We have learned a lot over the years about how to be better dads. It occurred to us that our relationship with the family pets -- our dogs -- have taught us some of those things.
• Live in the moment. Be there for your kids, focus on them, share your time. Try not to be distracted, occupied or diverted. They deserve your attention.
• Love unconditionally. Let your kids know you love them, consistently, fully, without reservation. They may act unlovable at times, but you should always love them and tell them so.
• Joie de vivre. There is no better term than this French phrase for honoring, engaging in and enjoying life. Our dogs do it; you should, too.
• Don't hold grudges. If someone insults, hurts, dishonors, dismisses or otherwise harms you, forgive them. This is a key to happiness. Grudges fester. Take a lesson from dogs. Forgive.
• Savor new experiences. Open your mind and heart to new opportunities you've never tried, especially with your child. Connect. Create memories.
• Go along. Maybe it wasn't your idea, perhaps it's not your favorite activity, but go along. Be a willing participant. When your child asks you to do something with him or her, say yes.
• Be comfortable with yourself. Forgive the mistakes you've made, losses you've experienced, times you've failed. Successes in life far outweigh failures.
• Do your best. Whether it's your work, your pastime, an activity with your child or by yourself, strive for quality.
• Be compassionate. Be sensitive to the struggle of others.
• Communicate your needs. Let others know what you need -- some space, TLC or togetherness.
• Don't dwell on the past. Grieve, reflect, learn, apologize, and move on.
• Welcome new friends. Be open to new relationships. New people bring experiences and perspectives and open doors to you.
• Trust your instincts. Be sensitive to the situations around you and rely on your sense of others. There is often a reason you feel the way you do.
• Play well with others. Listen, compliment, engage. You can learn a lot this way.
• Stay away from those who might bite. We all know people who increase life's difficulty. Sometimes you just need to move on. You deserve a bite-free environment.
• Be gentle with children. Children are precious. Treat them with care.
• Take a nap. Ever notice how often your pet takes a nap? There's a reason. It's great. You feel refreshed, gain a new perspective, and it's just so darn comfortable.
• Wag your tail daily. Be happy and grateful for the many blessings and opportunities you've been given. Enjoy them.
• Reduce the ego. Stop focusing on yourself and reach out to others. It's amazing how much you can learn and grow.
• Recognize who's boss. You are not always the boss. Relationships are more complex than that. Make sure you share the CEO role with your partner and even, sometimes, with your child.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of the book "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc.com. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.