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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Top Ten Reasons Dogs Are a Writer’s Best Friend

dog play1.  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.

dogs take us for walks3.  A dog will take you for a walk everyday. Walking is an outstanding way to move yourself out of writing resistance.

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.

dogs never criticize5.  Dogs never criticize your writing.

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.”

dogs teach us to live in the present7.  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.

dogs show when and how to nap9.  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.

dogs keep us young10.  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.

Dogs remind us to stop workingBonus 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.


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11 Comments on “Top Ten Reasons Dogs Are a Writer’s Best Friend”

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  4. Fredi April 24, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I just realised my kids used to do all that until they reached adolescence 😉


    • rosannebane April 25, 2014 at 9:48 am #

      Fredi: So now that your kids are adolescents, where will you get these benefits?


  5. it's still raw April 22, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    There’s one catch. And it’s a biggie.


    Love to anyone else still and maybe always mourning.


    • rosannebane April 23, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      It’s Still Raw, you’re absolutely right — it’s a big catch. Loving a dog will break your heart. When I lost one dog to blasto (bacterial infection of the lungs) who was only a year and a half, I thought about not having another dog. I didn’t know if I could bear to lose another. But my partner pointed out that having dogs was in our mission statement (it really is: “We recognize that dogs made us a family. We will always have dogs.”).
      Loving a dog will break your heart, but it breaks your heart open so you can love again and more deeply. To me, this is Reason #12. We can only write what we’ve experienced (at least to some degree); if we want to write powerfully about the human condition, which love and grief are major parts of, we have to experience both…
      It may sound counter-intuitive, but after some time passes, the best “cure” for grief is to set yourself up to grieve again.


  6. Fay April 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Cats don’t do number 2 and 3 but they teach us how to be independent and our own person and be unpredictable. They teach us you can be nasty and nice at almost the same time.
    From your friend the cat lover.


    • rosannebane April 23, 2014 at 8:10 am #

      Absolutely true Fay! Cats teach us things dogs can’t.


  7. Joel D Canfield April 22, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Dogs are good people. I didn’t realize how good they are for writers before now.

    Though we’ve chosen, for now, not to have pets, I miss my dog Bogart. He and his sister Amber were 1/4 wolf and ran around the woods surrounding our house on Copperhead Hill in east Texas.


    • rosannebane April 23, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Hi Joel, I can see there are times to not have a dog. It sounds like Bogart and Amber had a fabulous life with you and you have the memories of those experiences to enrich your writing.


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