Top 4 Business Lessons from a Labrador

Business coach for health

Penny sleeping off her chocolate hangover

I’m a dog person.  I’ve always had a dog, and I’m sure that I’ll always have a dog because they’re just so much fun.  We are the proud guardians of a six year old, 65 pound yellow Labrador Retriever named Penny.  Penny is a funny dog who makes us laugh and loves her family.   She has unfortunately become quite a thief over the past year, and on December 23rd she decided to scavenge a 16 ounce bag of raw cacao powder.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs.  Raw 100% pure ground cacao beans is especially toxic and warranted a trip to the emergency vet hospital on December 24th.  Penny had a 104.5 fever (normal is 101 for dogs) and a heart rate of 280, normal being 110-140, as her body worked to process the poison to her system.

Fortunately, Penny is ok and is home resting.  As I sat with her over the past two days I couldn’t help but think how much we can learn about business from a dog like Penny.  Dogs have keen senses of smell and hearing, but I think they also could have a keen business sense as well.

1. Be a friend: Penny is excited to see everyone she meets.  The strongest relationships in life as well as business are created with an open heart.  Treat each client like a valued friend, even if you’ve just met them.  Be happy to see everyone you meet and they will naturally feel relaxed and welcomed.

2. Don’t be aggressive: When Penny was younger, she had a hard time controlling herself around guests.  There would be entirely too much jumping around, licking, and overall excitement.  Nobody likes the hard sell and wants to be best friends right off the bat.   Playing hard to get is an important part of marketing and doggie manners.

3. Make time of self-care: Penny gives us strong reminders when it’s time for her breakfast or dinner or when she wants to go for a walk.   It’s important to take frequent breaks from work and life.  Go for a walk every day for exercise and fresh air, and try to take someone with you.  Don’t skip meals and don’t isolate yourself.  It’s healthy and invigorating to be with others and to network when the opportunity presents itself.  Go after what you want and don’t stop until you get it.

4. Value loyalty: Penny is as loyal a dog as I’ve ever known.  She sleeps between our bedroom and the kids so she can keep watch over everyone at the same time.  When the kids have friends sleep over, Penny is in the middle of everything so she can keep an eye on the new person.  Treat those who feed and support you with love, service and kindness.

If you’re a dog lover, what business sense does your dog have? I’d love to know!


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  1. Thanks for the comment Deb! Penny LOVES fruits and veggies also and always lays at my feet when I’m cutting up produce at the sink. Strawberries are her favorite!

  2. So glad to hear that Penny is alright and on the mend. I too am a dog person with one black lab named Abbey and one “mix” named Gracie. They are “vegetarian” dogs as they BEG for any veggie I am cutting. In the summer when the garden is full and producing lots, they take their own walk through to nibble on sugar snap peas, tomatoes, cucumbers and whatever else is ripe and ready. I wish I could teach them to put the veggies in a basket to bring in and share!

  3. Thanks for the comment Renee and congrats on your new baby! Send me photos, I’d love to see the pup. Remember to keep the chocolate locked up. 🙂

  4. Great post Cheryl! I am dog lover and will have my fur-baby in the near future! #3 really hit home for me and it is on of my goals for 2011! Thanks for the posting!

  5. Hi Cheryl,
    First,I want to thank you for all the wonderful information you offer in your news letter. I’ve found it extremely valuable.

    I’m a cat person (though I love dogs too). Here is what I have learned from my cats:

    Its important to “read” your cat (or client) and understand their individual needs. No two cats are alike, and no two clients are alike. Some love to be showered with attention . Others need their space. Some will tell you what they want or need. Others don’t share as easily. You have to be able to sense it. Some show obvious signs when they are not doing well. Others naturally hide it. Its important to use your intuitive skills to understand what is really going on with your cat or client. Things are not always as they appear.

    The bottom line: Understand each individual client and their specific needs. Just understanding that they are unique and must be treated as such, can set you aside from others in your field. Be sensitive, read between the lines and trust your intuition.

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