These Benefits of Having a Dog Will Surprise You
You've likely seen the recent studies showing dog owners are happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life as a whole than those who don't have dogs.
But did you know the benefits of having a dog include boosting your persistence, credibility, creativity and other traits essential to you becoming more successful?
As you’ll see here at AdvantageHacks.com, it’s been my work and passion for two decades now to observe, interact with, and coach people to greater success.
And indeed, I’ve personally seen that dog owners do tend to be more successful in business and relationships as a whole, because they display more of the following traits that such success demands.
So is all of what follows "scientifically proven"? Not yet, though you can safely bet that research will catch up here too and eventually prove what many people already know to be true.
Because you learn most from what you repeatedly experience, and these same key success traits are the main lessons our dogs are constantly teaching us, just by being the wonderful animals they are.
If you're not a dog owner, you may harbor some doubts at just how powerfully dogs provide the following benefits... at least until you get yourself a dog.
BENEFIT OF HAVING A DOG #1:
From nearly a block away my dog Goober heard my cries, broke free of our yard, and hightailed it down the street toward us.
Marty leapt on his bike and started to pedal away, but my dog continued racing after him, biting at his fast-moving bike tire repeatedly till he knocked him down.
That might have been the end of Marty if I hadn’t quickly called Goober off him. Instead I triumphantly led my dog away, leaving Marty sobbing like a baby on the ground behind us. Goober's gums and tongue were bleeding, but he was okay.
Meanwhile, so many people today are at the other end of the spectrum. They say they want great relationships, but they don’t work all that hard for them. They think great relationships should just happen, as if anything really worth having just happens.
Perhaps because they constantly experience how their dog’s undying dedication makes them feel far more dedicated in kind, dog owners tend to better understand the value of real commitment.
They know that commitment is something you must demonstrate, not just wish for and talk about.
Benefit of Having a Dog #2:
THey Teach you that Persistence Pays.
It’s called, “You Grab One End of This Chew Toy with Your Hand and I’ll Grab the Other End with My Mouth and We’ll Yank Each Ether Around Violently Until One of Us Finally Lets Go.”
We had some epic battles, but because he wanted it more, Goober usually won.
One of the most amazing lessons that dogs teach is persistence.
When they really want something, they’re driven to stop at nothing to get it. They don’t always win – a fence, their leash, their owner, or some other obstacle gets in their way – but their determination is incredible.
Perhaps from witnessing this constant persistence, dog owners themselves better learn to persist, persist, persist.
You won’t always win, but with that one quality you win a whole lot more.
Benefit of Having a Dog #3:
They Teach you to Be Creative
And Find the Way.
And he became increasingly innovative in pursuit of them. For example, the trees they'd scurry up had once been a barrier. By trial and error, though, he discovered that with a running start, he could claw his way up into the trees, too.
Perched up on a branch, he would then prepare to simply wait out the startled squirrels trapped on a higher branch. I had to climb up and carry our dog out of trees on multiple occasions.
After coaching people for many years, I've seen many are indeed persistent, but in the wrong way. They try something and get bad results. Though they do try again and again, they keep doing so in very similar ways, so they keep getting the same bad results.
Then they finally give up and say it’s not possible.
Dogs teach you to persist, yes.
But from gaining your attention to begging for food to chasing squirrels, they also teach you something smarter than that.
Dogs teach you that if one way is not working to get whatever you want, try a different way.
If that’s not working, try another way still, and keep trying different ways till you succeed.
Or till some jerk carries you out of the tree.
Benefit of Having a Dog #4:
They Teach You That
The Little Things Are Everything.
And if you have a dog you know this one: once you get home where your dog’s been waiting, he or she greets you like you’ve been prisoner of war in some far-off country for years and you finally made it back.
No matter what.
Even if you’ve been gone fifteen minutes.
It’s amazing. The little things are everything to a dog.
And that's a crucial lesson dog owners are far better off for constantly witnessing.
Because so many people tend to invest so much time, energy and focus on achieving those things they think are big and important, while taking for granted or completely ignoring the little things.
Till one day they look back and realize it is those little things that make life worth living.
Laughing with friends. Meals with family. Holding someone you love on the couch and watching bad reality TV. Reading books to your kids. Playing fetch with your dog.
These things -- far more than getting the job, the promotion, the big book contract, the awards – are the things that end up really mattering.
Dog owners tend to understand this more, because they have the greatest teacher.
Benefit of Having a Dog #5:
They Teach You to Be Forthright and
Just Do It.
They fret for hours, days, even years on how to say or do what they dearly need to say or do, often resulting in them not saying or doing it at all.
They agree with others not because they really agree, but because they don’t want to be seen as disagreeable.
They’ don’t say what they really want, for fear they’ll hear “No,” or offend people, be thought of negatively, or have their tongues cut out.
They don’t try certain things they want to try because it’s so scary.
Dogs teach us how ignorant that all is.
Dogs teach us life is too short.
Because dogs don’t hold back.
