Dogs Inspire and Require Us To Act

They change our lives in ways that are not obvious
By Karen B. London PhD, March 2018

It’s well known that one of the influences dogs have on our lives is that we exercise more. They need their walks and outings, so that often outweighs our inherent laziness or inclination to stay in, especially during foul weather. There are so many other, less well-known ways that dogs affect our actions and influence how we live our lives, including the following:

Socializing more. Do you go out more and hang out with other people because your dog needs his canine play dates? Do you find yourself enjoying the social time at the dog park or the walks with friends who are also making sure their dogs get out for some fun each day?

More frequent food shopping. Does having a dog mean that you can’t skip out on going to the grocery store and order take out? Your dog still needs to eat, and if you cook for your dog or feed raw food, that means keeping your pantry and fridge well stocked with healthy options.

More money. At first, it’s easy to laugh at this and invite me over to see your monthly budget with dog expenses occupying more space in it than any financial advisor would recommend. However, I am referring to earning more money as opposed to having more money. It’s not unusual for people to be motivated to earn extra money to pay for an agility habit or to cover unplanned vet bills.

Accepting the unexpected. Dogs add to the surprises (good and bad!) that we face in our daily lives. Whether it’s the pleasure of a new extra cute expression or the annoyance of an unexpected clean-up challenge, having a dog probably means that you’re not able to control your life and environment as well as you could without a dog. Dogs add love and joy along with various messes and chaos to each and every day. That means that they lead many people to live their lives with a bit more tolerance for changes in routine and an increased ability to handle life’s unpredictability.

Keeping a cleaner, tidier house. I know, this is another one that seems absurd since most of us have a dog hair issue, a chronic toys-are-everywhere issue and perhaps even a drool issue. However, people whose dogs search for food or love a trash party often keep their counters clear and take out the trash long before the bin is overflowing.

How does your dog change the way you live and what you do?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.

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