In the past, dogs were generally used for utilitarian purposes and were raised for different tasks and kinds of work. This is the case of shepherd dogs, guard dogs and hunting dogs, who have gained their very special place in the hearts of humans. But today most dogs only serve as pets. So they have pet "jobs". However, dogs cannot be happy just to play this part. They feel like doing more, like being more useful for the ones they love so much. They are hard-workers, as they adore being useful.
Dogs communicate with us through their look, through body language and through their specific sounds. They have a very peculiar behavior and an excellent sense of smell. It is through this sense, and through other senses in general, that dogs can learn new things from us. We humans are, on the other hand, complex and introspective beings. Thus, we can grasp certain concepts, we can read between the lines, understand certain hints. Nonetheless, we can also be quite revengeful, jealous and sometimes even irrational. Dogs cannot bear grudge, they are capable to forgive and forget at all times, anywhere and mostly anything. This is a great quality that we so often lack. But no matter how much we love our pet dog and how much we feel we can communicate with it and relate to it and it to us, let's not forget we are different species, after all. If we fail to understand this basic fact, this may prove harmful both for us and for our poor dog pets.
For instance, we could say that in the dogs' world there isn't any such thing as democracy. No way Jose. Each dog breed is unique and should be treated as such. Thus, if we train a Golden Retriever as if it were a Jack Russell Terrier, in the end we'll get one piece of very confused and troubled Golden Retriever. Unfortunately, many dog owners ignore their dogs' needs. The most frequent mistake is to try to turn one's dog into a humanized version of it. It's not like in the movies, dogs can't really talk and they don't think and act as us humans do. This wrong attitude from the part of the owners can result in the dog's misunderstanding of its real place within the family, leading it to believe that there is equality among its rights and those of all the other family members. Because of this misunderstanding, such a spoiled dog can be quite undisciplined. After all, it's not even fair to treat a dog as if it were a human being. We humans would definitely hate to be treated as if we were something else than what we actually are.
Therefore, it's very useful for us to appeal to dog empathy as much and as often as possible. It's much easier for us to step into our dog's "shoes" (or paws?) than for them to empathize with us. Dogs are capable of enjoying every moment of their lives. They process the information they receive and act accordingly. They cannot daydream of exotic places for their vacation. After all, they are on permanent vacation. The things that are most frequently on a dog's mind include food, the smell of food (like for instance the smell of barbecue coming from your neighbor's house), another dog's barking.
One thing for us to do would be to start and analyze more carefully what is going on around us, by using our five senses. Thus, we should listen more careful, become more aware of what is happening, and improve our sense of smell and touch. The things we should look for throughout this experiment should include food smells, tactile exploration of objects and taking life as it is at all times.
This process should of course start at an early stage of the dog's development. Thus, one good thing to do is to take your dog as many places as possible when it is merely a puppy. By doing this, the dog becomes more confident, sociable and comfortable with different environment and around different people. Another thing dogs can do is learn new tricks, as they generally love to show off and often put up little performance acts just for the sake of the audience.