Dogs are most popularly referred to as man’s best friend. They’ve earned the name over the years, and there’s a reason people don’t say that man is man’s best friend; we clearly aren’t. Man is closer to man’s worst enemy, which is unfortunate because we are the most dominant species on the planet (barring any alien intervention – see my article on predictions that came true and what may be to come).
Before we get into this, I want to say that obviously dogs are not smarter than humans. Dogs didn’t create the internet or smartphones or even chew toys and dog treats. Humans did all that. Our rational mind and problem solving skills have gotten us to where we are today, which is pretty dang impressive if you ask me. Meanwhile there’s a video online of a dog trying to cross a bridge with a huge stick in its mouth, only to be utterly flummoxed when he didn’t fit. It’s not a great look that we can put their brain in a figure-four when we pretend to throw a tennis ball. Humans are smarter – that’s not a question.
Dogs do have a certain inherent intelligence, though, that’s different from humans. They are much more intuitive, and are obviously more in-touch with their natural instincts. Some of their smarts come from pure ignorance of what’s going on, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something that can be learned from these friendly beasts. They aren’t as smart as humans in the traditional sense of the word, but humans have lost touch with many of the traits that we find so endearing in our canine companions.
15. Dogs Got Domesticated
If you’ve ever seen the first episode of the Cosmos reboot, then you’re aware of how dogs came to become man’s best friend. They weren’t put on this earth to be cuddled by cavemen; they developed this way through evolution. Dogs started out as wolves, which were not warm and cuddly but mean and dangerous. The wolves were positioned as rivals to the humans as predators, and would often fight man for the right to eat. Humans would win this battle, leaving the wolves to scavenge for their own food. Eventually, it became clear that it would be much more beneficial for the species if they became a human companion. They could help the human hunt and stay safe, and they would be rewarded with an all-you-can-eat buffet when it was dinner time. They began to develop traits that humans would find endearing or “cute,” and the more adorbs the dog the more chance that a human would come around and help them survive. Dogs were smart enough to know when they were bested. Humans have been the dominant species on this planet for a while now, but I doubt we would develop the same tendencies if a more dominant species were to arrive.
14. Dogs Live In The Moment
Dogs have enough of a memory to remember things like familiar smells and faces, actions that result in a treat and actions that result in a scolding, however they don’t have the detailed memories that humans have. Dogs use their memory as a tool for the present, not as a hindrance as so many humans do. They don’t let what happened yesterday get into their head and affect their behavior. The past is gone and all that matters is this moment in time. You could consider the human memory to be something that puts us ahead, but in many ways it prevents us from moving forward. A dog has the ability to enjoy every moment as if it were the only moment in time. There is a certain beauty to that, and if humans were able to separate a single moment from the rest of our experiences we might be better off.
13. Dogs Recognize The Need To Move
Humans can intellectually understand that we need to move to stay healthy, but we have the impeding quality to think of something else we’d rather be doing. For those humans who do stay active, there is a sort of anxiety that sets in when you haven’t exercised in a while, but so many of us are content to sit around for most (if not all) of the day. Dogs need to move. Their energy gets all pent-up, and they are going to move around whether it’s in your house or out at the park. Sure, there are fat dogs out there, but this is caused by their human’s lack of proper care. Dogs indulge in their natural need to move around and stay active. Humans could learn a lot by listening to their body instead of making excuses with our rational mind.
12. Dogs Are Happy When You’re Happy
Dogs are able to feel the vibes that humans are giving out much better than other humans can. It is likely part of their evolutionary development in becoming a human companion, but dogs are able to read a person’s feelings unlike anything humans can accomplish. If you’re happy, then your dog will be happy. There’s no circumstantial variables that matter, it’s as simple as sharing an emotion. A dog won’t wake up, see a smiling face and think “What the hell are they so cheery about?” They don’t get annoyed with the pleasure of others like so many of us human curmudgeons do. There’s no envy or falsehood; they are simply happy that you’re happy. This, of course, goes both ways, and if you’re angry then your dog is going to be on-edge, but this knowledge helps many dog owners control their emotions much better around their pup.
11. Dogs Aren’t Self-Conscious
Dogs never worry what anyone else is thinking of them. They don’t care if you think they did something stupid, they’ll wag their tail right along with you. Furthermore, dogs aren’t worried about what kind of dog they are. They don’t envy other breeds of dogs for their long legs or floppy ears. They don’t wish they were cuter or more tough looking. Most of the time, dog’s don’t even have a proper sense of self. I’ve seen dogs and cats alike get terrified or excited to see their own reflection, thinking it was another animal. Dogs don’t have the capability of any sort of self-awareness. While this doesn’t make them geniuses, if humans expressed an equal capability to forget their reservations then we would likely be having a much better time with our lives.
10. Dogs Stay Hydrated
Dogs know what their body needs, and most of the time this includes a healthy dose of water. They listen to what their body needs and instinctively take care of themselves. They don’t need to be told to drink more water. They drink until they feel hydrated and then get back to playing. Humans on the other hand, drink all sorts of crap that does nothing to hydrate us. Soda and sports drinks don’t take the place of water, and we often neglect what our body needs for what we think we’ll enjoy the most. We know all of the choices we have in beverage, and often neglect our health in favor of something sweet.
