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What I Learned About Being an Employer From Walking My Dog

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I have a 52-pound poodle that requires a ton of exercise to keep her happy and from destroying my backyard. Walking is not enough for this eight-month-old puppy, so we have to run. But, I can’t run fast enough (or long enough) to give her the exercise she needs, so I ride my bike while she runs alongside me. Here are some lessons (some painful) I have learned about being an employer while spending time exercising my dog.

  1. Let her have some slack in the leash. When we first started exercising together, my dog on a short leash and me on my bike, it was a constant struggle between master and pet (you figure out who is who) as to the right speed to go, where to go, where to ride to give the dog enough room, etc. This quickly became a problem, so I bought a retractable leash to give us both room to maneuver, more easily adjust speed, etc.  This lesson is important as an employer because I need to remember that my employees can’t be held on a tight leash under tight controls. Employees need to feel the freedom to move around, adjust their speed as needed, etc.
  2. Don’t brake too hard or too fast. Twice I have gone flying over my handlebars while running my dog. Once, because I was going too fast, not paying attention, when my dog put on the “poo brakes.” As I mentioned, she is a super-strong, 52-pound poodle. The other time was my fault. We were approaching an intersection, and I got a little nervous and slammed my bike brakes, which sent me catapulting over the top of my bike. Being an employer, we can sometimes be our own worst enemy, stopping or changing things too quickly.  Sometimes it’s our employees’ fault, sometimes it’s our fault, but it can be avoided. Paying attention, looking ahead, adjusting quickly without heavy braking, etc., are all important things to remember as an employer.
  3. Trust the dog. One of my favorite things to do is run in the mountains with my dog. Not only is this a great exercise for both of us, but my dog can run off-leash. Sure, sometimes she gets distracted by smells, other runners, etc., but she always sticks with me, even if I get a little ahead (or behind) her.  I trust she will stay close. Nothing is more important in an employer/employee relationship than trust. If you can’t trust your employees, get rid of them. Trust your employees to do what you ask, and then leave them to do it. They might get distracted (“SQUIRREL!”), but if the relationship is one of trust, allow them the liberty to get their job done.

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