If they want something, or want to know something, you know instantly that they do.
I was initially embarassed whenever my dog Goober sniffed other dogs’ behinds, or shoved his nose in peoples’ crotches.
Most dog owners, especially the newer ones, have felt that embarrassment.
But that’s our shortcoming; the dogs aren’t embarrassed by it.
They want to know something, and possibly engage in something, and that’s how they go about it. They just do it.
Now I’m not advocating that you shove your nose in other’s crotches. That’s not our way of communicating and understanding. (I wouldn’t advocate strongly against it, either, because it would be entertaining to see. From a distance.)
But I do know far too many people don’t say, try, and do so much of what they really need to in their short lives.
Because they’re greatly controlled by fear, by all those imagined dreadful “what ifs.”
It’s a terrible way to barely live.
And I've certainly seen that dog owners -- especially those who have been at it for many years -- have far less of this fear-driven self-restriction.
BEnefit of having a Dog #6:
THey Teach you To Take Nothing Personally. Just Let It go.
Dogs often do that because they’re nervous.
You have to try to train them out of it, but when they’ve just chewed the legs of your dining room table or your priceless family photo albums, it’s hard not to train them in a very loud and profanity-laced way.
Here’s one of the most beautiful things about dogs, though: they don’t take anything personally, especially from those they love most.
Dogs don’t hold grudges.
That's one of their most powerful lessons for people.
Yes, Goober might sulk immediately after his chew-violation scoldings... for all of 30 to 60 seconds.
But then he’d be back to being your best friend, or trying.
Even if he was unjustly scolded -- like if I had a bad day and happened to step on his rawhide and chew him out for it -- he wouldn’t take it personally. Instead, moments later he’d be trying to nuzzle up to me.
That’s Dalai Lama level stuff.
(He never even complained once about that ridiculous name my father gave him: Goober!)
Back in the human world, meanwhile, nothing sucks so many peoples' precious time, energy, and productivity more than the oh-so-many things they take personally.
Grudges bubble up from our fragile-child egos, and they’re a waste.
Yes, the ego will fight hard not to give up grudges, even trying to equate not tolerating certain forms of abuse from others with taking things personally, though they’re not the same thing at all.
Taking things personally and holding onto those grudges only drains the life out of people.
Dog owners are fortunate to have a daily Dalai Lama-level example of this from their dogs.
bENEFIT of Having a Dog #7:
They Teach You to Never Betray Trust.
What crazy or otherwise "questionable" things have they witnessed you do?
I whispered secrets to my dog Goober that even made me blush as I shared them. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t judge. He just listened, and in fact wagged his tail. And he took my secrets to the grave. He was the best person I ever knew.
I threw baby-like tantrums in front of my dog Goober that would have prompted any of my human friends to have certain doubts about me, and possibly gossip about the spectacle with others. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t judge. When I calmed down, he just nuzzled into me with wagging tail. And he never shared my breakdowns with a soul. Best person ever.
Now some who don't have dogs might say, "Well that's dumb, because like any animal they don't speak human, so of course that's the case!"
But as other dog owners just know, even if dogs could speak human, it's completely against their nature to ever betray trust. (Whereas here I'd suggest that certain cats might ;-) )
Meanwhile, as we all have experienced, some humans simply cannot be trusted.
Even if they’re asked not to share, some just don’t have the honor and can’t resist sharing with just that one other person. Who of course then shares with another, and so forth, till the betrayal has spread like butter in a hot pan.
That’s never the case, of course. If you’ve been handed something personal, that’s an honor.
You’ve been entrusted to protect something precious that doesn’t belong to you. No sharing unless you’ve been granted permission, or perhaps the betrayal has a greater good like saving lives, or you’re okay with being scum.
Like most of these benefits, this is not scientifically proven (yet) -- and there are of course exceptions -- but in general I absolutely have seen that dog owners tend to be more trustworthy people!
Ask yourself this: if you had to share a secret with one of two people, and you knew nothing about these two people except that one had a dog and the other never did, who would you share the secret with?
Benefit of Having a Dog #8:
They Teach You to Really listen and
Assess the situation before Acting
With shrinking attention spans and the growing habit of just quickly skimming through things -- and with the mass media glorifying this ignorance -- it's an increasing problem.
Because one of the absolute key ingredients to success in business and relationships is an extensively practiced ability to listen, and otherwise carefully assess situations, before making any judgements or taking any action.
With their keen sense of smell and listening, dogs are master teachers of this important lesson.
As dog owners know -- and find incredibly cute -- dogs cock their heads when they're listening and trying to understand something intently.
My dog Goober seemed to have three levels of this: slight, medium, and cocking his head so much it almost turned upside down. This head tilt, and the different levels of it, is their way of gathering different and deeper information to assess the situation.
Their sense of smell is even more developed, of course.
And being around dogs and their constant example, it's hard NOT to learn to use our own dominant senses and brain more to assess situations before taking action... or speaking, or passing judgement.
