3 Things We Can Learn About Friendship From Dogs


Do you know why dogs have so many friends? It’s because they wag their tails rather than their tongues.

1. I was walking through a park in Calgary, Alberta, pondering ways to enhance business and personal relationships in our stress-filled society. The lesson bounded across the park and almost knocked me over.

A young woman was walking her dog. More correctly, the dog was walking the woman. It was a huge, black dog with short hair, big floppy ears, a long stocky tail, and feet the size of saucers. It looked like a Labrador crossed with a St. Bernard.

It darted this way and that, from one tree to the next, nose to the ground, as if searching for a rabbit.

Suddenly, it stopped, looked around, and noticed something more interesting in the park – people.

The dog ran across the park to a sullen-looking elderly man, walking as if he was in pain. The dog swung around and strutted alongside this gentleman, head held high as if on parade, tail wagging from side to side. The man reached down and patted the dog’s head. I could see that the man was talking to the dog. His scowl turned into a big smile.

2. The dog spotted a group of children, and off he went. He circled around them and then stopped. A small girl walked up to him, arms outstretched, and he planted a big sloppy lick on her cheek. The girl giggled and hugged him. The other children gathered around and patted him as his stiff tail swung from side to side, occasionally knocking one of the children over. He’d turn and lick the child as if to say “Whoops. Sorry.” The children laughed and giggled.

He noticed me and bounded across the park, circled around me several times and then stuck his big nose into my hand. I laughed as I scratched him behind the ears. The back end of his body seemed to be controlled by the wagging tail.

Off he went in a flash to a man and woman, strolling hand in hand. He walked in between them and looked up at their faces, tail wagging furiously. I could hear them talking and laughing.

3. The friendly canine noticed two well-dressed men on the sidewalk, each carrying a briefcase. By their faces, they appeared to be in a serious discussion, or possibly an argument. Their facial expressions were from concern to ridicule to contempt. The dog roared off toward them and stopped about a meter away. He crouched, cocked his head to the side inquisitively, perma-wag still happening. The men noticed him and both started to laugh as they coaxed the dog closer to pat him. As the dog bounded off, the two men strode along the sidewalk, with a more pleasant look on their faces.

Wherever the dog went, he had friends. All he did was wag his tail. He did not make a sound. He exuded energy, excitement, and love in every move. His tail wagging was an unconditional gift to everyone he met.
Most of us don’t have a tail to wag, yet we can implement the same dog-gone leadership strategies.

  • Be energetic, strong, and proud. Keep your head held high, move quickly and “on purpose” rather than because you “have to”.

  • Be interested and supportive of others’ needs, without getting caught-up in their “stuff”.

  • Be friendly and listen, without interrupting, or judging.

  • Leave when they still want more of you. You’ll be welcome next time.

Be a dog-gone good friend and leader. I challenge you to wag your tail more than your tongue.

Be aware of your impulse to interrupt, prove, probe, and blame. Hijack the impulse, close your mouth and listen, wag your tail, and leave on good terms. It is much safer and less stressful.

Use these dog-gone leadership strategies, and I guarantee you will be happier and healthier. You’ll have energy to play in the park, relaxing time to lay in the sun, and you’ll have friends wherever you go.