Leadership: Discipline reminders from puppies

Labrador puppies eating food at home PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Labrador puppies eating food at home PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Labrador puppies eating food at home PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Labrador puppies eating food at home PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Labrador puppies eating food at home PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Labrador puppies eating food at home PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

After one month of being pet owners, our 10-month- and 3-month-old puppies, Oskee and Simba, have reminded us of the importance of discipline.

It has been 13 years since we had a puppy and 23 years since we had a baby. During these last decades, I have had the privilege and flexibility to create and follow my preferred schedule. Not anymore. With these rambunctious pups, it is vital to be disciplined as we attempt to create order in our home.

I am learning that these sections of our day are most important:

Sleep time

We all need our beauty sleep. The first night together, the furry brothers slept (or at least were quiet) from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. That is eight hours of sleep. What a great way to start a life together. Night No. 2 was a little different. Simba barked for eight hours straight. We learned that we could sleep through a barking dog; however, it was not the best quality of rest. Even Simba needed a few naps the next day.

Feeding time

When breakfast or dinner is late, it creates a cranky dog. And if the kids do not have enough food during meal time, they find creative ways to curb their appetite. Rocks, sticks, hasta plants and towels have been snacks they have chosen to munch on. I’m not sure about the nutritional value of these choices, but the pups are growing, so at least it is not stunting their growth.


Thankfully, Oskee and Simba have each other to play with when they are unkenneled. They wrestle, bite, chase and roll around with each other. If playtime is cut short or either dog feels bored, it is alarming to see how quickly their creative skills have developed. Individual play during boredom consists of tearing up a plush toy or pulling a blanket from their brother’s kennel into their own. (Maybe we have the kennels too close to each other.)

Rest time

Rest time is different than sleep time. This is when the dogs are kenneled so I can get work done without worrying about what is being destroyed in the house. During this time, they listen to soothing music, play nicely with a toy, catch a few random z’s and even sing (aka bark.)

My calendar now has doggy reminders that are not optional appointments: Let the dogs out, feed them and take a walk. As I care for them throughout the day, I find that these reminders also are vital for me. I need to schedule these timeslots into my day and discipline myself to honor these appointments with myself. Don’t skip these essential activities for the sake of getting more tasks completed.

Sleep time

I go to bed at the same time every night (shortly after the dogs fall asleep) and get up at the same time every morning. This habit keeps my circadian rhythm healthy. I also wear an eye mask when I sleep to shut out any light, like the annoying light on the smoke detector above my bed.

Feeding time

I eat at the same time daily and plan my meals, so I do not eat unhealthy options. Shopping for nourishing food (and not buying extra treats), food prepping, and creating a weekly menu helps me stick to my goals. I tend to get “hangry” (angry when hungry) when not following this system. That’s when I choose poor snacks with no nutritional value.

Have fun

This time of the day is not easy for me. There are so many tasks to complete, and I enjoy my work. Why would I want to take away from that productivity for some fun time? Well, I have learned that if I do not give my brain downtime, it will find ways to waste time later. Wasting time usually consists of binge-watching Tik-Tok videos or absent-minded scrolling on social media. Every brain needs a break, and a fun game can be that break to reenergize you for more tasks.

Rejuvenate and replenish

Giving myself time to replenish is just as challenging as giving myself playtime; however, 10 minutes has proven beneficial. Some days, this is my time to think and re-prioritize my day. Other days this is my time to not think and truly take a break.

Like the dog’s activities, I also need to schedule these non-negotiable appointments for myself. Now that I have decided that these timeframes are important in my day, there is no need to rethink my appointments. Follow my calendar and stay disciplined in our systems.

Kathie Rotz is an executive leadership coach and speaker with Unity Consulting and the author of “You Have Superpowers” online learning program.

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