat things they shouldn't? Have a great day!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on January 08, 2014:

Great hub! And I love the idea that my dog sees my "aura of awesomeness." At least somebody does. : )

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 06, 2014:

Better Yourself - I'm so happy that you found this helpful. Dogs are special animals, and I'm glad you rescued all of yours. (They rescue us back.) Have a wonderful New Year.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on January 06, 2014:

Love! What a wonderful read and something I related to all the way to the end. I have four precious pups, all rescued from various situations, and they have taught me a lot about love, life, patience, acceptance, trust, taking the time to have fun and sooo much more. I am so thankful for each of them and the better person I am with them! I enjoyed your pics, quotes, facts and video - Well done :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 19, 2013:

Crafty - That is so cute. Exhaling is a good way to relieve stress. We should all try it once in a while. Thanks for stopping by.

CraftytotheCore on November 19, 2013:

Back for a second comment which I forget to leave in my first. There is one thing dogs do to relieve stress. The exhale when stressed. It's so funny to watch. The dogs will be feeling pressured or act anxious about something such as a stranger coming over. But as soon as they realize everything is ok, they relax their bodies and exhale. They forget about it. I wish it was that easy for me! LOL

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 09, 2013:

Peg - I'm so happy this spoke to you. That video at the end is awesome, isn't it? I can certainly identify with your sentiments about them giving you a good reason to stay on this earth. I feel like that about my cats. It's good to need an animal (true friends) and to be needed by them.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 09, 2013:

This was absolutely precious. Every picture made me want to say "Awwww". Each attribute was so entirely beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I loved the video at the end.

There've been times in my life when the only thing that kept me on this earth was my faithful companion, a dog. I loved this hub. So deep, so true.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 27, 2013:

AliciaC - I appreciate your kindness and support. Dogs are excellent buddies, making life much more enriching and teaching us, too, along the way!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 27, 2013:

Suhail and my dog - That is one of the nicest compliments I've received. A very genuine thank you for reading and for the feedback. Have a wonderful day.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on October 27, 2013:

One of the best dog related articles I have read ever, and with most beautiful accompanying pictures!

There is so much information that I will need to read this interesting article over and over again to find my treats here.

Thanks for sharing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 27, 2013:

This is an excellent hub, FlourishAnyway. It's filled with great information and advice, and the dogs in the photos are adorable! Thank you for including all the useful facts and for the interesting format. I'll share this hub.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 24, 2013:

Jaye - Sadly, you're right. From one human to another, I hope the world is treating you well these days.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 24, 2013:

I came back to make another comment. I realized that dogs have much better qualities than some of the worst examples of human nature I've encountered. They aren't mean, negative, abusive, unfair, unkind, inconsiderate, slanderous, criminal nor do they have any of the other obnoxious traits exhibited by some humans. Dogs are always beautiful, no matter their breed (or mix), and their love and loyalty are unbounded. Humans can definitely learn from dogs!


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 24, 2013:

Jeannieinabottle - Thanks for reading and commenting. I often wish I had a dog, too, but with all my cats I have to settle for visits with the next door neighbor's dog.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on October 24, 2013:

This hub is so adorable! There really is a lot to be learned from dogs. Sometimes I wish I was a dog because it seems like they are living the good life. :-)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 24, 2013:

ologsinquito - Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. Dogs are definitely good for a good belly rub.

ologsinquito from USA on October 24, 2013:

This is very cute. Our dog likes belly rubs too. I'm pinning this to my Dogs and Puppies board.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 17, 2013:

Frank - Thank you so much for your kind praise and encouragement. The editors haven't gotten around to this one yet, but in due time I hope they will. You are very talented yourself, sir!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on October 17, 2013:

this was an amazing, craftily and clever hub for so many reasons.. I hope this was one of the hubs chosen as an Editor's best.. if not the Editors may need some lessons ..:) Great share

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 15, 2013:

Carolyn - Thanks for reading and sharing. The compliment means a lot, particularly coming from you! Have a great evening!

