We were asked to come in and manage this effort utilizing the existing team and augmented in where needed. Part of the augmentation was to put in place a proposal manager from the Strategic Proposals’ bench. We did this very quickly and with little to no introductions to the existing team. In hindsight, we should have seen the problems this would cause. As you might guess, the proposal manager who was already in place was not happy about having someone intrude on his turf and was not thrilled to be working with the person we introduced. There was constant friction, questioning and tension between these two individuals.
As those of you who are regular readers of this blog will be aware, I have a dog (a 3 year old, male American Staffordshire terrier [aka- a Pit Bull] named Jack) and I am a fairly experienced dog trainer (having had several dogs pass the American Kennel Club “Canine Good Citizenship” test.).
The owner was quite obviously fearful and continued to pull on the leash. And the more he pulled, the more aggressive the dog became, including growling and showing teeth.
Based on years of experience*, a good understanding of dog behavior and knowing how to read a dog’s body language, I suggested to the owner that he loosen the leash and let his dog approach Jack. He was reluctant to do so, but I assured him that Jack would be well mannered and that I was experienced enough to handle the situation. I directed him to keep control of the leash but not to pull back on it or tighten it unless I told him to do so.
He somewhat reluctantly and hesitantly loosened the leash. As soon as he did, his dog bounded over to Jack, sniffing him, and run around him. I told Jack to remain lying down for a moment and then, once the other dog had calmed down somewhat, I let Jack know it was okay to say hi. He immediately jumped up and approached the other dog. But Jack didn’t approach the other dog head on. Instead, he approached sideways, and attempted to sniff the other dog’s butt. The other dog meanwhile, as soon as Jack was standing, was doing the same thing.
The two dogs spent about 30 seconds sniffing each other, confirmed that they weren’t a threat to one another and then both dogs went into a ‘play bow’**, signifying their desire to play together.
When I attended the post proposal review later that afternoon, one of my first comments was that we had not managed the introductions of the two proposal managers correctly and that we neglected to allow them the opportunity to “sniff each other’s butts”.
*Only someone who is very experienced with dogs should attempt to introduce dogs who are not familiar with each other. There is a significant chance of a dog becoming aggressive in such situations.
**A play bow is a posture a dog will assume ― paws extended in front, shoulders lowered, head low, butt raised, usually with tail and butt wagging ―to indicate his/her desire/willingness to play with another dog. A dog will also indicate a desire to play by slapping a paw in front of them or by reaching out with a paw and touching the other dog.