(I've also seen many dog owners actually tend to cock their heads when listening to something important -- yours truly included -- just like their dogs! :-) )
Benefit of Having a Dog #9:
They Teach You Empathy and Compassion for Others, and for Yourself.
A little later in my youth I’d get rejected by girls, or reject them, and come home feeling terrible and low. And there was Goober, doing his thing and lifting me up.
And a shout out to my sister and her amazing dog Sydney here. Because less than a decade ago, as a grown man, I was going through a particularly rough period of life. I’d gone through divorce, my son had left for college, and I was living alone somewhere new where I knew no one.
I was feeling lonely and low, low, low.
Though she normally boarded her dog Sydney when they traveled, she asked if I would be so kind as to watch her dog for a week. In retrospect I realize this was a smart sisterly therapeutic gesture, because sure enough Sydney – just like Goober decades before – licked, nuzzled, and lifted me up, reminding me that things and I weren’t so bad after all.
Like nothing and no one else, a dog’s love is unconditional.
And because it is so, it calms you down and prompts you to realize there is so much that is good about you.
It doesn’t absolve you of the things you need to work on, or absolve you of the wrongs you need to right. But it certainly helps set those things in the proper light.
A dog’s relentless licking and love reminds you that you may be flawed, but you are still wonderful.
It reminds you to be kind to yourself, and to others, because of that.
Perhaps what the people who do the meanest things most need is just a dog of their own to go home to, who will remind them they are not unloved after all, and not as low as they deep-down must believe they are in order to do those mean things.
Perhaps many such people have had dogs, and the dogs’ quiet demonstrations of unconditional love have prevented countless human violence and tragedy.
In this sense, and this is no overstatement, dogs are the closest things I’ve seen on this earth to the ideals associated with Jesus.
People who have dogs absolutely do tend to be more compassionate and empathetic to others, and themselves.
Benefit of Having a Dog #10:
THey Teach You to Enjoy Life
Every chance you get.
Because you are so busy and have a million things to do?
My dog Goober got it, and I'll bet it’s the same with your dog, too:
Life is not a nonstop game of playing fetch the ball. But do it as often as you can.
Goober never passed up the chance to enjoy himself, even if it was for thirty seconds as I walked from one end of the house to the other.
And if no such opportunity presented itself, Goober often tried to make the opportunity.
If I was deep into my homework, or watching TV, he’d often come running at me and then suddenly stop, with that look in his eyes that said, “Just try to catch me!”
Or he’d drop his ball or a chew toy onto my feet, as if to say, “C’mon, take a break, let’s live a little!”
If I didn’t partake, and he found no willing playmate in our other family members, he’d play a whacked out game of whipping his chew toy around by himself. Or he’d run laps around the dining room table himself, as if he was being chased. Often I then did just have to drop whatever I was doing and join him.
Meanwhile, people live such busy, busy lives. We skim through things quickly to get to the next thing, and the thing after that.
When people ask us how we’re doing, we love to respond, “I’m good, but just so busy!”
As if that’s the badge of honor that proves we’re doing life right.
But is that right?
If you’re not grabbing the opportunities to enjoy life, and making the opportunities if they don’t present themselves -- even if it’s for a few minutes every day with something as simple as playing fetch, or reading and sharing an article like this, or thumb-wrestling – are you really doing life right?
Even in those months that Goober had all those tumors and he was dying, he tried to play brief games of tug of war.
In those final weeks and then days before his death when he became too exhausted, his eyes still lit up and his tail wagged briefly when I showed him a ball.
My dog got it.
Dogs get it.
And it's therefore something those who have dogs tend to understand more, too:
Life is indeed not a nonstop game of playing fetch.
And that's exactly why you need to do so as often as you can, and without feeling any guilt.
This may be the most important lesson of all from our dogs.
To conclude, and reiterate, of course dogs don't teach us any of this with the intention of teaching us.
They do so just because they are the beautiful animals they are.
Inasmuch as we humans are responsible for who dogs are by domesticating them – and we’re only partly responsible, because much of the best of who they are comes from their ancient wild side – but inasmuch as we are responsible, it’s quite likely the best thing we humans ever did.
And as nearly all dog owners will agree, having a dog (or two, or three) is among the best things you'll ever do.
They make us better people.
It’s been thirty years since your death, and I still love you, and miss you.
With all the memories and with all the lessons you taught, though, you’re still by my side.
Of course you are. Because you’re my dog.
Please consider donating to, and adopting from, your local dog shelter.
And don't miss your FREE instant copy of
↓ The 50 Most Amazing Quotes About Dogs ↓
Brian Vaszily, Founder of Advantage Hacks, has grown 5 successful startups, launched many successful products, authored several books including a #1 bestseller, and coached many good people and 2 jackasses. For 20+ years it's been his passion to discover what MOST enables successful people to become successful. From timeless success strategies to new technology coming soon that will change our world, he reveals the most important secrets to you here, and usually does so in a damn enjoyable way.