Daily Gratitude With A Dog Improves Health

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Learn how to practice daily gratitude with your dog and improve your health? What does that mean?  Gratitude may seem like a simple thing. We all hear it a lot in different forms, “I’m grateful for…” Or maybe “I have a gratitude journal.” Perhaps in a genetic form like, “I practice gratitude.”

But do you know what it means to be grateful or have gratitude for something? Do you know the benefits of practicing gratitude? Let’s explore all this and learn how to practice daily gratitude with your dog.

What does it mean to practice daily gratitude?

It simply means you are expressing a sense of thanksgiving for a person or thing. Whatever you find to be thankful for during your day or at a moment. Such as a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning dog walk. Or it can be more complex or intimate. Perhaps something like “I’m grateful for my partner’s love and support on the days when I don’t love myself.” 

That sounds easy enough. But is there any real benefit to having a sense of gratitude or expressing your gratefulness? 

Benefits of Daily Gratitude

Yes, there are many benefits to being grateful. They generally fall into five main categories:

  • Emotional – a greater feeling of happiness  
  • Social – improve relationships 
  • Personality – better outlook on life
  • Career – reduces stress
  • Health – overall better physical health

Intrigued by the positive impacts of gratitude? Here’s one more to think about.

 

Daily Gratitude Changes the Brain

“It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness.” ~ Positive Psychology

By being grateful, having an optimistic outlook, and activating the “feel good” hormones, among other positive impacts, the chemical makeup in the brain is changed. And for the better. Amazing, huh? Now, how’s that for some good medicine? 

The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA stated that gratitude does change the neural structures in the brain, and makes us feel happier and more content. Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system. ~ Positive Psychology

What are the benefits that a dog provides to its human?

Dogs provide a multitude of benefits for their owners. Here are just a few of the top ones:

1. Keep dog parents active and moving

2. Never alone and dog parent is needed

3. Provide a bouncing board and someone to talk to, which can enhance brain power

In this article, I talk about how self-talk with your dog helps strengthen your brain. 

4. Social butterfly for the dog parent – make friends with people otherwise dog parent wouldn’t know

5. Reduce dog parent level of stress 

In this article, I talk about how to destress with your dog.

 

How to practice daily gratitude with your dog

Have the benefits of practicing gratitude piqued your interest? Want to learn how to practice it? While gratitude isn’t limited to just your dog, it is a good, and easy way to include your dog in your daily gratitude practices. Plus, as just described dogs provide their own unique benefits to their humans.

Besides, most of us see our pets first thing in the morning with a wet nose alarm greeting. So it’s easy to be grateful to them first and then expand our gratitude list and practice. 

Here are a few dog gratitude examples:

I’m grateful …

  • for your wet nose alarm in the morning.
  • you picked me to be your family.
  • we get to walk together every day.
  • you show me how to see joy in simple things such as throwing a ball.
  • for petting your soft fur.
  • you don’t pee in the house anymore.
  • for your carefree attitude toward life. I learn a lot from you.
  • you’re willing to share your life with me. 
  • that when I need you somehow you’re always around. 
  • you love to be hugged and loved. 

 

Of course, you don’t need to use any of these. Think of these as a sort of brainstorming list of gratitude thoughts. You can create your own and then expand on it. I like to use at least three statements of gratitude to start my day. But you could use a lot more. I often do even, especially if I’m feeling down and need extra help. I’ll specifically look for things that I’m grateful for to remind myself of everything that is amazing in my life. It’s a trick I use to shift out of a little dip into a blue state. 

 

However, don’t forget all the other things even beyond your dog and pet that you are grateful for each day. It could be the sun beating on your face. The wind whips through your hair. Your child’s drawing. The touch of your spouse as you run out the door. Or even your favorite song on the radio as you run errands. These are all things to be grateful for every day. 

 

How do you express daily gratitude?

There are many ways to express gratitude. Each is valid. You will need to find what works best for you.

1. Verbal 

Basically, this means saying what you are grateful for out loud. It doesn’t necessarily have to be to the person. It just has to be out loud so YOUR brain hears it. However, there are added benefits when said to the person or thing. Such as you feel the gratitude returned to you. 

2. Journal 

Writing what you are grateful for allows your brain to absorb your gratitude on another level. Plus, the other great part of journaling or writing your gratitude is that it’s a recording. You can then go back and see what you were grateful for at any point in time, which can also add a boost to your self-esteem when you’re feeling low. 

3. Thank you notes

This is a combination of verbal and journaling. You are writing gratitude to one person. While you can’t go back and review it later or receive additional gratitude from writing it, the person that receives it can get a deeper sense of your gratitude. It will provide that person boost to their self-esteem. 

4. Gratitude jar 

Personally, I love gratitude jars. These are little time capsules. If you write what you are grateful for on a small note and put it into a jar (like a mason jar), then you can pull it out anytime you feel down and need a pick-me-up. It can immediately bring a smile to your face remembering all the times you were grateful.

A gratitude jar is especially great to open on New Year’s to review the year in gratitude. I also make a note of how many times my dog or other animals pop up in my jar. It always makes me giggle. 

 

Whichever way you express your daily gratitude the key is to be consistent. In other words, do it every day. If you opt for a journal or gratitude jar, I always recommend reviewing them at least at the end of the year.

Most people get melancholy at the end of each year, but a quick review of your gratitude journal or jar will make you realize that the year wasn’t so bad. It will also give you added hope for the new year. Even a review of a difficult week will show you that you had a lot to be grateful for during the week. 

 

Should kids practice gratitude daily?

The benefits to children who practice gratitude daily with parents are amazing. 

