Furry, playful, loyal: Dogs truly are man’s – and woman’s – best friend. Something about these fluffy creatures makes our hearts melt, brings out the inner child, and plain makes us happy.

How much brighter would our lives be if we treated people around us with the same tolerance and unconditional love we give our sweet, albeit sometimes smelly, companions?

Here are six things I learned from my dog that help me love my fellow human just a little bit more.

1. Dogs (and people) need a lot of attention

pug dog thinking

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When it comes to pets, their humans really are their entire lives.

People tend to be a little less needy; but relationships require attention, nonetheless. We all have that relative who talks a little too long on the phone or the friend who always has a new issue to analyze together. Ties that take a lot of effort can be exhausting, but putting in the time to listen and be encouraging is a major foundation in all relationships. It’s also just the kind thing to do.

2. Dogs (and people) really want to please you

dog shredded paper

Image via Morguefile under the Morguefile License

Dogs just want to know “who’s a good boy,” even though sometimes, they chew up our laptop cords and pull garbage out of the trashcan.

As people, we make mistakes, too – all the time, really. But it can be hard to hide the disappointment we feel when people let us down, regardless of their intentions. It’s important to remember that, deep down, we all just want to please the people important to us. Try to cut people some slack instead of making them feel bad for simple mistakes; you will appreciate the same when you’re the one who (inevitably) slips up.

3. Dogs (and people) have to play

dog puppy playing in sand

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Everything with a dog needs to be fun. They don’t watch TV, read books, or have conversations with their friends, so taking them out to play fetch or a little horseplay in the house is a requirement.

It’s always better if you make things fun with the people around you, too. Maybe you and your coworkers are under a deadline or you’re stressed by a home renovation with your partner; try to maintain a positive attitude, insert a little humor, and be lighthearted in your interactions. You know what they say about “all work and no play…”

4. Dogs (and people) require praise

dog tongue out playing

Image via Pixabay under license CC0

If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know that you praise just about anything good they do: when they respond to their name, pee in the right spot, let go (on command) of the oh-so-delicious piece of lint they sneakily snatched up while you were moving the laundry.

It’s nice to be appreciated for what you do, even if it’s what you’re already supposed to do. When someone does something right, it’s not only polite but really necessary to notice and thank them for their efforts.

5. Dogs (and people) want physical touch

dog chihuahua belly rubs

Image via Morguefile under the Morguefile License

People really love getting their backs scratched, their hair brushed, their bellies rubbed…wait, that’s dogs.

But being generous with hugs, and even high fives, for our human friends and family is also pretty important. According to Greater Good, people benefit greatly, both emotionally and physically, from human touch; it’s one way that we communicate compassion. For some, conveying these feelings with words may be difficult; but a hug can say and mean just as much.

6. Dogs (and people) have limited time with us

old dog black and white

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We tend to spoil our animals. We give them extra treats, carry them when they get tired, let them sleep in our beds or sit up on the sofa, all because we know they have such a short time here with us.

We never know how much time we have with our human loved ones, either. Celebrate the small stuff. Be enthusiastic about everything, especially for seemingly insignificant events. Most importantly, just be there. If we were lucky enough to get 100 years with those we care about, it still would never be enough.

My dog, Angus

My dog, Angus