Carolyn Emerick on October 15, 2013:

I love all of your "lessons learned from" different animals articles! They aren't simple fluff you might expect from something like this, they are actually deep, thoughtful, positive and uplifting, while also educational. Upvoted and sharing :-)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 15, 2013:

JayeWisdom - How very nice of you! Thank you again!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 15, 2013:

I saw this hub on my feed again today and had to visit it again to read all the quotes and enjoy the wonderful photos. Truly awesome!


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 15, 2013:

Heidi - Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you have such wonderful four-legged friends (and teachers) in your life.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 15, 2013:

What amazing photos you've chosen to accompany a useful hub! (Okay, I've got 2 goldens so I'm biased.) So, so true. Thank you for sharing this with us!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 15, 2013:

DDE - Thanks for sharing, commenting and reading. Dogs are certainly awesome teachers and so enjoyable to know. Have a doggone great day!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 15, 2013:

FlourishAnyway, Lessons Learned From Dogs: How To Live Your Best Life, is a great hub with such lovely photos, and their skills are worth learning from, it is easy to pick up these skills. Dogs are my best pets and I enjoy reading hubs about dogs. You have created a useful hub, voted up! Facebook LIKED and shared, tweeted.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 14, 2013:

Crafty - Your son sounds like he really found his four-legged soul-mate. They are soothing and soulful companions. The pig sounds fun too, and I'm sure they all appreciate the rescue! Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.

CraftytotheCore on October 14, 2013:

This is awesome! I loved these two words that you wrote above, unapologetically unpretentious. I just love that. I have 3 dogs of my own, and I can say that my son with Autism benefits from them greatly. Before his diagnosis, he was having a hard time relating to animals. We had gone to the pound and adopted a pot-belly pig. He loved the pig. They could run around together with the pig harnessed and it was so much fun watching the two together. But having a dog by his side really helped him calm down and focus on his homework. It was an amazing transition.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 14, 2013:

Thelma - Thanks for reading and commenting. I bet Angus was a good dog and taught you much (tail wag).

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on October 14, 2013:

Very well done! Beautiful photos as well. I enjoyed reading this and I miss my dog Angus right now. We surely learned a lot from our dogs. Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely week!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

Deeds - You are super agreeable! Old dog, new tricks? Glad to be pinned and shared!

Deeda on October 13, 2013:

Super Hub Flourish! All the good things already said. I second those comments.

+++ Well organized, referenced, and presented.

Pinned and shared.


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

LKMore01 - So glad you enjoyed this. Dogs are indeed terrific. Isn't that video amazing? Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

LKMore01 on October 13, 2013:

Beautiful, beautiful tribute to our Zen Masters, Flourish. You have covered every aspect of why we value and love our relationships with dogs and so much more. This was truly a pleasure to read. As I reflected on my time with my "teacher" I felt a deep connection with human beings and how we relate to each other through a dogs eyes. (and why some of us would rather spend more time with dogs over humans )Admittedly, I held it together until I watched the video and shed a few happy tears. Indeed dogs lives are too short and they are a constant reminder for us to live in this moment and recognize what truly matters. Brilliant.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

Jaye - Thanks for reading and sharing. Dogs certainly are wonderful teachers. Have a great Sunday.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 13, 2013:

Flourish, I must apologize for addressing my comment to Liz. My bad! However, you give me food for thought about Zorba. He was way cool!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 13, 2013:

Flourish - This is a wonderful hub, start to finish, and I enjoyed every word and picture in it. Although there are multiple messages contained herein, the whole provides both wisdome and a "feel-good" effect to this reader.

Yes, we can learn a lot from dogs!

Voted Up++++ and shared


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

Liz - Coming from the Dog Lady Extraordinare that is quite a compliment. I am glad I did right by you and your favorite four-legged buddies. Thanks for reading, voting and sharing!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

btrbell - Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. Although I'm also a cat lady by ownership, I do value dogs and have volunteered with them with spay/neuter outreach. They are such different animals, both wonderful in their own ways.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

What a beautiful story of Zorba! You can tell how much you loved him and what a fully integrated member of the family he was from the vivid memories that you have of him. They are so engaging that you should consider writing a hub about them.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 13, 2013:

Liz, I just love this post. You know I'm a cat person, but I lived with dogs when I lived at home. To this day, I pay attention to how my cats react to strangers (to them) that come into my home. If they don't react well, I know I should take another look at how far the relationship with this person would or should go.

