5 Lessons on Life and Love My Dog Taught Me

Dogs can teach us valuable lessons about love and relationships -- and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to learn them.


I launched my Dogster writing career in 2013 with a piece titled “I Love My Dog More Than I Love My Husband.” With February, the “month of love,” in mind, I want to revisit some of my points in that article, particularly about what dogs can teach us about having relationships with other humans.

1. Communication

As dogs are nonverbal, they rely on the tone of their barks/growls and their body language to communicate their needs, wants, and feelings. Learning this language can help you be a better communicator with people as well as your dog. So many arguments begin with just a simple misunderstanding, something that may have been prevented if you had listened more to how something is being said rather than just the words alone.

2. Gratitude

You come home, and your dog is thrilled to see you. You pet your dog, and your dog is thrilled you are petting him. You feed your dog, and your dog is thrilled you are feeding him. In as much as possible, dogs show an enormous amount of gratitude. They are excited about the small and even routine events in their lives, typically because their humans are involved. We often take our significant others for granted, and continually doing so can take a toll on even the strongest of bonds. I don’t suggest licking their face or trying to share some three-day-old garbage, but a hug and a simple “thank you” can work miracles.

3. Excitement

Relationships can get comfortable. After the initial newness wears off, you’re left with each other’s weird quirks, like mouth breathing or sleeping with pantyhose on your head (shameless Raising Hope reference). Dogs keep excitement in their lives by relishing in the little things and living in the moment. We humans often get caught up in everyday realities, such as jobs, bills, and other responsibilities … so much so that we often forget how to enjoy a little spontaneity. On your way home, pick up something special for your loved one — a wildflower, favorite snack, or sweet card. Even the smallest thing can spark renewed interest in your relationship.

4. Presence over presents

Okay, I know we just talked a little about presents, but it’s also important to note that your presence is much more valued. Your dogs love toys and treats, but what they love most is your time and attention. The same goes for loved ones — you can heap all of the presents on them you want, but if they’re not also getting your attention, your relationship will wither.

5. Commitment

Having a dog is committing to a lifetime of scooping poop, washing food bowls, and repairing damage, all in exchange for the undying love of a big ball of fur. That’s a pretty cheap price for love, but the point is that every relationship has its chores — maintenance work if you will. To have a good relationship with another human, you have to realize it’s not always going to be sunshine and roses. There will be good days and bad, sickness and sorrows, but your commitment is a promise to carry on.

What have dogs taught you about relationships? Tell us about it in the comments!

Read more about Valentine’s Day:

About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

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