Christine Schoenwald•January 17, 2020•4 min read
When was the last time you felt free enough to lick your butt? Never? As a human, you’ve missed out on a lot of things that we dogs do for self-care. Sure, there are certainly some crossover self-care practices between dogs and humans. We both instinctively know to drink lots of water, get plenty of exercise, and to experience nature as often as we can, but there are some dog self-care methods that you humans don’t seem to grasp, so I’m (Shadow, the chocolate lab) here to share with you my top ways to practice self-care like a dog. Woof, you’re welcome!
A great day can be measured by the number of naps you take. While it may seem as if we have napping down, like anything, there’s always room for improvement, so I try to get in a nap whenever possible — even if I’m standing up or completely underfoot. Napping is something that you do for you, and you can do it almost anywhere. I suggest you try it.
While I’d flash my puppy dog eyes to guilt my human into taking me for a walkie, you can try for a dinner and a movie. Sometimes the best way to pamper yourself is some fresh air and some good eats. Don’t hesitate to let yourself off the leash and have a good time. But don’t stay out too long — you have plenty more naps you need to accomplish.
We may bark at an intruder or a scary noise, but sometimes we just bark as a way to relieve tension. There’s something very therapeutic about opening up and barking your head off. Humans can take a page out of this book. If you live within hearing distance of other people, consider screaming into a pillow. Tell me you don’t feel better!
Yes, this self-care practice sometimes gets me in trouble, but you’re in charge, and as you’ve mentioned many times, “you make the rules.” Sleeping somewhere you’re not allowed feels so good that it’s worth it. Some recommended off-limit areas include the arm-chair, the cat’s bed, on the dining-room table, or a guitar-case. Be creative.
Throwing a ball into the air and not caring where it lands is a very Zen thing to do. If balls aren’t your thing (sad human!), maybe try texting (even double-texting!) with abandon. Throw the figurative ball into everyone else’s court and quit worrying about the results. That’s how you really ball.
Isn’t it amazing that calories don’t count on self-care days? Take advantage of it with some truly amazing meals, snacks, and treats. Don’t stop until you’re on your back and belly up.
There’s a reason that one of the yoga moves is called “Downward Dog.” I suspect that either a dog invented yoga or the person who came up with the idea did so after observing the way we tend to stretch by using our front legs only. Never underestimate the power of a good stretch.
Look, we know you humans like to pass off your farts on us; it feels really good to do a big stinky one and leave the room lightning-bolt fast. Why not make sure you always get a pass when passing gas. Don’t worry if the blame falls on us, we’re not nearly as self-conscious about our bodily functions. That’s called growth, sweetie!
How many times have you caught us staring off into space or focused on dust particles? While you may assume that this is just some random thing, we’re actually meditating. Even if our mantra is “When’s dinner?” meditation not only helps us to relax but improves our health. Namaste, doggies. You, too, can achieve this level of non-thinking. It feels really good to turn your brain off sometimes!
One of my favorite self-care activities is humping a piece of furniture, another dog, or a stranger. Humping makes me happy and is a major mood-booster, even if I get yelled at for doing it. You probably should avoid strangers, but if there’s someone in your life who’s willing, why not relieve some stress?
Sniffing is another simple pleasure. Whether it’s smelling the message left on a tree by another dog, pointing your nose in the grass on a dewy morning, or risking frostbite when putting your honker in snow, a new smell or an old scent works just as effectively as aromatherapy does for humans. So why not stop and smell the roses? Or, at the very least, stop and smell the rosé.
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as rolling in a decaying squirrel (or any animal) corpse, garbage, or poop and covering your body in it. Getting completely disgusting is the best mood-booster that I know of, which must be why I always forget that it usually ends with a bath or two or three. Still worth it. You don’t have to roll over a dead animal to understand that rolling with it can be a state of mind. Take everything as it comes and you’ll feel the stress melt away.
So, there you have it, a dog’s guide to self-care. I hope… wait. Is that a squirrel? Gotta go!!