FOCUS: Work Like a Dog

Disciplines: Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Systems Thinking, Team Learning

Want to have more fun at work? Enjoy your job more? Feel less stressed? Then work like a dog!
— Matt Weinstein & Luke Barber

Thanks to reader Fred Prochaska for sending this wonderful suggestion for improving work habits. It is an excerpt from the book Work Like Your Dog by Weinstein and Barber. 

“The idea of associating dogs with work has a long history. How many times have you heard people complain that they’ve been “working like a dog”? The idea is that if we want to be successful, then we must be prepared to work long hours at hard labor. Working like a dog will most likely be a tiresome, serious, and joyless affair, without a hint of laughter, fun, or play.

However, before you ever use the phrase, “work like a dog” again, take a moment to think about how your own dog actually spends her days. As a model of the working dog, I propose that we take a look at my own dog, Blue. As soon as Blue notices that I’m getting dressed for a run, she gets so excited that she literally leaps in the air, with all four feet leaving the ground. A huge smile lights up her face as she springs toward the door. How many people do you know who show that kind of enthusiasm for going to work in the morning?

Blue finds many opportunities during our run to integrate play into her work. As we do our morning loop around the lake by our house, she nearly always finds time to fit in a swim or two.  Every squirrel spotting calls for a playful chase. Her workday is a fine example of curiosity in action. She takes a joyful break to wallow in any mud she can find. She also takes time from her work to stop and say hello to virtually every child we pass.

Of course, not every part of Blue’s workday is all that perfect or positive. Like most golden retrievers, she rarely passes up an opportunity to roll around in cow poop, dead fish, or any other disgusting matter she can find. (Many of us can relate to this kind of experience in our own workday. You probably have had a similar feeling of being covered in cow poop countless times as you walked away from a particularly difficult meeting. However, she doesn't let these little setbacks and digressions ruin her day. She puts the negative stuff behind her and gets on with her work.)

Nearly all working dogs--whether it’s Blue or a rescue dog working the ski slopes-are great models for us to emulate in our own work lives. They approach their work not only with dedication, loyalty, discipline, sensitivity, and love, but also with joy, enthusiasm, and happiness. If you want to increase your abilities in this area of study, spend a few hours this week in the company of a dog. The first thing you will notice is that the dog is constantly living in the present moment. Everything is of interest to her: the sights, the smells, the slightest movement in the world around her. Nothing seems boring; every interaction with another being brings its own excitement.  So many things bring her pleasure. Notice how good you feel around her, how you are filled with joy, tenderness, concentrated focus, and excitement.  Notice how she makes you laugh, over and over again.

That is exactly how other people can feel in your presence, as well, once you learn to go on out there and work like a dog.”


  1. In what ways do you work like a dog?

  2. What specific dog-inspired attitude or behavior could you adopt today to have more fun, feel less stress, and enjoy yourself more at work?


Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore the possibility of working more like a dog.  Tuesday, October 11, at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific)  1-218-862-1300 PIN 276583.  No need to register…just call at that time!

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone. Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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