When I was in high school we had a black Great Dane. He was awesome and very protective of me and my brother and sister. But oh so loving!

Zorba was of champion bloodline and huge. He was 36" from the shoulder down and stood over 6' tall when on his hind legs. He deemed himself my dog. He slept in my room but wasn't allowed on my bed with its white eyelet bedspread. Whenever the family would go on an outing he would help himself to my bed for his afternoon nap. Of course, as soon as he'd hear the car pull up, he'd skedaddle off the bed and act ever so innocent! Little black hairs on my bedspread always gave him up. I didn't care, but Mom did!

Not many kids grow up with a gargantuan dog. Many of our friends who didn't know Zorba were intimidated and, quite frankly, afraid of him. So, at Halloween we'd dress him up in one of my dad's undershirts and a pair of silk boxers. Zorba always answered the door with us whenever the doorbell rang. The trick or treaters were amused once they realized a dog whose face stood above their own was greeting them. He was great fun. I have such fond memories of Zorba.

Sadly, he died a week after I left home. My mom swears he died of a broken heart. He was 7, which is average for Danes. I'll never forget him and I'll love him until the day I join him again.

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on October 13, 2013:

There were so many wonderful things about this hub that I don't know where to begin. From the writing, to the information to the pictures. All awesome. I love the part about being tuned in. My dogs react if I do anything out of the ordinary and can tell when I can use a little comforting. They are awesome. Thanks for posting. Voting up and sharing!

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on October 13, 2013:

Sweet, sweet, sweet! Oh, how I miss having dog when I read this! What a great, comprehensive hub full of fun tidbits and pictures! Thank you for sharing!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

Faith Reaper - Thank you so much. Although I have cats myself, I admire dogs' friendliness and have always been the friend to neighbors' dogs. I love all the dog quotes. Couldn't choose just one! Thank you as always for reading and being your usual supportive self.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 13, 2013:

Oh, Flourish, this is the best doggone hub ever on Man's Best Friend! We can certainly learn so much from our best friends indeed. My dogs over the years have taught me of that unconditional love, acceptance, listening without talking and how to be a better friend. I love all of the quotes included here, especially: "The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."

This is such a delightful read full of insight that we, all humans, should take to heart. I love your photos and humor throughout.


Voted up and across and sharing.

Hugs, Faith Reaper

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 13, 2013:

Bill - Glad you and your shih tzu enjoyed this. It's an honor to be admired by a dog, isn't it? I'm glad you have an awesome one in your life to teach you the important things that only they really can. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on October 13, 2013:

Hi Flourish. Well you made my day with this one. As I type this our 11 year old shih tzu is lying right up against me. I must say that we have learned more from her over the past 11 years than I can recount. She goes pretty much everywhere with us except overseas. Every day when I get home from work is a celebration as she greets me like I've been gone for months. Unless someone has had a dog in their life I'm not sure that they can fully realize how special a relationship it can be.

The photos you selected for this hub are so appropriate and are priceless. Thank you for sharing this. Voted up, shared, pinned, etc....

Dogs love routine. When they know times to play, walk, eat, and sleep, it creates a confidence level that builds healthy anticipation and minimizes stress. Dogs are very clever animals and quickly pick up on many signals. Some might not be that important—leading to confusion and problems later in training.

When training puppies, it’s essential to set a reliable schedule for playing, walking, and feeding. Whatever routine you set, try and stick to it as that inspires confidence in your puppy. It also makes the transition into adulthood much easy.

