Life Lessons from Dogs: 10 Ways to Live Happier

Sometimes life gets complicated and messy. That’s when I look to my canine friends, who never seem weighed down with our troubles. Here are 10 life lessons I learned from my dogs, to live a happier life.

1. Enjoy long walks

Let it be about the journey, not simply the destination. Slow down. Stop and admire the flowers, listen for birds (they’re especially active early in the morning). In today’s culture of constant hustle, slowing down to savor those simple moments can be refreshing.

Watch your dog when you’re out for a walk, see how she wants to stop to sniff all the things? She’s trying to tell you the good stuff’s right under your nose.

Life Lessons from Dogs Shadow Dog Photography

2. Exercise improves your mood

Science shows that shortly after moderate exercise, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a better mood. Read more here from American Psychological Association. So grab the leash, lace up your shoes, and get moving with your pup.

My two German Shepherds keep me moving every day. When they were younger, both Targa and Scout were great running partners. Although they no longer run, they still enjoy a nice leisurely walk.

3. Routine is good

Can your dog tell time? I’ll bet he knows, within 32 seconds, when dinner is LATE. That’s because of his mealtime routine. I don’t know about you, but I thrive on routine. A regular routine creates a habit, and the brain loves habits since this means thinking and processing less, which saves energy.

Dogs are all about saving energy, which is why this is an important life lesson. Read “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg to learn how habits impact your life.

4. Treasure close friendships

To say that my two dogs are very selective with their friends is a huge understatement. They don’t really like many others at all, so their social circle is SMALL. But that’s okay, it’s their small circle, and it’s special to them. When I look at Targa and Scout and see how happy they are, even with our small family, I see the importance of quality over quantity.

One of the key life lessons from my dogs is that you don’t need lots of friends. A few really close ones can be just as meaningful.

Rescued Dogs at Alberts Dog Lounge in Whitewater Wisconsin

5. Snacks are good

This, in my opinion, is one of the key ways to live a happy life. Have you noticed how excited your pup gets when you pull out a treat?

I don’t know about you, but a delicious or surprising snack can make my day. Sometimes it’s the little things in life. My dogs constantly remind me of that one.

6. Enjoy the pure joy of play

Whether your children are two-legged or four, you can’t ignore the joy that comes with play. Put away your phone, roll up your sleeves, and get in there and have some fun.


  • fetch (or catch for us humans)
  • frisbee
  • chase (dogs and kids love this one)
  • digging in the sand

What is it that excites you or your dog? Get out there and celebrate the fun stuff right alongside your furry best friend.

7. Keep learning new things

If you have a working breed, such as a German Shepherd, Border Collie, or Beagle to name a few, you know the importance of always learning. A dog thrives on learning new things, whether it’s a new trick, a new hiding place for treats, or a new puzzle toy.

What’s something that interests you? What can you learn about it right now? The internet is an amazing resource of endless information. Just be careful not to get stuck in the research – be sure to take action and implement something you learn.

8. Live in the moment

Of all the life lessons I’ve learned from my dogs, this one’s big. Look at any rescued dog and you’ll see what I mean. These adopted dogs go on to live happy lives, and seem to make the most of each and every day.

With all of our responsibilities in life it’s easy to forget this lesson. My dogs remind me to practice this one every single day.

A Happy Dachshund Mix at Shadow Dog Photography

9. Naps are good

Maybe it’s on the couch, a soft dog bed with a blanket (or three), in a sunbeam, or on your lap. Dogs know the importance of a good nap! I’m still working on this one.

10. It’s only rain

Don’t be afraid to get wet (even if your ears stand up). I know some dogs are a bit particular about rain, but Targa and Scout don’t hesitate to get out there and get wet. I have lots of towels ready for our return home.

Somehow I always feel better after a walk in the rain. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t let the wet weather stop me. Who knows?

A Brittany living life at Shadow Dog Photography in Whitewater Wisconsin

Looking to celebrate the joy of living with your four-legged best friend? Schedule a custom photo session for you and your pup, and see how the final portraits bring you a new level of joy. GET IN TOUCH HERE to learn more.

This post is part of a blog circle with other fabulous photographers around the globe. Up next: Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography, Dallas – Fort Worth dog photographer, wants you to know that yes, we can photograph your pets in your own backyard. LINK:…/happiness-is…

Keep clicking at the bottom of each post until you end up right back here in the Shadow Dog pack. Enjoy!

Hi, I'm Jan

I help dog parents celebrate their best friends with adventurous portrait sessions and extraordinary artwork for their home. Tail wags and smiles guaranteed! Based in Whitewater, WI.


  1. Tracy Allard

    Great list and I love the accompanying photographs – they’re perfect. The little Chi with his tongue is adorable and the terrier at the top made me smile.

  2. Angela Schneider

    These life lessons are great. I love how Bella demands I be in the moment with her. She doesn’t give me much choice.

    • Jan Bezzo

      Those will probably be the moments you treasure most some day. 🙂

  3. Terri Jankelow

    Great life lessons from dogs. I wrote a blog post on this topic last year. We really can learn a lot from our dogs.

    • Jan Bezzo

      They’re incredibly good teachers.

  4. Courtney Bryson

    Great tips. Watching my dogs always helps bring me back to the moment.

    • Jan Bezzo

      Our dogs are such good teachers…


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