9. Dogs Are At Play Constantly
Dogs are always looking for a way to have some fun. They don’t get worried about something that they should be doing, they can just forget everything and play. Apart from this being a good source of exercise, playing is inherently positive for both humans and dogs. The problem is, so many humans are all business and no fun. Our rational minds tell us that we shouldn’t be wasting our time, and should instead be working to better ourselves. Even hobbies sometimes take the form of stressful work. Dogs have the ability to lose all inhibition and just have a good time. Humans have the capacity to do this, but we usually need a few beers in us before we start to loosen up.
8. Dogs Are Loyal
Dogs are naturally pack animals. They live in packs and protect their packs. A dog will step in when it sees a threat and attempt to protect their human from it. This is a natural instinct and part of the reason dogs are such great companions to humans. Humans are much more solitary in general. We have families, to which we are usually loyal, but our outside interactions are much more adversarial. Humans reason their way around being loyal all the time. “Would he help me if I were in his position?” “Sure, she’s great, but I like this other girl much more.” Even in family relationships we have the capability to betray one another. This is just not in a dog’s DNA. They would never betray their pack, and if we all treated each other with this same loyalty there would be much less altercation.
7. Dogs Forget
Dogs, as referenced above, are blessed with the ability to forget yesterday. This is most handy when it comes to holding grudges. Humans are terrific at holding grudges; probably the best on the planet. We can remember slights from ten years ago and rekindle our distaste for a person at the drop of a hat. Dogs, on the other hand, have the ability to forget what happened the day before. A dog won’t remember that they didn’t get a treat last night. They’ll wake up the next morning as happy and as loving as ever. Dogs won’t remember that you may have been snappy yesterday; they just know that you’re their friend and they want to make sure you know it.
6. Dogs Value The Journey
Dogs don’t think about where the car ride is going to take them (unless it’s the vet). They’re just happy to be alive. As humans, we get fixated on our goals. Goals are great when appropriate, but focusing too much on the destination will ruin the experience of the ride. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if your goal is met or not, as long as you had fun getting to a certain point. Over-thinking is one of the things we as humans are best at, and dogs are just blissfully ignorant of where they’re going to end up. This allows them to enjoy living life much more than we can. If all we see is the end of the race, we miss all of the moments that come before the finish line.
5. Dogs Learn What’s Important
It’s not like a dog is ever going to be fluent in English, but they know enough to understand what they need to. Dogs are capable of picking up words and phrases and understanding what they mean. They know when they are going for a walk or doing something that is about to get them a treat. Dogs learn the important words and don’t worry themselves with things they can’t control. They know what’s important: food, fun, treats and behavior. Some dogs even have the ability to memorize names of objects, allowing them to further assist their humans and thus receive more attention and reward. While, naturally, having the full linguistic spectrum at the tip of your fingers is necessary to live in a civilized human society, dogs are smart enough to understand what is needed and not get bogged-down with all of the little details.
4. Dogs Don’t Value Dominance
It’s a popular misconception that dogs follow the “alpha” role. Perhaps this is because of terms like “top dog,” which refer to dominance in the business world. This kind of thinking might be true with wolves, but even wild dogs value friendship over who the toughest dog in the pack is. There is a fair amount of jostling for position with feral dogs, but group of friendly dogs is much more likely to attract a fellow pack member then a group of terrifying beasts. A dog that shares his meal is much more likely to attract a following than one that takes it by force. They value companionship, and when they can find friends they are the most happy.
3. Dogs Don’t Overthink
While not everyone considers themselves to be an over-thinker, it’s a general problem that many of us deal with. We worry about how we seem to other people and how we’re going to be perceived. Maybe we wonder what our significant other is doing when they don’t text us back. Our minds are always moving at a-mile-a-minute and it’s often hard to get out of our own heads. Dogs don’t have this problem. They see a certain amount of cause-and-effect, but they don’t look at five steps down the road like many humans do. Critically thinking about a situation can be beneficial, but it can also be paralyzing. Dogs live in the now, and they don’t think about how the rest of the world is seeing them.
2. Dogs Detect Diseases And Other Ailments
There’s a reason why there’s no such thing as “service iguanas.” Dogs have the unique ability to detect when a person is suffering or in need of help. This varies by the breed, but dogs have been known to be able to tell when a person is about to suffer from a serious ailment before it even happens. Some dogs can tell when a person is about to have a seizure and can even help the person so that they don’t risk further injury. Some are even able to get help to an injured person, which is lifesaving in some cases. A human can certainly pick up the phone and dial 911, but no human is able to tell when something like a seizure is coming only by smell and intuition.
1. Dogs Love Unconditionally
Your dog is always going to love you more than anything in its world. Dogs know who puts food on the table, and unlike a cat that’s not the only reason they love you (I know some cat people may not like that statement but cats can be real b-words sometimes). Your dog won’t think of all your shortcomings as a person, and they’re always genuinely happy to see you. They love love, and no one provides love to a human like a dog will. There’s no condition for a dog to love you; a dog doesn’t care if you develop an annoying tendency or bad habit. They will never storm off in frustration when they don’t get the response they were looking for. They will continue to love you no matter what. It’s a beautiful thing, and a lot of people would benefit from this kind of love and loyalty.