Shopping Tips To Get The Clothes You Need and Will Wear
She Was Crazy! She Fit Right In!

3 Ways Dogs Can Teach Us to Overcome Challenges


At 3:12 PM on a smothering July day, there I stood looking at the Mt. Everest of sand and gravel wishing with every bone in my body the clock read 4PM. For the next 48 minutes, my fellow teammates and I would be asked to do the impossible.

I was about 15 years old and standing with a handful of boys and girls around the same age as we were about to endure this sneaker-burning, exhausting and ridiculous challenge.

We were the elite group of the junior tennis camp that summer so more was expected from us. Apparently, "more" meant, sprinting up this huge mass of sand that practically swallowed our ankles whole on the first stride until the clock hit the glorious stroke of 4PM.

As a young teenager, I knew very little about managing a challenge like this so I ran and ran until my legs literally gave out well before the golden hour of 4PM.

Sitting here at 31 years old, reflecting on those awful summer runs in the sand mountains, I realize now, tackling a tough task is all about strategy and mindset.

If you let the sand mountain gobble up your ankle then it will take your calf and whole leg too.

As always, I turned to my furry muses to observe how they deal with challenge.

1. Mark Your Territory

I have mentioned before how my dogs, Bella, DiDi and Toby love to guard our yard. However, they don’t run around like maniacs defending every corner all at once.

They have a very systematic way of patrolling. One of the dogs will start in a small part of the yard, inspect, sniff and mark it with his or her scent. Then proceed to the next area.

When faced with a challenge, breaking it down into pieces doesn’t make it seem so daunting.

If I had to run that sand mountain again for 48 minutes, I would only allow myself to think about the challenge a few minutes at a time. After each time up and back I would congratulate myself instead of grumbling with dread.

2. Save Some for Later

Each day my dogs save a few morsels of food in their dishes after a meal. They do this on purpose in the event that my family or I never make it home to feed them. It is a survival tactic and an insurance policy that their tummies won’t growl.

Once I get home and settle (i.e. put on some pajamas, get into bed or plop down on the couch with out a laptop or smart phone screen in front of my eyes) they all rush to their bowls and finish the leftovers. The next day they repeat the same behavior.

As you deal with a challenge, whether it is in business or your personal life, make sure you have enough energy, money and/or support on deck for later.

You never know how events can unfold and the last thing you want is to be stuck without resources of your own.

3. Chew Time

Have you ever watched a dog chew a bone? In my experience, they chew very hard for a period of time and then they toss the bone aside to take a nap. 

Pick a pace at which you would like to take care of this challenge.

Maybe you would rather spend 20 hours straight finishing it and take the next day off? Or perhaps, you find it is better to work on it bit by bit?

Whatever you decide, remember that you have to start “chewing” or else you will just be carrying around a burden and a large rawhide bone.

By Margot Ahlquist,creator of Paws to Talk, professional life coach and blogger. Join the pack of hundreds living their happiest lives at







Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)