20 Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Dogs have a lot to teach us about mindfulness, unconditional love, and relationships to others.

We can carry those lessons with us both on and off our mat. Here are my favorites. Have more? Feel free to add them in the comments below.

1. Stay hydrated. Dogs are acutely aware of what their body needs. The first thing my dogs do in the morning is head over to their bowl and drink some water. This is a practice that I am working on incorporating into my own routine. Dogs drink when they are thirsty, and drink enough to keep them energized. It’s easy to forget that sometimes all you need is a glass of water. 

2. Eat nutritious foods. Dogs live to eat. We feed our dogs the best foods so that they can be healthy and strong. So why not do the same for our own bodies? Eating organic food helps to decrease allergies, reduce digestive issues, and cultivates better overall health. I feed my dogs healthy food that is derived from organic and natural plant and animal sources, like ORGANIX®. I know how important it is for them and I do my best to incorporate only natural unprocessed foods into my own diet as well. 

3. Be loyal to your friends. Dogs are pack animals, and instinctually look out for and take care of one another. One of my dogs won’t go for a walk unless the other two are coming. If one of the dogs isn’t feeling good, the other two will lie by their side. If one gets stuck outside in the rain, the other will come running to find me to open the door and let them in. It’s important to be there for your friends through the good times and the bad, and to support them unconditionally. 

4. Show love to those around you. When dogs meet a new person or another dog, they may be timid or territorial at first. Yet once they warm up to someone, they are not afraid to show affection. They are also masters of unabashed physical affection. From them I learn to let down my guard and show love and compassion to those around me. 

5. Stay curious. My furry friends never get tired of going on walks or exploring their surroundings. Whether they’re wandering a new space or walking the same route they take every day, there’s always something new and exciting to discover. 

6. Exercise makes you feel good. My dogs are their happiest when they get to just run around. They are no strangers to the high you get after a long run. I easily forget how great it feels after exercising. I owe it to my dog friends for getting me outside and making me run around. 

7. Be open and receptive to others’ emotions. Dogs can always tell when you’re feeling down or when you’re elated. They are receptive to energies around them, and are always there to comfort you when things aren’t quite right. Being sensitive to the way other people are feeling is so important in daily interactions, and helps us to navigate your relationships in a genuine and engaging way. 

8. Never forget the importance of play. Playing is so important and is not limited to children. Dogs of all ages play. It is an integral part of their lives. Making time to play each day puts things in perspective and allows us to find clarity by stepping out of our routines. 

9. Practice patience. This is a big one. When it’s time to eat, my dogs sit side by side waiting patiently for their food—even when it's the ORGANIX® food they love! When someone leaves the house, they wait by the door for them to return. They trust that things will happen when they happen and don’t try to rush it. 

10. Take care of your teeth. Dogs instinctively take care of their teeth by chewing on bones that are hard but not too thick. This keeps their teeth strong and shiny without causing fractures. It’s important to care for your gnashers and keep them in tip-top shape. 

11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My little dog Oliver is never ashamed to ask for help. Because of his size, getting up onto the bed like the others do is a challenge for him. He can do it, and he’s confident that he can, though sometimes he does fall down. Whenever there’s someone around to help him get up, he sits patiently and paws at the bed indicating that he could use a helping hand. It’s important not to let one’s ego get in the way of asking for a little assistance when we need it. 

12. Don't hold grudges. Life is just too short—even in dog years. Even if your dog ate through the furniture to show you how upset he or she was that time you left them at home all afternoon, they're over it by evening.

13. Be confident. Dogs are often unaware of their size. My Jack Russell has no idea he’s not the same size as his Border Collie best friend. He’ll play with dogs four times his size and have no clue he’s at a disadvantage. They accept themselves for who they are, and this is something I strive for in my own personal life. 

14. Embrace your quirks and don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. Dogs don’t envy each other based on looks or body types like people do. They don’t feel superior or inferior based on their breed. Dogs do not pass judgement, on others or on themselves, and that’s what makes them so beautiful and open to love. 

15. Stretch out your body when you get up. When you’re getting up from a long nap, it’s important to do a little Downward Facing Dog to get your blood flowing and your body moving. Dogs instinctually stretch out their muscles when they get up from a long rest. 

16. Embrace the present moment. Dogs don’t hold onto the past or get hung up on the future. They are concerned only with what’s happening right now, and thus they can fully experience each moment. It is important to stay present during each moment, rather than concerning oneself with what’s been done or what will happen next. 

17. Meditate. Dogs can spend hours sitting. My dogs will often sit with their eyes gently or fully closed but remain awake and present. There is a time for play and a time for contemplation, and dogs balance themselves between the two. 

18. Take time to rest. Dogs really know how to relax and they know the importance of naps. They don’t feel guilty for lazing around and letting their bodies and minds rest. It’s easy to get swept up in the day to day rush and forget that balance is necessary and our minds and bodies need time to process and reboot. 

19. Trust your gut. Don’t overthink things and let your instincts lead you. Dogs follow their nose and trust their instincts to lead them. I try and remember this when I get caught up in a debilitating string of thoughts and concerns. 

20. Love unconditionally. Dogs love you for who you are, and they will always forgive you. Holding a grudge is counterproductive. I strive to love in the way my dogs do, both in terms of self-love and love of those around them.