Over the weekend I puppy-sat Max, my brother’s beautiful 18-month-old labradoodle. He had asked before and I’d declined for two main reasons – I know nothing about dogs and I’m allergic to a long list of animals.

This time when he asked, I agreed before I realised what I was saying!

Lucky for me, Max doesn’t really shed his fur, so my sneezing and allergic reactions were almost non-existent!

I had about 36 hours on my own with Max and it was fantastic. It also made me think about what we can learn from our pets and how we can apply this to the workplace.

Here’s what I learned by puppy-sitting…


Give your people the training they need and at the time they need it

Max’s training, by an expert puppy-trainer, started the day he arrived at my brother’s home. Engaging an expert was definitely not the cheapest option, but the results were impactful and long-lasting. Consequently, he is now a beautifully behaved dog with a loving nature, who doesn’t eat shoes, climb on the couch or sneak upstairs. At least, he didn’t do any of these things while I was there!


Demonstrate leadership

When I was given instructions on how to look after him, I was reminded that as the adult, I’m in charge and I get to make the decisions around how Max and I would spend our time together.


Build in some routine

Regular meals at consistent times, walks and bed-time are structured into Max’s (and therefore my) day.


Take regular breaks

After each walk Max would have a nap on his favourite cushion. Actually Max loves napping!


Positive reinforcement

Reward good behaviour and don’t reinforce or reward bad behaviour. Poor behaviour should be acknowledged and have appropriate consequences.


Communicate clearly

Max knows and obeys the basic commands for activities such as sit and eat. When he hears these commands, he knows exactly what to do.


Provide your people with the tools they need to excel

As I stayed at my brother’s home he supplied me with delicious food and wine, and a comfy bed to sleep in. He also made sure I had the necessary things I needed for Max – his leash, poop bags, food, treats, and any emergency numbers I might need.


Expect the unexpected

On our first walk I was not expecting Max to almost yank my arm out of its socket when he saw something worth chasing! I knew to expect that on our second walk!


Demonstrate love

Max loves cuddles, walks, treats and belly rubs. While some of these activities are probably not appropriate in the workplace, everyone thrives when shown love and kindness.


Have you ever puppy-sat? What did you learn?


Mel Kettle is all about connection, communication and collaboration. She works with CEOs, leaders and teams to help them better communicate and collaborate (online AND offline) to achieve better relationships, revenue and results. Mel is a facilitator, trainer, speaker, author and mentor who provides practical advice that achieves results while having some fun!

You can download her latest whitepaper, The Social CEO – from invisible to influencer or order a signed copy of her book, The Social Association. To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or call her on 0404 600 889.

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