Five Natural Dog Laws

How To Figure Out A Dog’s Energy Level

The second of Cesar’s Five Natural Dog Laws is this: “Energy Is Everything.” It’s how dogs — and all animals — communicate with each other and how they read our intentions and respond to us. If you have dogs, you probably already know intuitively what their general energy level is whether your dog is a hyper pup that needs to play all the time, or more of a couch potato that’s happy with a slow walk and then a nap. But how can you tell whether a new dog’s energy would be right? When people ask Cesar what breed of

Natural Dog Law 2: To Dogs, Energy Is Everything

Because humans are intellectual beings, we communicate mostly with words. This makes it easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that dogs also communicate with spoken language. While it may seem like our dogs understand specific words and associate them with specific actions, they’re mostly responding to the intent that we have associated with the word. If you tell your dog to sit without intention behind it, your dog won’t sit. Conversely, you can approach your dog with the intent to get her to sit and say the word ‘toaster’ or ‘lamp’ ‘ or nothing at all

Inside Your Dog’s Mind: What They Feel For You

It’s something we dog lovers have likely pondered any number of times when our pet looks at us with those wise, wide eyes: “I wonder what he’s thinking…” Two recent studies are moving us closer than ever to a definitive answer. In a UK study, two researchers at Goldsmiths College in London, Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, set out to determine if dogs are capable of empathy — an ability to truly understand emotion. “I had talked to so many people who have dogs who say, ‘it’s like my dog is trying to comfort me,’” says Custance. Though she admits


Back in September, Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, and parts of the U.S. itself, killing hundreds if not thousands of people, doing billions of dollars in damage, and devastating the places it hit, particularly Puerto Rico. As of now, three months later, parts of the island are still without power, there are outbreaks of disease due to insects and standing water, and over two hundred thousand Puerto Ricans have fled to the U.S. (Remember, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.) Because of this, I’m in Puerto Rico now, where I’ve come

Counting The Hours

If you live in a place in the U.S. that does Daylight Saving Time, I hope you remembered to set your clock back yesterday. However, I hate to tell you that this doesn’t mean you suddenly got a whole extra hour. You just got back the hour that “disappeared” back in March. And, really, nothing actually changed except what your clock said. Every day still has 24 hours in it, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and everything goes on. Your dog may be a little confused by the change of schedule for a day

Dog Deception

If I were to ask you what one of the most frustrating things people can do to you is, I’m pretty sure that your answers would probably mostly revolve around miscommunication — whether someone doesn’t explain clearly what they want or even goes so far as to lie outright. It’s easy to take that kind of thing personally even when it’s not, but it’s also easy to miss when we do it to others. And yet, it’s the kind of thing we do to our dogs constantly without knowing it. We mislead our dogs when we are not absolutely clear

Bounce Back Like A Dog

One of humanity’s most powerful emotions is empathy. It’s a trait not shared by a lot of animals, although elephants, dolphins, whales, and chimpanzees seem to be capable of it. So are our dogs. However, being human and emotional, we take our empathy a step further and do something that animals do not: we feel pity for other living things, and we can feel pity for ourselves. Dogs don’t do this, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, particularly in the case of lacking self-pity, it can be a powerful lesson to all of us. If you’ve

Making Scents

If you had to do without one of your five main senses tomorrow, which one would you give up? I’m guessing that most people would put sight and hearing at the bottom of the list, and not having any sense of touch would just be strange. Lacking a sense of taste would also make eating pretty uninteresting. We actually have a lot more than just five senses, but only considering the classical five, this leaves the sense of smell as the one that a lot of people would give up if they had no choice. And I’m not just guessing

Letting Go

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. It’s a commemoration that happens all over the world on different dates, although the vast majority of those happen in May, covering the entire month. In my home country of Mexico, the date is fixed on May 10. In my adopted country of the U.S., it’s always the second Sunday in May — which means that sometimes it’s the same day in both places, like it was in 2015 and will be in 2020. But there’s a more important lesson in the day than the when and why and, again, we can turn

Similar And Different

A dog and a human are very different species. Our last common ancestor probably lived about 60 million years ago, so while we have a biological connection it is a bit distant. However we do have a lot of shared traits through being warm-blooded mammals — we have hair, four limbs, two eyes, and give birth to live young. Now, I could say the same thing about gophers, hedgehogs, and a lot of other animals, but I don’t think anyone is going to immediately think that they’re just like us or vice versa. And yet, with dogs, a lot of

Everyday Sociology Blog

Learning to be Human (From My Dog)

The other day I was out walking my dog, Emma, and we ran into Archie. Archie is a gentle old soul who lives around the corner. He is always eager to see Emma and usually goes out of his way to come over and say hello.

