What your dog can teach you about how to live, move & interact

DogThis happy little guy is Odie. I never thought 12 months ago that rescuing a dog would lead to a philosophical revolution but over the last year things have become blatantly obvious about this crazy little guy.

Odie may not know it but he is a perfect representation of how we should be living our lives, moving & interacting with each other.

But to him; he is just being a dog.

People should be more like dogs (not in a lick yourself kind of way, but more in a how you treat yourself & others kind of way).

Every morning when the alarm goes off I wake up and find he has somehow found his way into the bedroom and is curled up asleep in a ball, nestled in between my feet. After hitting snooze once or twice I try to gently roll out of bed and not disturb him. It never works. He knows that once I am up getting breakfast ready; that is his chance to score some food. He follows me as I walk over to the cupboard to pull out his food. When I turn to look at him…

REALISATION 1 - STRETCH LESS, MORE OFTEN
He is in the middle of an intense downward dog (I guess thats where the name comes from). He had spent all night curled up into a tight little ball and needs to open his spine, muscles, joints and ligaments. This isn't the only time of day he will do this. Almost every time he gets up from a stationary position through out the day there will be some form of stretch, shake or hop to get moving. He never stretches before he goes for a run, or after a walk. Only after he has been hunched over in a less natural position for a lengthy period of time.
When was the last time you stretched? After you finished your run or when you are warming up for your gym session? What about purely because you have been sitting at your desk for 4 hours straight or spent the last 45 minutes staring down at your phone screen.
Stretching shouldn't just be to prepare your body to move; it should be to restore your body after being stuck in shitty positions for long periods.

Next, poor Odie is a little bit of a sensitive character, in particular his stomach. Despite having a penchant for wanting to eat pretty much anything he can get his little paws into (even stealing apples out of the fruit bowl when we aren't home). The little guy has what the Vet described as the doggy version of something like IBS or Chrohns. Now despite the fact that eating a left over pizza will lead to diarrhoea & cause him to throw up. He is determined to sink his teeth into it, even if he has been feed 3 minutes prior…

REALISATION 2 - DON’T EAT SHIT FOOD
“Eat shit, feel shit.” its a pretty simple concept.
We eat food we know is unhealthy for us, because we tell ourselves we enjoy the taste or the experience. Every time you eat, you are either feeding disease or fighting it. We know the pizza, burgers & doughnuts aren't good for us. They may taste amazing and look great to post on instagram, but on the inside they are causing mayhem on your gut health. We have just become so accustomed to feeling like shit from the food we consume we don't notice.
Have you ever stuck to a diet for 3-4 weeks, then after your first McDonalds trip, how bad do you feel?
We also grossly over consume food, have you ever seen what the actual recommend serving size for protein, fats and carbohydrates actually looks like? Google image search food serving size, you will be shocked.

After a long day at work I shuffle home tired, a little cranky & ready to flake it on the couch. I open the door, Odie stops what he was doing (usually chowing down on the apple he stole from the table) looks at me and bolts straight at me, gives me couple of quick licks and then precedes to run laps up and down the hallway for 2 minutes, stopping occasionally just to lick me again. Suddenly I feel happy, relaxed and ready to chill…

REALISATION 3 - BE GENUINELY HAPPY TO SEE PEOPLE
The effect your behaviour can have on the people you come across everyday is huge. A smile, a simple gesture, or a friendly disposition can alter the course of someone else's day instantly. Unfortunately we are coming to a day and age where we prefer to interact over a screen or in text rather than in person.
Whether it has been an hour or a year, being genuinely happy to see people when you meet with them sets a positive vibe that is sure to rub off and make for a much more pleasant experience for those around you, which in turn reflects back to you.

Once Odie calms down a little I take a look around the house and there is crap everywhere. He has clearly been up to no good while we have been out. The cushions from the couch are on the floor, items from the bedside table are on the ground and obviously there is a half eaten apple somewhere. The funny thing is; this only tends to happen on the days he hasn't been walked in the morning…

REALISATION 4 - EXERCISE CALMS YOU DOWN
We spend so much of our day running around stressed out of our minds trying to meet deadlines, get our work done & be productive. Often the first thing to get pushed to the side when we are under the pump is our own health. We skip lunch or get in to the office early/stay late sacrificing our valuable time that we would usually spend exercising.
One of the best productivity boosters you could ask for is movement/exercise for a number of reasons. Firstly taking time away from the problems we are working on can be the perfect catalyst to see things from a different angle and find a solution we haven't been able to previously see. Increasing blood flow around your body through exercise can leave you more motivated, productive & engaged when you return to the task at hand through increased brain function, energy levels and decreased stress.
So the most important thing you could do in time of high demand and stress is to take an exercise break.

After we get home from our walk, and we are sitting the couch watching a little Netflix or reading a book to wind down. Odie, after being almost asleep with one paw resting on my thigh (just to make sure I know he is there). Out of the blue will jump up run over to his ball and start chasing it around the lounge room floor; rolling, chewing and growling at it. He will bring the slobber covered ball over to me and place it in my hand to throw or play tug-o-war…

REALISATION 5 - PLAY
When we ‘grow up’ we lose one of the most basic childhood joys that we all experienced. The fun & release of just playing and having fun for no reason. Enjoying yourself, learning new skills, laughing at nothing. I’m not saying as grown adult you should roll down a hill, and eat bugs but find a swing set and swing, throw a ball with a friend, think back to your favourite childhood activity and go try it. See how it makes you feel. Life isn't meant to be serious all the time it is meant to be enjoyed! Play has also shown to be beneficial to enhance creativity, problem solving and fuel your imagination.

If your dog is anything like mine there is so much wisdom in their innocence. Spend some time observing them you might just learn a thing or two.




Nathan Tieppo
Nathan Tieppo

Author

As the founder and head trainer at Momentum PT and with a wealth of knowledge from a variety of industry roles over the last 12 years Nathan has the knowledge and experience to pass on. Nathan specialises in sport specific preparation for athletes at all levels.