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Learning from your four-pawed friend

It’s National Pet Month, so what better time to appreciate all the joy that dogs bring into our lives?

With their waggy tails and boundless enthusiasm, dogs always know how to lift our spirits. Endlessly loyal, they love you no matter what. It’s no surprise that so many people tell us that their canine companions are helping to brighten their days during these tough times.

How can humans be more like a dog?

Given that life on lockdown can be tricky to handle, what can we learn from our pooch’s happy-go-lucky approach? Here are a few ideas.

1. Greet the day with enthusiasm

From the millisecond your dog wakes up, they’re raring to go. “Look!”, they say, as they race towards you to shower you with doggy kisses. “It’s morning! How fabulous is that?”

We may not often wake up and feel as joyous as our dog. But a hit of positivity first thing can set us up for a better day. See what it feels like to get out of bed and think: “It’s morning! How fabulous is that?” We bet it’ll put a sunshine spring in your step.

2. Be easily pleased

Dogs are delighted by the smallest thing – a squeaky toy, a biscuit, a door opening. While we’re not suggesting you should howl with excitement every time the doorbell rings, you could develop more of a dog-like sense of gratitude.

Be grateful for the little things in life, whether that’s noticing a flower that’s coming into bud, listening to a blackbird sing at dusk, or, indeed, enjoying a particularly fine biscuit.

3. Be a cheerleader for your family

Girl with black lab at the sea

Dogs love you unconditionally. You are their favourite person. When you laugh, they wag their tail. That’s how much they love you.

Now, we’d be the first to admit that being in constant close proximity with your nearest and dearest can sometimes be wearing. But if you do find yourself thinking uncharitable thoughts, imagine how your dog would react in your place. Drop grudges straight away, replace that scowl with a cheery ‘Hello!’ and always give people the benefit of the doubt. A sense of goodwill is catching.

4. Live in the moment

Having a dog by your side is like living with your own personal Zen master. They’re not troubled by the past or the future, just what’s happening right now.

At a time when it’s difficult to not worry about all the things that are currently going on in the world and what you should have done BC (Before Covid-19) or what’s going to happen next, try your best to take your cue from your pup and live in the moment. Focus on the task in front of you and give it your all. With this approach, even everyday tasks like washing up or weeding the garden can become mini-meditation sessions.

5. Be a good listener

German Shepherd with tilted head

Dogs are brilliant at listening. They never switch off or change the subject when you’re telling them about your day. If you’ve got a knotty problem, they’ll tilt their head to one side and stare at you in a meaningful manner, letting you explore all the possible avenues until you reach a conclusion.

What would it be like if we listened to our friends and family as intently as our dog listens to us? Life in lockdown would probably go a lot more smoothly, for a start. People around us would feel heard and understood, and there’d be fewer arguments.

6. Embrace monotony

Jack Russel racing after ball

As far as a dog’s concerned, if it’s good to do something once, it’s even better to do it again and again and again. Can you fling a ball too many times? Does it ever get less fun to bark at a squirrel up a tree?

No. For your pup, repetition is unequivocally a good thing.

We have something to learn here. We might enthusiastically welcome the challenge of thinking up 20 different recipes using red lentils or discovering new ways to enjoy our single dog walk a day. Embrace monotony and the results could surprise you.

7. Live for walks

At the slightest hint that you’re thinking of taking them for a walk, your dog is ready to go, shaking with excitement, trying to open the door with their nose. They love, love, love a walk. True, they also love biscuits and grabbing the best spot on the sofa, but walks come first.

If you have a dog, chances are that you already enjoy taking your pup out for a walk. But if you want to cultivate a more dog-like approach, you’ll be keen to get out there in all weathers and be happy to take your time investigating the natural world. Your dog doesn’t just want to get from A to B; they’re in it for the journey.

8. Go to bed early

We all know that a good night’s sleep is fundamental for our physical and mental health. We’re aware that sleep repairs important links and connections in our brain. But does this stop us playing one last game or watching one more episode when it’s already late? It does not.

We definitely have something to learn from dogs here. Most of them sleep 12-14 hours a day and the dogs we know regard 9pm as a late night. So, while many of us have a bit more latitude about our waking hours, why not try going to bed at the same time as your dog? After a refreshing night’s sleep, you’ll be all the more ready to spring out of bed and greet the new day with canine-style enthusiasm!

Can you support your local pet rescue centre?

While we’re celebrating the joy that our pets bring us, we wanted to let you know about a new charity initiative that Lintbells has set up, Rescue your Rescue.

Pet rescue centres have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. They’ve had to close and their sources of income have been drastically affected. As a result, many centres across the UK are threatened with closure.

Can you support your local pet rescue centre with a donation of £2? Please help these vital charities to look after the animals that so urgently need their support. Thank you.

How's your pooch be inspiring you to be more present and in the moment? Share your stories over on our Facebook and Instagram.

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