I’ve known Archie for a few years and have come to learn quite a bit about him: his favorite places to walk around town, what he likes to eat, his low tolerance for hot and humid weather, his dislike of cats and squirrels, and even where he likes to take a poop. In case you haven’t realized, Archie is dog, a black lab to be exact. Despite all that I know about Archie there is one thing I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know: the name of his owner, much less anything about her.

I do a lot of walking around town with Emma and we encounter lots of people on our daily strolls. I don’t say this to make myself feel better, but most of the people we encounter know much more about Emma than they do about me, just like I know more about Archie than his owner. People we meet ask me how Emma is doing, how she is adjusting, did I rescue her from a racetrack, does she like to run, does she get along with other dogs, is she cat friendly. I’m constantly answering questions about Emma from strangers and casual (albeit nameless) acquaintances alike.

Despite all of these questions, I don’t think any of these people have ever asked any similar questions of me: How are you doing? What do you do for a living? Where do you live? How long have you lived here? What’s your name? We might chat about the weather or the traffic on Main Street but the “personal” questions have all been about Emma.

I wouldn’t say I’m offended by this behavior, although I do find it curious. From my perspective, at least I’m having some interaction with these individuals. Maybe I’ve set the bar too low and I should be upset. But when I walk around town or on campus without Emma it is quite common for people to walk past me and not even make eye contact, not even acknowledge my presence a mere six inches away from them. This sort of behavior does bother me. Sometimes I feel like waving my arms in front of these people and yelling: “Hello! Another living creature here! How about a little interpersonal acknowledgement!”

This conduct is even worse than the civil inattention that Erving Goffman spoke about. With civil inattention at least the other person acknowledges your existence. They respect your personal space but they don’t pretend you are invisible. My experiences, unless I’m with Emma, are better described as uncivil inattention because the other person often does not pretend that I exist.

This is where we can learn to be more human from our canine friends. Emma rarely walks past another living being without making some sort of inter-species gesture: eye contact, craning her neck to greet them, barking, or turning around in fear (she can be a bit timid sometimes). In particular, when she comes upon another member of her species, canis lupus familiaris, she never engages in uncivil inattention. She might be uncivil and bark but at least she is giving attention. More often than not, when she greets another dog they quickly proceed to the customary butt-sniffing ritual that anyone who has dogs knows all too well.

I often think of this canine behavior when I enter an elevator. Typically, when humans get into an elevator we ignore everyone else in this small, constrained space. We could be in there with four or five other people but unless we know someone we usually keep to ourselves and try our best to be inattentive (civil or uncivil). We might utter “excuse me” or “getting off” but that’s often the extent of our interactions.

If a dog walked into an elevator (I know that sounds like the beginning of a joke) with four or five other dogs you can be sure that the dog would take notice of the occupants and interact with them in some fashion. These animals would certainly give each other attention—and yes, it might be uncivil—but at least they would not be ignored like we humans are wont to do with each other.

The great irony that this example illustrates is that it is through socialization that we learn to be asocial (in some instances, socialization even makes us anti-social leading to behaviors such as bullying, aggression, and other forms of interpersonal violence). The socialization process is what teaches us to ignore others and act as if we are oblivious to their existence. Stated another way, in learning to become human we become even less human.

We actually don’t even need to look to our canine companions to prove this point. We can just look at younger versions of ourselves—i.e., small children—and think about how they react to meeting other living beings. Much like dogs, young kids have not yet learned how to tune out other people, how to disregard others’ presence, and how to be uncivilly inattentive. In much more stark terms we might say that young kids (and dogs) have not yet been schooled in the unfortunate practice of dehumanization—of treating others like they don’t exist, of denying our humanness.

At the risk of romanticizing a dog’s life, much less anthropomorphizing Emma, I do feel that I learn about, or am at least reminded of, some important “human” lessons when I walk her each day: acknowledging the presence of other people and animals, making good eye contact when I encounter others, being mindful of my surroundings, unleashing (no pun intended) my curiosity about the world around me, stopping to smell the roses (literally and figuratively), recognizing my interdependence with the environment, and realizing that not every moment has to be about me. These all seem like things we should acquire from the human socialization process but sadly we often learn just the opp osite.

