In 1911, J. M. Barrie penned the classic tale, Peter Pan. In chapter sixteen, Barrie uses a plot device in which the father of the family, Mr. Darling, consigns himself to the dog's kennel as a way to show his remorse for accidentally getting the children kidnapped. In the UK, where Barrie was living when he authored this wonderful story, dogs don't live in doghouses, but in kennels. This seems, then. like the perfect explanation for how the phrase got started. And many etymologists will agree. But, still, the phrase is "in the doghouse" and not "in the kennel." So was that the origin of the phrase, or not? Perhaps we'll never know for sure.
What we do know is that the actual expression "in the doghouse" was first found in print in the 1926. J.J. Finnerty's publication, Criminalese, a glossary of the language of criminals. It lists the term "dog house" an gives meaning as "in disfavor." There are other references to people, and actual dogs, being "in the doghouse" but they are used with a straightforward literal meaning. The phrase began to be used, with its figurative meaning, in the 1930's. One early example, is found in a 1933 Iowa newspaper, The Waterloo Daily Courier. An article there reads, "The poor French Ambassador! You can't help but feel kind of sorry for him. He is still in the doghouse."
Whatever the true origin of the phrase, it is clear that no one (not even us frogs) likes being in the doghouse! So how do you get back into "favor" with the person who's sent you to the doghouse? Here are a couple of tips:
1. Put down the technology. If spending too much time using your technology gadgets is what got you into trouble, certainly don't use a text or email message to apologize! Even if technology isn't what caused you to fall out of favor with someone, it's never a good idea to apologize via text or email. A face-to-face apology, or a hand-written note, works best.
2. Meet at a favorite coffee house, or park (anyplace neutral that allow for conversation). The purpose, here, is to start talking. Listen to what the other person has to say without being judgmental or becoming defensive. Find out why you're in the the doghouse, then offer suggestions of ways you can improve or fix the situation. Be genuine!
3. Send flowers, chocolates, or an appropriate gift. Include a hand-written note apologizing for your indiscretion and be sure to state that you are committed to fixing the problem. Either make suggestions on ways you can change your behavior or attitude...or ask them to suggest ways that they think will make things better. Be prepared to make the necessary changes. Don't just give them "lip-service."
4. Fixing it with your boss. If your "doghouse" problem happened at work, like mine do, then nicely ask your boss for a few minutes of their time. Sit down with them, one-on-one, and offer a genuine heartfelt apology. Then make recommendations on ways to improve your behavior. You can conclude your talk by asking them if there is anything else you can do to make things right. Pay attention to what they say and, again, be prepared to make the required changes. Then consider the incident over and move on.
If you're in the doghouse, or know someone that is, remember to use #GetOutoftheDoghouseDay on all your social media. An leave the doghouse for Fido. He'll appreciate having more room.