Learn From Your Dog // Life Lessons

Let’s be honest…not everyone is in love with the four-legged furry creatures that are dogs. Some of us are more into cats and others straight up prefer humans. That said, very few people can deny the joy + laughter they feel creeping up when they see a dog having a fan-freaking-tastic time frolicking along a trail or chasing after a frisbee. That endless energy + constant giddy state of happiness is what dogs are all about.


While I am still adamantly a cat person there are definitely a few life lessons to be learned from a dog. Not being a dog owner myself, I’ve gotten my dog fix by spending the last few weeks dog sitting + this is what Ladybug, Tazzy, Oliver + Max taught me about life.

Wake Up Happy

Seriously, though. Have you ever seen a dog wake up in a bad mood? They’re always immediately prepared to seize the day. With a dog in the house you simply need to acknowledge you’re away + the dog is ready to head outside for a jaunt along the trails. There was no dragging feet or hiding under the cozy covers or procrastinating by scavenging for food. We were awake…now we must adventure!

More importantly, their energy is infectious! It is quite literally impossible to be around a happy dog at 5am + not feel some level of joy for life. You might not want to head outside for an impromptu 10 mile run but at some point you’ll feel a smile creep onto you face even as your eyes struggle to stay open.

For those of us not lucky enough to have a dog in our lives every single day we really need to figure out how to channel that daily optimism into our mornings. It’s been said an IV drip of coffee is a good start…


Everything is an Adventure

“Let’s go for a walk” leads to a immediate dog freak out. We can only guess what they’re thinking but it probably goes something like “Ohemgeeeeeeee, outside time! Leaves! Dirt! Sticks! I. CAN. NOT. WAIT.” at the vocal octave of a pre-teen girl getting her hands on tickets to see One Direction [they’re still a big deal, right!?]. Yes, even the burly German Shepherds + rugged mountain-mix dogs think in that voice when they’re excited about life. Obviously.

Everything is exciting for dogs. Sure, they’ve scampered along the same trail every morning for the past 3 years but maybe there’s something new today! Maybe a new dog came to visit + there is a new bush to re-claim. Maybe a new stick was left behind, offering itself up as a new chew toy. Maybe the entire trail flooded + we have to battle for our lives to return home. Who knows!? Not us…until we get out there to check it all out.

We all have seemingly boring routines we trudge through every. single. day. but if we approach life with just a little inkling of a dog’s “everything is an adventure” mentality our morning commute won’t be so boring + we’ll find a little something to make that unnecessary weekly meeting seem worthwhile. But first, we have to find the energy to get that excited over the little things. We may need to start with that aforementioned IV drip of coffee…


Food Makes Everything Better

With very few exceptions all dogs are jazzed up about food. Most dogs eat the same meal every day for years, yet they still bounce around the room every time you dig into the food bin. Not to mention the sound of a treat bag opening…that creates a whole new level of happy dancing. Why dogs get this excited about the same meals + treats remains a mystery but we can probably learn from it. Food is awesome.

Food makes bad days better + food makes the world go round. Maybe it’s whats in the dog food [you test it out + get back to us] but let’s just focus on the general concept of food. Food + its nutrients are an obvious necessity in our day to day life but if we can gather anything from a dog’s perspective on life…food can be so much more! Just like mornings, we need to let food be awesome + exciting. Even if the food itself isn’t the best thing on the planet, let’s get excited about the meal times + snack breaks of life.

Take a real lunch + abandon your desk for a full 30 minutes. Plan a dinner with a friend + leave your cell phones in your pocket on silent. Go on a coffee run mid-morning to get away from the chaos of the office + rejuvenate in the sunshine. Pop that popcorn at 9pm simply because you had a craving. Get back to the world of enjoying food because if a dog can get jazzed up about a daily “snack” of medication infused cream cheese you can find a bit of happiness in your lunch.


Nap Every Chance You Get

This little tip might be better attributed to cats + their notorious cat naps but have you ever spent a day with a dog?! They are always napping! If they aren’t running in circles waiting for you to lace up your running shoes they’re napping. They fall asleep in the car as you drive to the trailhead. They nap on the couch while you fold laundry. They snooze under a tree while you eat a trail side snack.

While we’re not quite lucky enough to have that many napping opportunities [someone has to drive the car, fold the laundry + eat the trail snacks!] we should stop feeling guilty about being tired + embrace the nap! If we’re feeling a little extra exhausted maybe a nap will do us more good than powering through another hour of housework? Besides, you’ve earned that nap with a sleepless night or an early morning run or a long week of spreadsheets in the office. You’re tired for a reason…let your inner dog shine + curl up on the couch for a few minutes. Or hours. Who’s judging? Not your dog!

If only we could abandon all of life’s mundane responsibilities + nap away our free time. This actually explains a dog’s energy better than the IV drip of coffee…

Now, dogs are still animals + they have a lot of life luxuries we do not [like a human to feed them!] but we can learn a lot from a happy dog. Need more happy dog in your life? Hit up a local shelter + see if they need any dog walkers [they do, we promise!]. If you want to see a happy dog be the person that breaks them out of a shelter kennel for a half hour…all their troubles are immediately abandoned + you’re their favorite living thing on the planet. Aside from that squirrel they MUST chase after…

About the Author


Heidi Kumm

Heidi Kumm is a trail runner, world traveler, mountain climber, and all around adventure enthusiast. She is so stoked on adventure that she has made it her career as the owner of Adventure Feet First, a travel company that focuses on getting people outside to explore the world around them. Over the past years Heidi has spent months living abroad, volunteering around the world, living out of a van/car/truck, and finding new ways to explore on foot, by bike, or with a backpack. She has learned the ins and outs of self propelled exploration the hard way, so she's here to help us learn from her mistakes and to help us become more informed on how to make your own mistakes, safely.