Watch Dog Book Review: Learn to Lead From Your Dog With “Get the Cookie, Paco!”

Watch Dog aka John D. Williams, Dogster's customer support manager, found a neat book about leadership skills learned from dogs. We're giving one away!


CONTEST ALERT: Read to the end of the review to find out how you can win a copy of the book!

Here at Dogster we typically don’t do many book reviews, but occasionally something comes along which piques our interest. Andrew Krüger’s new book caught my eye because he claims to have discovered a link between management skills and pet behavior, specifically that of his rescue pups, Paco and Zeke.

Those of you who’ve been around a while will remember that we journeyed down a similar road last year with Mark Levin’s book, All I Know About Management I Learned From My Dog. Mr. Krüger’s book is equally delightful on the dog stories’ side, but far more substantive and scholarly on the management side. To be fair, Levin wasn’t trying to write a textbook. I don’t know if Krüger is aiming to crack the textbook market either, but it won’t take you long to realize that he’s discovered some valuable kernels of truth for both academics and dog aficionados.

Get the Cookie, Paco! is equal parts leadership manual, communication devotional, and loveable dog stories, not to mention a human love story, which weaves through the book to the very last page. Krüger is passionate about Paco and Zeke, the intricacies of management and leadership, and the love of his life, Michaele. Somehow he manages to do justice to them all.

Leadership isn’t just for politicians and CEOs to study. It’s for stay-at-home parents, bookstore clerks, and students, too.

According to Krüger, “We need leaders now more than ever. Our world is becoming more complex daily…. If we all increase our everyday leadership skills, even just a little, the accumulated result will be outstanding.” He likens the approach of the book as taking “baby steps.”

This is what I hope you will do with the lessons in this book. Read them. See which ones resonate with you. Try them out. Take baby steps down the hall, out the door, and all the way to becoming a better leader.

The approach is not unlike financial advisor and “entreleadership” pioneer Dave Ramsey’s “baby steps” approach to financial freedom. We all know a budget is important, but sometimes we need help devising an effective battle plan to follow in order to achieve financial security. Everyday leadership is the same way. We know it’s important to be a good leader and we want to be better leaders for our families and businesses, but sometimes we need a proven battle plan to guide us. Krüger provides just such a battle plan: baby steps to better leadership, with our dogs guiding the way.

The wisdom Krüger exacts from his pair of lovable pooches is impressive. It’s organized into six sections: “Working on Yourself,” ” Working with Others,” “Reading Others,” “Leading Others,” “The Bigger Picture,” and “Parting Thoughts.” Here’s a sampling of the chapter titles:

Just Jump In: Acting without complete information

Being Bulldogged: Persistence

The Stare: The drive of a leader

Get the Cookie, Paco! Turning neuroticism into determination

Forget Beer -– Dogs are the Real Social Lubricant: Directing and aligning the efforts of others

Puppy Dog Eyes: Developing personal magnetism

Getting Past Woof: Nonverbal communication is still communication

Not Always the Top Dog: When to lead and when to follow

Chewing Gum Saves Lives: Creating space in the midst of panic and hurry

There are conveniently 52 chapters, so if you’re not one to sit down and barrel through a book in one sitting, Get the Cookie, Paco! works quite nicely as a way to begin or end your week with a little inspiration on leadership. And it is flat out fun to read! Take this gem from chapter 46: “I was stunned. Who thinks to casually unwrap some gum to chew when their plane is going down?” For the details on this true-life crisis in mid-flight, you’ll have to get Krüger’s book.

I’ll close my review with some particularly poignant words from Mr. Krüger:

“If my wife and I had taken everyone else’s advice on what breed of dog to adopt, we most likely would not have adopted either Paco or Zeke. Blue heelers and pit bulls are two of the most abandoned breeds of dogs. They clearly are not very highly valued by others in general as they are dropped off at shelters, left on the side of the road, or worse. We value and love these dogs because of who they are and not because of the perception of others. Something has value because you determine it has value, not because other people say it does.”

Get the Cookie, Paco! definitely has value for dog lovers, entrepreneurs, and those interested in the communication skills of effective leaders. Have you learned any lessons in leadership from your pooch? Please share them.


We have a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader. Just post a lesson in leadership communication that your dog taught you in the comments for this column by noon on Thursday, May 1 (Pacific time). Yes, lessons you learned from someone else’s dog are oka, too. We’ll use to select the winner.

Please note that when you use your Disqus account to comment, if it does not contain a valid e-mail address, you won’t be eligible to win because we won’t be able to contact you! So make sure your account has an e-mail address (even a throwaway one you use only for commenting or contests).

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