5 Business Skills I Learned from My Dog

Originally authored by Experts Exchange member Michael Munger

1. Be Giving of Your Best Stuff

BizSkillsDog-02Probably the most important habit to form in this brave new economy is to be giving of your very best all the time. When my dogs want to play, they don’t dig through their toy basket and get the crappiest toy they have to bring to me. They dig through it to find their best toy. The toy they love the most. Then they bring that toy to me to play with. They recognize that it is no use having toys if you’re only going to save the best ones for a rainy day.

Be like my dog. Always give your best stuff to your customers, and give like you’ve never given before.

For example, I have a coaching client who has an Internet business. He and I were discussing how he could attract more clients. His first offer was to give away a free booklet to them, which is something that he himself doesn’t attach much value to. I cautioned him: “If you’re attempting to build a relationship with a new customer over the Internet, why would you pick your throw away products as your first impression?” He was a little taken aback, but I continued: “Give them one or two of your best ideas or techniques that they can take home and use themselves. We want your prospective customers to think, “Wow, if this is the stuff he gives away for free…imagine how good the for pay stuff will be!”

He begrudgingly conceded my point, and found out just a few weeks later… I was right. Well, it wasn’t me who was right, it was my dog.

2. How Not to Give Up

A dog never stops selling. “You want to walk me,” his eyes say. “Feed me again.” “Let’s play more fetch!”

Adopt the positive attitude that everyone wants to do business with you again and again, and you’ll magically see that not only do you no longer have to ask for the sale, but people start doing more and more business with you! It’s all about confidence and loving yourself. As business owners, we often get slammed with affronts: a customer complains, someone refuses to pay a bill, you get a citation from the county that your grass is too tall. Each of these can take its emotional toll on you, and if you let it, it will eventually make you tired.

Remember, be like my dog: always assume that everyone loves you, and never stop wagging your tail.

3. Resilience

Sometimes, my dog behaves badly. He relieves himself in the wrong place, or he tears something up that he shouldn’t have. So, he gets sent to his basket as punishment.

We have a cage for the dogs, which we call their “casita”, which is Spanish for “little house”. It is full of blankets and pillows, and as far as cages go, it could very well be considered the Holiday Inn. They have been trained that this is their “safe” place. So it’s the first place they run when they are scared, but it’s also the place where they are sent when they are punished. Like sending a child to his room.

Yet it never fails. When punished, they tuck their tail between their legs, and run to the casita. As soon as they sit down, they stare back out the door as if to say: “I know – and you know – that you still love me.”

So, next time you have a client “tear you a new one” or you have a colleague insult you, or life just doesn’t go your way in your business, do not fret. Just sit down, smile, and know that you’re still needed.

4. Ambition

We have four dogs. Rafael is the smallest. He has no idea how small he really is. He doesn’t let his size dictate anything about his life.

At night, my wife and I get into bed, and the dogs join us (yes it’s crowded). Every night before we sleep, we tell the dogs “foot of the bed.” They will instantly get up, and wander to the foot of the bed, then do their little walking circle, and lay down for the night. By morning, however, three of the dogs are still at the foot of the bed. Rafael, however, has moved to the dead center of the bed. Not only has he moved to the center, but he (an 8 pound poodle) has slowly and methodically edged both my wife and I to either side of the bed until he occupies the middle 80% of the bed.

Don’t ever let the size of your company dictate the size of your business. Stop calling yourself a “small business owner”. Your business, despite its apparent “size” should be anything but small.

5. Lofty Goals

White golden retriever puppyWhen I was a kid, my mother got a new puppy who we named Pierre. As was customary in our family, the new puppy spent the evenings in a cardboard box with a sock that contained a ticking clock to simulate the mother’s heartbeat. The box was filled with warm blankets and pillows and toys. The box stayed within arm’s reach of the bed at night so if there was a problem (i.e., he was sick or otherwise) we could instantly take care of him.

But Pierre saw there was a problem with this arrangement: the lack of freedom.

He tried to jump out for several hours, but never made it. The next morning, we found out what true determination really was…

Pierre realized he could not jump out, so he slowly stripped away the corrugated cardboard from the side of the box. Piece by piece, all night until there was a hole. It was the puppy version of the Shawshank Redemption.

So, when you are staring down a seemingly insurmountable problem in your business just remember: when you strip your problems down piece by piece, a solution (or hole) will always present itself.


Experts Exchange is the network for technology professionals.

With unparalleled access to technology experts, verified real-world solutions, and diverse educational content, we enable technology professionals to solve difficult problems, make better decisions, and build expertise on their own terms. Experts Exchange powers the growth and success of technology professionals worldwide. Learn, grow and succeed with Experts Exchange.

About the Author

Michael Munger (username: DrDamnit) has been a member of the Experts Exchange community since 2003. As of April 2015, Michael has achieved Genius status with almost 2 million points, and 13 Experts Exchange certifications. He also serves as a volunteer Topic Advisor and Page Editor in our global community.

About Experts Exchange

With an extensive Q&A forum, instant 1-1 consulting, a freelancing marketplace, and career opportunities, Experts Exchange powers the growth and success of technology users around the world.