Do you work like a dog?

When my husband travels on business, I find myself working all the time. I’ll wake up early with a mental list of 10 or 15 things I need to accomplish that day. Sometimes, I’ll eat all three meals at my desk, and literally work from morning until night.

samI caught myself telling a friend that I work like a dog. Where did we ever get that stupid expression? Most dogs are pets. Their entire function is to be a companion, always on the ready, to protect and serve. (Or, unless you have Lassie, to be served.) I do know there are “working dogs” who act as eyes for blind people or ears for the hearing impaired. Some dogs pull wheelchairs, protect during seizures, and even sniff out drugs and explosives. Regardless of their job function, perhaps we can learn something about working from dogs.


Dogs are disciplined. Seeing eye dogs don’t get distracted by people who try to pet them. They have a job to do, and they are on the alert. Are you disciplined about the way you approach work? Do you have a successful pattern that helps you stay on top of your work load? For me, it’s about setting aside certain times for certain tasks. My day starts with two hours of writing and one hour of calling. Then, I check emails and allow the distractions in. Have you developed a schedule that helps you be productive at work?


Dogs are loyal. Be loyal to your boss and to those who work with you. When things go wrong, stand up for the people involved, and work on a solution. No one likes a blamer. It’s a lot easier to point fingers than to stay calm and work out a solution to today’s crisis.

Dogs are perceptive. They say Sigmund Freud’s faithful Chinese Chow, Jofi, used to sit in on analytical sessions, putting nervous patients at ease and sometimes alerting Freud to a subtle point he may have missed. Are you perceptive to the subtleties of emails and announcements at work? Do you “get it” when a client is miffed and needs some TLC? Do you ever ask your supervisor if there is something about to happen because you can sniff it out? Try being more perceptive, so that you can plan and act. Don’t be the person who “never saw it coming.”


For dogs, every day is new, every task is exciting, and everything is fun. No matter how many times my dog and I go to the bank, she is excited to go. Her only job is to ride shotgun and sniff out the window, but she is thrilled to ride along every time. Sometimes humans have to nearly die to express the same joy about simple things. The lesson is to go to work expecting something interesting. See your work as constantly evolving—because it is. Enjoy the thrill of something new. Have a little fun.

Dogs don’t separate work and fun. They not only approach each day with excitement, sensitivity and love, they see their work as fun. Everything is fun for a dog. You don’t have a work day and then down time. You just have a DAY. Enjoy the little things along the way.

PS: If you are treated like a dog at work, that’s entirely different. Call me so we can plot your escape!

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