The Puppiness Project – Pride Is Not Always a Sin

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.

Honey the Golden Retriever is proud

I’m very proud that I’ve figured out how to get my people to take me out for ice cream. All it took was jumping into this crazy bike cart.

Do Dogs Feel Pride?

Joy? Yes.

Love? Most certainly.

Anger? Oh  yeah.

But do dogs actually feel proud of their accomplishments?

I think so. I’ve seen it. And I bet you have too.

Training the Dog To Shake Paws

Lots of people want to meet Honey when we’re out on the street. I ask her to sit for a calm greeting. At least half the time, the person puts his hand out and says, “Paw.” “Paw.”

I replied, “She doesn’t know that one.” After all, I’ve never been big on teaching tricks.

But eventually I got tired of disappointing people.

So I taught her “high five” and “paw.” We’re working on the fist bump next.

Although I’m uninterested in teaching Honey tricks (and pretty darn poor at it anyway), she likes learning them. And when I’ve finally figured out how to tell her what I’d like her to do, she gets it quickly.

She looks very proud of herself.

I bet you’ve seen it with your dog. That moment she finally understands what you’re asking her to do. And that flit of joy that crosses her face as she does it.

Honey doesn’t know it’s considered bad manners to brag. And that ladies don’t boast. She’s just pleased to have figured something out. And proud.

It Was Nothing

When I meet a goal, I have to force myself to feel proud.

I’m usually thinking about how much more I have to do. And how what I’ve already done could have been much better. Besides, pride is a sin and only obnoxious people feel good about what they’ve done.

It’s far better to be humble.

Except it isn’t.

Because I find it so hard to take pride in my accomplishments, I always feel like a failure. And it’s hard to keep going when you don’t feel like you’ve done what you were supposed to do.

I don’t think I’m the only one.

I’ve seen comments from people who feel bad they haven’t been able to make their dog less scared. I’ve talked to others who beat themselves up for not having better tech skills or getting more blog subscribers.

I’m not the only one who could use more pride and less humility.

Honey the Golden Retriever with Kong Wubba

I’m especially proud of running so fast no camera can capture me.

Dogs Celebrate the Moment

Honey feels proud when she learns a new trick because she’s not thinking of all the other tricks she could do.

She doesn’t care that it took her a whole day to learn something.

And she certainly doesn’t worry that a tail wag and a little hop to celebrate an accomplishment will make her look like a jerk to another dog. She’s proud because she’s celebrating in that moment and nowhere else.

I need to learn from Honey and I bet you do too.

As soon as I finish this post, I’m going to allow myself to feel proud that I wrote it. I’ll celebrate the fact that I can write and hope that my words will stick with someone (hopefully, myself).

I’ll try to wait at least ten whole minutes before I spot the typo I missed before I hit publish or berate myself for choosing headlines that don’t use good keywords.

I hope you’ll take some time today to show dog-like pride in your accomplishments. That you’ll give a little tail wag when your dog comes running up to you for attention. And you’ll be proud of your photos and writing and friendships.

Besides, I don’t think pride is a sin. At worst, it’s just a little mischief.


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  1. I enjoy learning new things, it makes training more interesting. Bipeds can learn a lot from dogs about appreciating the moment!

  2. Very good post. I think everyone should feel proud of what they can accomplish, no matter what it is. All the bloggers should be proud of their writing and pictures, everyday.

  3. I love my blogging community, so many times they express (far better than I) exactly how I feel. These are the types of lessons I want to learn from my dog, this is the Heart Like a Dog that I want to have. To learn to celebrate the things I accomplish and not focus on how long it took or if I did it perfectly.

    Great, thought-provoking (as always) post Pamela.

  4. You are a thoughtful person for taking the time to teach your dogs to shake hands, so as not to disappoint others. Pride is fine, as with everything it’s all about balance. We definitely should take time to celebrate our successes and accomplishments like a dog. Brooks has a cute happy dance.

  5. I really enjoy your Puppiness Project posts 😉 We all should take more time to celebrate our little accomplishments! Every time I finish a website, I worry about where my next client will come from instead of celebrating that I have currently gave a client exactly what they wanted. Dogs really know how to live, don’t they? :)

  6. Mike Webster says:

    I know I’m proud of you, and believe you can well afford to be proud of yourself. XXX

  7. When I first read your title, I thought, no, dogs don’t feel pride. But it didn’t take long for you to convince me that they do, and why that is a good thing. There is so much we can learn from our dogs about life, and that is one thing I never thought of myself. As a pretty new blogger, I related to all of those things you talked about! Especially with the dogs….since I have 4 I often don’t have time to teach them things, and I always feel bad about that. But when I have all four of them crowding at the door, thinking they might get out, and I say “Stay” and they all do….I guess I do feel a little proud about that, and I’m glad you’ve made me think about the fact that it is OK to let myself feel that way. Especially instead of feeling bad about all the commands they don’t know! Thanks!

  8. Everyone should to take pride in what they do and learn. Honey looks pleased with herself sitting in the bike basket. There is no way that BJ will get onto anything that moves except a car. Good job on your teaching and her learning.

  9. Another post that has me thinking. I think I spend too much time thinking about how something is not perfect, how it didn’t meet the goal I had in my mind or how I’m not doing what so and so is doing that I forget to appreciate what I’ve done and be proud of it. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Wonderful words today! I agree, we all need to allow ourselves to be proud when we’ve accomplished something. Imagine what a great equalizer it would be if we decided to give that validation to ourselves instead of waiting go get it from others, while just a few people are “allowed” to celebrate how wonderful they are (or think they are)!

  11. A fab post thank you!!

  12. LOL! I couldn’t help but think – dod she actually give herself a moment to feel proud of this post? I hope so. It was a good one.

    I’m beginning to discover that owning my own business has changed me in more ways than I knew. I used to think it was wrong to feel pride about my accomplishments – just like you joked about. I never wanted a lot of attention for what I accomplished. Now? I’m not afraid to tout my accomplishments, if needed. Am I cured? Nah! Just the other day I was downplaying my blog writing as nothing serious. My friends were the ones to point out how my blog writing is something I should be proud of and share. Guess I still need to learn from my dogs and Honey huh?

    BTW – When Jasper is proud of himself he prances. His feet go a little higher and he bounces along. It is so cute and one of the many things I love about him. :)

  13. One of my great joys in life is watching Felix when he’s feeling a little proud. That my shy, serious little human in a dog suit has “dogged up” enough to feel proud of himself for basic commands and tricks warms the cockles of my cold, black heart.

    I’m quite guilty of not taking time to relish successes. It’s always “on to the next. It never occurred to me that this might not be the best way to be.