It’s a new week and time for a new series of lessons for my dog: barking and growling are not the way to make friends.
I’ve already taught Zara a few lessons: just because it smells like sh*t, doesn’t mean you should eat it and just because you want something doesn’t mean you can bite.
Those are very important lessons, but she could really use this one.
In a Parking Lot on an iPad
It’s currently 6:52 AM on a Wednesday. My son has crew (rowing) each weekday morning this month from 6:00am to 8:00am. Instead of driving him 30 minutes to crew, driving home, then driving back an hour later, it just makes more sense to find a big parking lot and get work done for a couple hours instead of blowing an extra hour on travel.
In order to keep the house peaceful, I bring the pooch with me. She’s sitting in the back seat on a bright red blanket as still as can be. At least at this moment.
Today I decided to roll down her window so she could check out all the smells and noises. It seemed like a good idea until about 10 minutes ago when a couple joggers went by. Even though they were several hundred feet away, she could hear them talking. Her reaction was to try to join in the conversation.
She tossed out a few test woofs under her breath to see if it was okay to throw out a full blown bark. My immediate “no” did not deter her. She decided she needed to test again. This was followed by another “no” and another test. This went on for a good 10 seconds until the joggers were out of view.
Thus I have the newest in lessons for my dog: barking and growling is not the way to make friends.
The Cats Would Agree
To be fair, this is not new. We’ve been working on this for awhile. Zara sees the cats and wants to play. Her immediate approach is to get their attention with a canine “hey” loud enough to wake the neighbors. Then she chases them down as they are obviously leading her somewhere fun.
But here’s the latest of the lessons for my dog: barking and growling is not the way to make friends. You can’t yell at people and get them to like you. You can’t chase them down and force them to do things your way and expect them to be happy. Sometimes you just have to sit quietly and let them come to you.
Zara’s starting to learn that lesson. The more she just sits sweetly, the more the cats become comfortable with her. They may not become the best friends she has in her mind, but they were definitely not going to do that as long as she was yelling.
We make friends by being friendly. We make it more difficult for others to enjoy our company when our company is not enjoyable by being sarcastic or mean. We need to stop the growling and the barking. We need to be kind. That’s the best way to make friends.