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, is considered an expert in the scientific world of gratitude. Dr. Emmons notes that children who practice gratitude experience significant benefits, including being optimistic, kind, physically healthier, less stressed, able to handle stress better, sleeping well, and can live up to 7 years longer. Those are some amazing benefits! This is certainly a ringing endorsement for kids, even young kids, to practice daily gratitude. 

 

Still, stumped where to start? No need to worry.

 

Here’s a very easy way for you and your family to begin a practice of daily gratitude with your dog.

 

Budget Tip:

There’s only an upside to practicing gratitude with your dog daily. It helps you to be more positive and there’s no money spent. Plus, you get to bond with your dog. This is a major budget bonus! 

 

Summary of Practicing Daily Gratitude With Your Dog 

When you combine daily gratitude benefits in general, with those benefits of a dog, you have a powerful combination. There is no age limitation to practicing gratitude. In fact, the earlier you start with a gratitude practice, the better. The benefits are wide and long-lasting.

While you don’t need to limit yourself to being grateful for only your dog or pet, it’s a good jumping-off point each day, especially since the wet nose is generally most of our alarms. At the end of the day, take a couple of minutes to reflect on all you were grateful from the time your furry buddy woke you. Help your children begin their practice. They can start with as simple as pictures and talking. Gratitude is free, has no negative side effects, and it’s easy. What more can anyone want?  

 

Do you have a daily gratitude practice? How has being grateful worked for you?

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About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

19 thoughts on “Daily Gratitude With A Dog Improves Health”

  1. Pinning and sharing this! I don’t have a dog, however, have had cats (who have earned their angel wings). I can definitely relate to gratitude and the unconditional love and joy our pets bring to make our lives better and help us be better humans. I love all your ways of showing gratitude. If I had to add one more thing, I’d say ” Belly rubs”! Pets give us so much love and beyond. We surely don’t deserve them and are truly blessed to have them share our life journey together!

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    • I am grateful to give my Henry belly rubs too. I’m always amazed at how he lays there and almost drifts off into sleep land. Then when I stop he looks at me as to say, “no don’t stop yet.” I am very grateful also for the cats I’ve had and loved. Cats have their own calming and magical powers. I love the way cats purr and stroke us with their full bodies when we are standing. I absolutely agree do make our lives better. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Lovely post. There are SO many ways pets can make our lives better, gratitude being one of them. I am very thankful for my two dogs, and try to show them that everyday.

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  3. I am grateful for Layla making me laugh daily with her quirks as she is such a clown, plus getting me out of the house to the dog parks and inter acting with other dog people

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    • I’m sure Layla does make you laugh, which has a lot of great benefits. It certainly sounds like you have a terrific practice of gratitude with Layla. I’m glad you have Layla and she has you. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I’m grateful for my puppy Artemis! She wrote the book on unconditional love! She is seldom leaves my side! She is also an Ambassador for Pitbull’s because she is so very friendly to everyone she meets, she is changing people’s mind about these misunderstood pups! There are pictures and stories on my website!

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    • That’s wonderful that Artemis reminds you to be grateful daily. It sounds like she teaches other to be grateful as well. That’s terrific! She’s adorable too! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I feel like I could take more time to be mindfully grateful for all aspects of my – including life with my dogs. I always try to make sure to take time for just my dogs each day during our morning walks where I can give them 100% of my attention and show them how grateful I am for all their love. But I honestly wish I could do more. Thank you for this post, and these tips!

    Reply
    • A daily gratitude practice doesn’t have to take a lot of time. The time you take with your dogs at the park is a great start. I encourage you to take a bit of time at the end of the day to reflect on a few moments you were grateful for during the day. If you even put a note in a jar next to your bed, which doesn’t take much effort, you can pull out the jar and look at it on days you feel you weren’t so grateful. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We’re on human. We just have to find ways to remind ourselves that we can easily get through the rough spots by remembering the sparkling moments. You’re doing a great job! Thanks for sharing!

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    • Pets are very good way to start your gratitude. They definitely do make life better. I completely agree! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. My Headscape meditation app suggested a gratitude notebook. In it you put three things you have been grateful for that day. Doesn’t need to be big things either, which is why I loved you mentioning the sun and wind. They can be a spirit lifter when you take your dog for a walk and it takes you completely out of yourself.

    We all need this kind of mental holiday. Not for hours, days and weeks but for a few minuts each day.

    Reply
    • That’s exactly it! Having a practice of gratitude and being grateful doesn’t have to be a chore. You’ve totally got the idea! I love that you meditate as well! I start each daily with meditation. Sometimes, I even meditate outside (my favorite) while my dog, Henry, is at my side. It’s a great way to start the day and connect with your furry friends. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

      Reply
    • Try a gratitude jar. I really like gratitude jars. You can keep it by your bedside and quickly jot a few notes in it at the end of the day. Shoot for three things to be grateful for each day. The best part is that on days when you’re feeling down, you can reach over, and pull out all the memories of beautiful moments of gratitude. Oh, one more tip is to date the little notes. I think it helps to put things in time when you’re fishing them out of the jar. I hope you give it a try. Don’t feel like you have to do it everyday. But seeing it will help you remember too. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. I need to remember this for both myself and my cats. I’m the caretaker of two elderly parents – one who has Alzheimer’s. I come home exhausted at night and feeling blue. My cats always help me feel better, so that is definitely something I need to be grateful for.

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    • I can empathize with you. It’s not easy to be a caretaker. I took care of my mom for years. She had Parkinsons, in a wheelchair, legally blind, which a host of other medical issues. I had cats too when I took care of my mom. They are very easy to adapt to a situation, yet they give back in ways that can’t even be measured. I know it can be easy to fall into a blue spots as a caretaker. I really encourage you to mindfully be grateful each day. I even posted notes by my bedside that said “I am grateful for…” So I would start each day with a grateful thought. Definitely, cuddle with your cats when you need a grateful moment. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

      Reply

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