About three years ago, my family and I adopted our first-ever dog. She isn’t just an animal to us, and she understands far more than basic commands. Since she became part of our family, I feel like I learn something new every day, particularly about how we can improve our own relationships. Here are seven things we can learn from our canine companions.

1. Wake up with a loving attitude

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Via giphy Description: Two dogs licking each other in bed

Life is too short to wake up in a grumpy mood. Wake up a few minutes earlier and spend time cuddling before you have to face the big bad world. It does wonders to keep you stress-free. Plus it brightens your day if someone wakes you up with kisses, doesn’t it?

2. Be expressive & communicate your feelings

Dog on his bed constantly wagging his tail
Via giphy. Description: Dog on his bed constantly wagging his tail

If dogs could wag their tails off to communicate their happiness, they would. They do this when they greet loved ones, or when they appreciate getting an extra pat on the head.  We tend to take our relationships for granted. We often assume that if someone has known us long enough, they’d be able to guess our feelings. While that may be true in several instances, it is an unreasonable assumption. Why shouldn’t we communicate our feelings instead? As the song says, if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. Follow that!

[bctt tweet=”We often assume that if someone has known us long enough, they’d be able to guess our feelings. Why shouldn’t we communicate our feelings instead?” username=”wearethetempest”]

3. Be the first to apologize

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Via giphy Description: Dog pawing at nose, as if to say sorry

My dog may only be three, but boy, can she give me attitude! I only have to complain about her to a fellow dog owner and I get the “Hey, that’s private!” look. If I don’t stop soon enough, she ignores me for a few hours. After sleeping on it, it’s like her feelings have been reset. She’s happy with me again and even makes amends by licking my hands – her way of apologizing. We’d do well to give up our egos in return for more loving relationships.

However, in some cases…

4. Draw your boundaries

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Via giphy Description: Scary-looking dog baring its teeth

My dog is very possessive when it comes to her food. Once she is served her meal in her bowl, no one is allowed to touch it. Usually the friendliest, she will growl and make her discontent known, should someone even pretend to touch her food. Each one of us has something that’s non-negotiable. It would be a lot easier to discuss this first-off than to get to a point where you have a big, ugly spat about it.

5. Work at your relationships

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Via giphy Description: Dog and toddler sleeping. Dog suddenly starts licking the kid’s face to make her laugh

Dogs and several animals are best trained on the principle of positive reinforcement. They are rewarded for every good deed, even if it is with a simple compliment. In close relationships, we’re usually critical and are thus, the first to condemn and the last to compliment. What we don’t realize is that this eventually erodes the foundation of our relationships. Praise your friends, family members and significant others when they achieve something – make sure they know you appreciate them.

[bctt tweet=”In close relationships, we’re usually critical and are thus, the first to condemn and the last to compliment.” username=”wearethetempest”]

6. Always be ready for an impromptu getaway

Excited dog
Via giphy Description: Dog jumping excitedly at being asked whether he wants to go for a walk

Dogs are incredibly enthusiastic when it comes to going on adventures – even if it’s a short walk. I wish humans could be like that! Life tends to be mundane when it is routine. The key is to be spontaneous. If it’s a friend or significant other’s birthday or your anniversary, make secret plans to disappear for a few days. If possible, take the day off to go to the beach and just relax. Or take a long drive or a hike. Whatever floats your boat. Like a dog, take every opportunity to have an adventure.

7. Always, always have each other’s backs

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Via giphy Description: Teamwork between two dogs to get a ball out of a pool

Dogs are known to be loyal to a fault, making them the best companions. Additionally, they mimic their owner’s behavior. My dog is instinctively friendly towards the people I like. She absolutely adores this friendly neighborhood kid who always greets her. While I was walking her, the kid mentioned he was being bullied. Although my dog didn’t know who the bully was, she ignored the bully every time she saw him. She knew to do this because she watched the kid’s reaction to the bully. The bully then got ridiculed by his peers that he was ignored by the dog who likes strangers. You have got to be on your friend’s/significant other’s team. Always be the person in their corner against the world, despite the differences you may have with them.

  • Part-time writer and full-time healthcare professional. Insane optimist, enthusiastic traveller & avid foodie. Loves a good story, in any form. Prefers unpredictability and doesn't conform to most boxes/labels.