Dogs are often said to be our best friends and trusted companions but what lessons can we learn from them and how do they contribute to our personal improvement and development?

Your Pet Your Pill

Your Pet Your Pill

1. Self-esteem

Research1 proves that dog ownership improves self-esteem. People with greater self-esteem are usually more successful in both their professional and private lives.

2. Trust

Dogs are natural leaders and can serve as outstanding examples on how to trust in ourselves. Moreover, they have more trust in us than we actually have in ourselves. Trusting ourselves makes us better, stronger people and leaders2.

3. Being more extrovert

It is well-established in the business world that extroverts have it easier in their work and become more successful than introverts. Researchers3 found that dog people were 15% more extroverted than cat people. The study also showed that dog people were outgoing, energetic, and had a positive attitude.

4. Enthusiasm

Often, we are excited at the start of something new, but this excitement quickly fades into the same boring routine, day in, day out. We can learn enthusiasm from dogs as they show us what real enthusiasm is and how to preserve it2. Dogs’ pure joy in doing things is unprecedented and they should be our role models to bring back and infuse joy into everything we do.

5. Dealing with rejection

One key to success is how we deal with social and other kind of rejection. A study4 found that momentary feelings of social rejection can be soothed, and people’s wellbeing improved, by just thinking about a dog or even just its name, or by having a dog nearby.

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6. Transparency

The best way to fully understand the meaning of transparency is to observe a dog as an ideal role model2. Dogs have no pretenses, vanity, ulterior motives, or defensiveness and don’t fear being judged as they simply show their feelings and moods in an open, transparent way.

7. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a key element of success. A survey3 concluded that dog people were 11% more conscientious than cat people. Dog people tend to be “planners” and are more self-disciplined with a keen sense of duty.

8. Agreeableness

As per a survey3, dog people are 13% more likely to be agreeable (trusting, kind, affectionate, sociable, and altruistic) than cat people or people without pets. These personality traits are particularly useful in improving personal and professional success.

9. Dominance

A certain level of dominance is necessary for C-suite executives who get people to carry out their decisions5. Research6 shows that elevated dominance scores predict a preference for dogs. This might be one reason why 83% of CEOs and C-suite executives have dogs5.

10. Leadership

People living with dogs can easily understand the importance of bio-empathic leadership7 which is the ability to look at things from nature’s point of view. Instead of just always taking, these leaders give back and help nurture their organizations, as dogs do with their families or dog packs.


Dogs can serve as fabulous role models, especially for us women, to improve our personality and character traits for greater success in our personal and professional lives.

Your Pet, Your Pill: 101 Inspirational Stories About How Pets Lead You to A Happy, Healthy and Successful Life by Dr Margit Gabriele Muller, out now, available on Amazon.


1. McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239–1252.

2. Pietersen, W. Six Things My Dog Taught Me about Leadership. Columbia Business School. Ideas and insights. May 11, 2016.

3.Gosling, S.D., Sandy, C.J., Potter, J. Personalities of Self-Identified “Dog People” and “Cat People”. Anthrozoos A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals 23(3):213-222 · September 2010

4. Brown, C.M., Hengy, S.M., McConnell, A.R. Thinking about Cats or Dogs Provides Relief from Social Rejection. Anthrozoös. A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals. Volume 29, 2016 - Issue 1. Pages 47-58 | Published online: 08 Mar 2016.

5. Banfield Pet Hospital: New Survey Reveals Executive Success May Be Influenced By a Surprising Source: The Family Pet. November 14, 2018.

7. Kidd, A. H. and Kidd, R. M. 1980. Personality characteristics and preferences in pet ownership. Psychological Reports 46: 939–949

8. Johansen, B. Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World. 2nd ed. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 2012. p. 95

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