My Blogging Experience

February 3, 2010

Life lessons I learned from my dogs

Filed under: Daily Living — Tags: , , — debyj @ 3:24 pm

Sometimes we learn lessons in places we never expect and from people (or animals in my case) that we never expected. Not only have I learned life lessons from my dogs, but I have also learned to open my eyes and be more open to learning. Sometimes I find we get in our heads that we can only learn from people that are older and wiser than us. Well, I disagree. I think we can learn from people of all ages, especially our students, but the only way to do that is open our minds and be available to learn.

So what exactly did I learn from my dogs? Well…lets start with some introductions:

This is Daisy:

Daisy is a 2.5 year old beagle. My husband and I got her when she was 1 year old. We were her 4th owners. We quickly discovered that Daisy had more energy than a grade 1 classroom combined and loved to eat anything and everything she could get her teeth on (especially the expensive things like cell phones and prescription glasses). She also enjoyed jumping on people, barking at anything that moved, and running away. One particular time, we got a call from the grocery store across the street because Daisy had run into their store and taken interest in greeting all of the customers (fortunate for us she did not eat any of the food).

I had dogs my entire life and I have never had to put so much work into caring for a dog. I think I read every dog training book available and watched every tv show and video on dog training that I could find. And my shocking diagnosis….Daisy was not the problem…it was ME!

After a year and a half of owning Daisy, I am happy to say that she will not find herself with a 5th owner anytime soon! I can say Daisy does not chew on things that are not hers anymore. She does not run away, she doesn’t bark at people, and she does not jump on people unless she is allowed.

This is Lucky:

We adopted Lucky from the Regina Humane Society about 4 months ago. We decided to get a second dog if we happened to come across a dog that would be a good companion for Daisy and a positive influence for her. We happened to stumble across Lucky one day and he proved to be a great dog. His previous owners had quite the report on how terrible Lucky was but we still have not seen that side of him. We immediately started working with Lucky and training him using the same techniques we had used with Daisy and he has responded well.

So how did I learn to change so that Daisy and Lucky could behave better?

1. I learned to have patience. It was not easy at times, but sometimes I just had to wait and wait for Daisy to calm down before we could accomplish anything.

2. I learned to be calm. If I am freaking out, Daisy and Lucky sense it, so they just freak out too! I learned that if I could be calm when they were freaking out, my energy would be contagious to them and they would immediately calm down.

3. I learned to forgive and forget. Dogs forget. They live in the moment, so I learned not to be bitter because Daisy ate my sock three days before. She had no idea that was why I was mad and so it was not helping the situation.

4. I learned the importance of structure. Everyone (including dogs) needs some kind of structure in their lives to function properly. If we do not have structure, we typically act out negatively. For example, try and teach in a classroom with no rules, expectations, or routines.

5. Unconditional love. I think dogs have unconditional love because they never hold anything against us. Humans on the other hand, hold things against each other all the time and it always seems to get us in big trouble. My dogs are always a constant reminder to not hold grudges against anyone.

When I got Daisy, I never expected to learn so much from her. All of the things she has taught me have transferred into all aspects of my life, especially my teaching. I find it is so exciting to think of all the learning opportunities we have available to us and am sometimes saddened by the fact that some people let those opportunities pass them by everyday because they do not believe it is possible.

Some of my favorite dog trainers:

Cesar Milan

Tamar Geller

My favorite pet store:

Pawsitively Purrfect



  1. I hear ya! I bought a puggle, a beagle pug cross, a little over a year ago and wow was I not expecting a dog to be that much work. Luckily we did enroll her into puppy classes which helped a lot with behavior issues. I still haven’t managed the jumping up on people thing yet, but we’re working on it. I find most of the time when Cooper is acting up it’s not because she is a bad dog, it’s that I need to spend more time with her, giving her the oportunity to exercise and play.

    It must be the beagle thing to do to eat prescrition glasses; my pooch ate a $400 pair of glasses!! I love the metro pet mart I just need to win a small lottery before I can afford to buy anything more than a couple raw hide bones.

    Comment by Bradie — February 3, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

    • I find the same thing with my dogs. If I have a busy week and do not get enough time to walk them or play with them they act up too, so sometimes I have to step back and not get mad when that happens because it really is my fault; not there’s!!

      Comment by debyj — February 5, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  2. Learning from dogs, who knew? Actually this is precisely the kind of thing we need to share with our students regularly. Nice reflection on a learning experience.

    Comment by Dean Shareski — February 3, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

  3. It seems so weird that we could learn so much from dogs but at the same time makes so much sense! I am curious if you would recommend and dog training books in particular? My parents got a bichon shitzu fris about a year ago and she is very much like Daisy. It does not matter what the object is or who the person is Abby is always doing something she shouldn’t be doing! They are just so cute though aren’t they!

    Comment by Nicole Reeve — February 4, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

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