I caught this headline in the newsfeed today: “In a first, scientists show that dogs can smell when humans are stressed.”
Who could’ve imagined…other than anyone who’s ever lived with a dog? On a serious note, it is reassuring that science has been able to verify and quantify what most of us already know about our dogs just by looking into their eyes. Throughout my life with dogs, that is the only evidence I have ever needed.
Dog perpetually monitor our emotions. They listen on a very deep level. Through their noses, they smell our every thought and mood. When we are stressed, they sense it and feel it themselves. They seek to comfort and assist. Their love is unconditional, which is a rare thing in our world. They are better than us on the things that would make us better human beings and they lead by example, mirroring a better way for us to be.
Our dogs talk to us all the time. They ask questions with their eyes. They emphasize their points with verbal cues and physical touch, especially when there’s a dog treat in the offing! They grieve with us when we grieve, they comfort and protect us when we are afraid, and they share our joy when we feel joy. To a human who’s paying attention, there’s a complete ongoing dialogue going back and forth between us and our dogs. It’s validating to see the scientific community catching up and gaining more insight into the power and importance of dogs in our lives.
To all you dog lovers out there, I challenge you to hold up your end of the conversation. Be mindful that when you talk to your dog, he listens. There has been other scientific research demonstrating the capability of dogs to develop an extensive vocabulary of human language. It’s not our imagination when we think our dogs understand…because they actually do!
When we are with our dogs we are never alone. When we are in conversation with our dogs, we are never dismissed nor undervalued. When a dog is loved he loves back with a deep and abiding spirit. Dogs are a mirror of the best that we can hope to be.
As our daily companions, don’t we owe it to our dogs to validate the gifts they bring to our lives and to respond in kind? Perhaps our stress, when felt by our dogs, is not just a shared burden but an invitation to better care for ourselves? That daily walk, or even better, that Free Range hike off-leash with your pal can reduce your symptoms of stress and bring joy to you both.
Recognizing that your dog is always there for you and in many ways reflects yourself and your life can serve to make both of your lives better and happier. A dog can bring us exercise, connection with others, awareness of and improvement of both our physical and mental health, and a faithful, loving and comforting companion. We really don’t need scientists to tell us this, we know it in our hearts and souls.
Please go to freerangedogs.com to book an online consultation or in-person training. Learn how you and your dog can enjoy the Free Range Dog lifestyle: hiking off-leash safely and confidently! I look forward to connecting with you!