1. Dogs remind us to play. Especially as puppies, dogs know that play is the best way to explore the world. If you need a reminder about the value of play, check out the Top 10 Reasons to Play.
2. Training a dog gives you practical lessons in how to reward and motivate yourself to keep writing.
4. Dogs are excellent listeners. Just as therapy dogs in schools help kids learn how to read better, reading what you’re working on to a dog can help you write better.
6. Dogs require consistency and a regular schedule of potty breaks, feeding times, exercise, play and rest. Essayist and artist Jean Cook observes, “When I’m really absorbed in what I’m writing or editing and losing track of time, Luci reminds me to take a break to feed her dinner, and to have some myself.”
7. Dogs teach us Zen. Balancing the regularity in #6 with the flexibility to live in the present moment is a great antidote to writing resistance, which thrives in the extremes of chaotic, inconsistent environments on the one hand and rigid, overscheduled, overcommitted situations on the other hand.
8. Dogs remind us when it’s time to stop working. If I try to sneak in extra time in my office in the evenings, Blue always shows up with a tennis ball and insists I play with her instead.
9. Dogs are great role models for napping. Dogs sleep about 16 hours a day, which might be excessive. but it’s a step in the right direction for many of us. Sleep deprivation interferes with creativity and causes writer’s block. On the other hand, really creative people tend to be great nappers (Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt are prime examples). Napping has been shown to increase creative thinking.
10. Dogs keep us young. As dogs evolved from wolves, they adapted to live and partner with humans. One of the adaptations was developing “neoteny,” the tendency to retain juvenile characteristics into adulthood. Dogs are wolf pups that never really grow up. As dogs evolved to live with humans, humans evolved to live with dogs, and one of the gifts of our partnership is that humans acquired a bit of neoteny as well. Compared to other primates, humans have a much longer childhood and adolescence. Being with a dog keeps you young in body, mind and spirit.
Bonus 11. Not only will dogs never criticize your writing, they love you and your writing unconditionally. Unless of course, you try to sneak in extra time in the office, in which case your dog will eat your homework.