Friday, April 26, 2013

Dogs Behaving Badly

Well, it's official - Bizz and I completed our 7 Basic Manners 1 Obedience Class.  We mastered all 7 of the behaviors - Sit, Down, Leave it, Let's Go, Come, Wait, and Walking on a Loose Leash.  Our certificate is hanging on the bulletin board over my printer.

 There are a few bad behaviors that we are still working on. Not leaping on me 5-10 times when I return from an absence, not jumping on the dining room table, kitchen counter or his new favorite - the bookcase.  Though I must say while the bookcase is a treasured family heirloom (it held our set of encyclopedias throughout my childhood) - driving up and seeing his little face looking out the window is so impossibly cute I'm not sure I want to break that behavior.  I'm thrilled to say he is obeying the commands for Marina as well.  He does like to bark at scary strangers and periodically he will snap at another dog - usually one much bigger than he is.  And his worst bad behavior - his innate instinct to mark every aisle of the pet store we go to for  his kibble.

So I've been doing a lot of apologizing lately for his bad behavior - to other dog owners, strangers who get barked at and the poor folks at the pet store.  And most people are terrific about it and tell me not to worry.   They understand he's a dog and he's just doing what dogs like to do.  But we're working on it.

This all came to my mind after a meeting when one person apologized for someone else's bad behavior. It suddenly occurred to me - why is she having to apologize? Why should anyone except the person behaving badly have to say they are sorry?  It occurred to me again as I heard Reese Witherspoon - an actress I've always enjoyed - behaved incredibly badly to a policeman who pulled her husband over for a DUI.  She was abusive, rude and most of all condescending to the policeman who was doing his job.  She has put out a sincere apology but she is avoiding doing press for her current movie because she doesn't want to answer questions or perhaps do an on camera apology.

All this brought to mind an old story from when I worked in New Holland PA at a subsidiary of Rochester Telephone.  We had a service rep embedded at one of our biggest customers.  She went to meetings and processed all of their orders.  Well that customer was sold and her job went into a kind of limbo so she was assigned several of our other large customers.  Another  customer was purchased and a new operations person came in - a woman.  Our sales rep decided she didn't like her and went over her head to the person she used to work with.  Sadly she went to someone who was no longer in the chain of command and was bounced back to the person she'd just stepped on. And the operations manager went to our VP and told him - if you want to keep our business she's never allowed near our offices or us again.  It was shocking to everyone.  He apologized for her bad behavior and immediately assigned a new sales person. 

I think of this because I wonder what would have happened if the rep had made her own sincere apologies. And I do mean sincere.  It seems to me that making things right needs to be the responsibility of the individual, just as they must own responsibility for the outcome of their actions.  

 Since Bizz can't speak and he is, after all, a dog, his bad behavior is my responsibility hence I own the apologies that come along with the behavior.  And believe me until I find a class for no barking, jumping or marking I'm doing a lot of apologizing.

Bizz lying in the sunshine on a piece of furniture he is allowed on.

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