The interactions between animals and humans are obviously more complicated than what I’m making them out to be in this post. If you are interested in learning more, I would suggest exploring the website of the Section on Animals and Society of the American Sociological Association. This group of teachers, researchers, and practitioners are leading the way in developing sociological insights on these complex and vital relationships. Most of us come in contact with non-human animals every day. Even if you don’t feel compelled to study these interactions sociologically you might still ask yourself: can these creatures teach me anything about being human?

Posted by W. W. Norton on June 17, 2013 in Peter Kaufman, Social Psychology

7 Lessons In Leadership I've Learned From My Dog

I think dogs are great teachers. Admittedly I'm an exceptionally proud, possibly obsessive dog-mum, but it's hard to deny our four-legged friends teach us about friendship, fearlessness, and fun for a start.

I've already paid tribute to the life lessons I've learned about doggy bed-sharing, road-tripping, gardening and celebrations. Recently, while on leave with my prodigious pooch, I realised there's a lot of parallels between being a good dog owner and growing a dynamic team at work. A mutt-ly take on pack leadership if you like.

Everyone needs time to play.

Being the dog can't be all about guard-dog duty, yelling at the postie, protecting your person and counting kibble. And work can't be all serious either or everyone gets stressed and disengaged.

If you want your team to give their best when you do need them to be serious, give them time and space to have fun and be creative. Take away the mundane and apparently urgent tasks and ask yourself what can wait. Then give them the opportunity to train in new skills, brainstorm, and test new ideas -- alone or together -- depending on their style. Let them play intellectually and then enjoy their innovation.

We all need to eat well and exercise.

You can't lock a dog up all day and expect it to thrive, we all need balance. All work and no play does not make happy workers. As a boss, it doesn't impress me either. It makes me wonder what people are doing with their day, why they haven't spoken up about their workload, or what they're trying to prove.

We all need time for the gym, family, hobbies, interests outside of work -- even just to get home on time to cook a healthy meal. It makes better and more rounded employees, so don't shirk, but stop apologising for being human, too.

Some pups take longer than others to train.

Some dogs ace agility training and fly-ball on the first attempt, have a range of tricks, and walk nicely on a lead. Others need a little more help. That's perfectly okay. That's why we have leaders and mentors.

With patience and persistence most people can master a skill, but they're all going to take different approaches. Like training a dog, with leadership it's not one-size-fits-all. Some dogs are toy-motivated, others are food-motivated. Identify your employee's motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic) and work with it, not against it.

. And they all have different skills.

Try as I might, I can't get Woofa to bring the ball back when I throw it. But, he has a gentlemanly paw-shake and is great at emptying treats from his puzzle-ball.

In the office, some folk are good details people, some are big-picture thinkers, some are the team motivators, some are quiet achievers. Find your people's strengths and make the most of them. And remember, the best team is one with diverse, yet collectively complimentary skills.

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

It makes me sad to see old dogs looked over for young pups. They may not have the years of enthusiastic, in-your-face energy of younger dogs (or staff), but they have a lot of wisdom and ignoring them deprives everyone of a great experience.

They'll bring a loyalty and steadiness to your home or team. Pay attention, honour their expertise, and you'll likely enlist their enthusiasm. Often they just need to feel appreciated to give their best.

Everyone has an accident on the rug occasionally.

Sometimes it's a training accident, sometimes it's over-enthusiasm. Not everyone is going to get everything right all the time. For me, it's very important for my team to feel like they have a safe place to fail. That's how we learn and grow. And we all have bad days, even the 'Pack Leader'.

Some dogs are just naughty. but identifying the underlying reasons is usually key to success.

Sadly, like humans, some dogs will just stare you in the eye while they pee on the rug. But this is where you need to dig deeper. Maybe they've had a bad experience in the past that's made them defiant or scared. It could be fear of failing or feedback. Maybe they were just not trained to do better before now.

Regardless, when pups or people misbehave, I've found it's usually because of fear or pain (emotional or physical). Figure that out and address it, and everyone has the best chance to do well.

Watch the video: Human Body for Kids and Human Body Size Comparison (July 2021).