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Home : Feed Your Spirit : Your Life, Better
20 Life Lessons that Walking Your Dog Can Teach You

Written by Christina Villa

Dogs are pretty straightforward creatures.  They live in the moment, don’t hold grudges, and love unconditionally.  We can learn a lot from them.

Stop to smell the roses (and the fire hydrant, the stop sign, every tree).


Slow down and notice the sights, sounds, and smells of your everyday life.  You love them all whether you’re aware of it or not.  People who recover from a long illness know this. 

Have a purpose.


Dogs in packs get up in the morning and head out and walk.  They don't run around aimlessly in open areas (although this is also fun).  If dogs prefer having a destination every day, so should you. 

Never give up.


Ever see a dog try to chase a squirrel up a tree?  They jump, claw at the tree, and bark their heads off. They don't just stand there and think "No way I can get up there."  If it's important to you, don't be daunted by the seemingly impossible.

Know how to give up with grace.


After jumping, clawing, and barking, dogs decide they have done their best.  Without bitterness, they resume their walk. They move on.  Do the same the next time you are frustrated by some person or situation that has outsmarted you.

Stay curious.


Your dog will stop to check out the exact same mailbox or telephone pole that she has checked out 3,000 times before.  Something might be different.  You never know.

Vary your route.


Turn left instead of right at that corner. Take a new trail in the woods.  See more, do more, meet new people. Remember that everything familiar and beloved was once new and strange.

Be sensible.

Some dogs turn around and go back in the house when they see it's pouring rain out. Don't walk into situations that you can plainly see will leave you sopping wet. Use the sense God gave a beagle.


Don't get ahead of yourself by taking on too much or getting in over your head.  Stick close to the beliefs that guide you.


Pick up after yourself.

Do the right thing, even if no one's looking and you can get away with leaving a mess for the next unsuspecting person to step in.


Know when it's OK to be off the leash—and when it's not.


You're less likely to get run over by a truck if you make smart decisions about when to let yourself go and when to keep yourself in check.

Dream big.


If you let a border collie off the leash at the beach, he will herd the seagulls until they remember they can fly.  Follow your instincts and challenge yourself.  Herd those seagulls.

Don't make excuses.


You have to walk the dog every day, no matter how late you get in. Stick to your commitments even when it's the last thing you feel like doing.

Know your limits.


Don't walk too far with an elderly St. Bernard.  When he can't go any further, he won't.  You'll either have to wait for him to rest up or call a cab.  Sometimes you have to take the time you need.  And other people will just have to wait.

Get a grip.


If you're mad or upset, there are many worse things you could do than walking the dog.  Snap the leash on Buster or Bernice and go for an extra long walk.

Don't strain at the leash.


Well-trained dogs walk with the leash slack, so it's almost like not being on a leash at all. Live your life that way as you negotiate its responsibilities and limitations.

Be prepared.


Don't be one of those people who walk the dog in their slippers in February.  No matter what you're doing, check conditions and plan accordingly.

Don't go out without your tags.


Always remember who you are, where you come from, and the name and number of someone to call if you get lost.

Be direct.


When a dog needs to go for a walk, he lets you know.  He doesn't drop hints and then get an attitude if you don't pick up on it.  If you have something you need to say, say it.  And no barking.

Stay humble.


Walking down the street with a dog on a leash and carrying a small bag in your other hand is just one way dogs have of keeping us from thinking too highly of ourselves.

Keep going.


When dogs fetch a stick, they keep running even if the stick lands in water.  This is what dogs call “swimming.”  When the ground underneath you seems to give way, that's no time to stop moving.  Just keep going as best you can towards your stick.

Buy It

"20 Life Lessons that Walking Your Dog Can Teach You" printed booklet is availiable for purchase for $6.95.

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