Dog Days of Summer – Our K-9s Give the 411 on Communicating

"What is…" Wednesday – What is a winning award entry?
June 20, 2012
Cat Communications Rebuttal – Our Felines' Reactions
June 22, 2012
Show all



Recently, Abbie’s friend Dana Hughens of Clairemont Communications, posted a blog in which the company’s CMO (chief motivation officer), Billy, had a few bones to pick about social media and what can be learned from K-9s like himself.

Naturally our own communication savvy fur balls got a little jealous and wanted to share their own tricks – not only for social media -- but for building relationships and communicating affectively in a public relations role. Our own Viva Fink, Little Monster “Mo" Lough and Cinder Hanson marked their internet territory by taking over our blog. Here is what they had to say:


  • Be aware of non-verbal communication: Be able to read others’ non-verbal cues like body language and be conscious of what messages you could be sending.

Look past what someone is saying and recognize body language and tone. If a dog’s ears are back and tail is stiff, I know to approach them differently” – Little Monster

“A wagging tail and a firm pat on the head are good things.” – Cinder

“I’m pretty good at anticipating what’s about to come next.  When I see the red leash I know it’s time to go out.” -- Viva


  • …and have strong verbal communication skills:

“But of course, strong oral communication skills are important too – here, take my word for it.” – Little Monster

“I change my tone for each situation.  I have a friendly bark, a serious bark and a let’s-go-for-a-walk bark.” – Viva


  • Be Curious and Observant:  Follow trends, news occurrences, influential people, customers and brand advocates.

“I’m always on high alert for suspicious sounds and curious smells. Who knows what exciting things they could lead to!” – Little Monster

“Fetching the newspaper from the end of the driveway each morning is just a start to my daily news intake.” – Cinder

“I have a nose for what’s new and exciting. I can sniff out a new friend a mile away.” --- Viva


  • Always ready and able to improvise: Be quick on your feet, both in thinking of solutions and being presentable anywhere at any time.

“I can go from being curled-up tight in a ball snoozing to running out my doggie door to bark at the garbage truck in a matter of three seconds.” – Little Monster

“When in doubt, peanut butter is a great substitute for a Milk Bone treat.” – Viva


  • Eager to please: Make your human, clients, boss and customers happy. You will be rewarded.

“Wanna see me do a trick? I can sit, stay, lie down and stand up – just ask!” – Little Monster

“I give great hugs…and sometimes that’s all it takes to change someone’s mood.”  Viva


  • Be transparent: Be honest with your client, co-workers, the media and most importantly, yourself.

“You know the phrase ‘where’s the poop?’ Well, it comes from dogs and our guilty puppy eyes.” – Little Monster

“You can read me like an open book. My eyes give me away.” – Viva


  • Obey (with instincts intact):  Your client, your boss, your deadline. But if you feel something is not right, let them know.

“I didn’t put ‘come’ on my list of tricks for this reason. I know what ‘come’ means, and I will if you offer me a good reason (treat!). But if I see you have the nail clippers or bath soap or one of those silly sweaters mom’s always trying to get me to wear, good luck catching me!” – Little Monster

“Yes, I graduated 2nd in my class at puppy training.  I can follow most commands, but sometimes a perfectly good ‘sit’ is just going to have to be ok.” – Viva


  • A nice long walk can fix a lot of problems: Everyone needs time to clear their mind, whether to brainstorm new pitches, facing down a difficult problem or just to distress.

“If I’m cooped-up for too long I get what Mom calls ‘crazy eyes’ and run laps around the living room. Don’t let people think you’re crazy! Going for a walk helps take the crazy out.” – Little Monster

“Especially when you can’t find a solution, stretch your legs a bit. I find it quite helpful.” -- Viva


  • Stop and smell the hydrants- even when they smell bad: In the busy world of PR we often forget to stop and gauge what is happening in the moment or what our teammates are doing – both the good and the bad.

“I stop and smell everything. Helps me know whose territory I am in. If I don’t, or if get too distracted doing own things, I could wound up in the wrong dog yard if you know what I mean.” – Little Monster

“Never pass up the opportunity to check in and see what’s what.” -- Viva


  • Be loyal: Make those connections with the media that are mutual beneficial and cherish those relationships.

“I show you a trick, you give me a treat! Scratch my ears and I’ll curl up on your feet to keep them warm. It’s a win-win and I’m forever your best friend!” – Little Monster

“Even when you are gone all day or take me to camp, I know you love me and will always come back.  Refer to hug comment above.” – Viva


  • Bark before you bite: Address a problem in its infancy to avoid bigger issues.

“I would never bite another dog without a proper stare down and growl first. Usually they get the hint.” – Little Monster

“Truthfully my bark is much worse than my bite, which more often than not turns into a sloppy kiss.” – Viva


  • Some lawns are off limits: Know how individuals prefer to work and how to interact with each type of person.

“Everyone is different, and while I’d love to run across every yard I see, I know that some I must proceed with caution. I like to call those neighbors ‘cat people’. ” – Little Monster


  • Be clear about what you want: Don’t expect anyone to guess what you are thinking or what your goals are.

“I roll over when I want a belly rub, bring a toy when I want to play, scratch the door when I want to go out. Pretty simple stuff.” – Little Monster

“Be proactive.  Bring the leash when it’s time for a walk.” - Cinder    

“Have to agree with Little Mo and Cinder on this one.” – Viva


  • Make it a point to meet new people: Go bark at strangers.

“I make sure to thoroughly sniff over everyone I meet. Always greet with a tail wagging before judging…unless that person is wearing a hat. I always bark at people in hats.”– Little Monster

“No one’s a stranger in my book. A quick hello and a pat on the head and we’re friends for life.” – Viva



Viva Fink is a cocker-lab mix who can be seen in the HMA World Headquarters on occasional weekends. Her favorite things to do are going to PAWS Salon for camp and spending time with her human, Abbie. You can follow her on Twitter here or friend her on Facebook here.







Little Monster Lough is a Shiba Lhasa Inu Apso who is waited on paw and foot by Stephanie. Her hobbies include dining at dog-friendly establishments, riding in bike baskets and frequenting animal rescue charity walks. You can find out what she is barking about on her Twitter.






Cinder Hanson is the senior dog of the pack and leaves the social media to the young pups. She is committed to delivering the Hanson family hard-breaking news each and every day, hot off the end of the driveway.

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.


  1. Dana Hughens says:

    Billy says, “Two paws up!” He also gave this what we call the roo-roos. Roo-roos are reserved for people and things he loves most. He commonly greets his daddy at the door with “Roo, roo, roo, roo, roo!” Not quite a bark. Not quite a howl.

    Billy also thinks he and Cinder would make a very attractive couple. (Sorry Viva… you have to admit that since they look alike, they would be stunning together!)

    Personally, I love this post! Great work HMA PR pups and people! Carry on in this dog-eat-dog world….

  2. Dana – I will be gentle when I break the news to Viva. Yes, Cinder is quite adorable and quite talented too. Not only does she fetch the paper each morning, she is a very good swimmer – I affectionately refer to her as “Cinder the Amazing Diving Dog.”

  3. And all of this just a day before “Bring your dog to work day.”

  4. Stephanie Lough says:

    I’m at work – where are all our new bloggers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *