July 10th 2013 |
They say that a dog is man’s best friend. However, you rarely – if ever – see a dog stand his round of drinks down the pub on a Friday night, and neither is a dog likely to lend you twenty quid to tide you over until the end of the month.
And it is a cold day in Hell that you catch your best pal dropping a poo on your kitchen floor, as he stares you dead in the eye with a look on his face that says “Yeah? What are you going to do about it?”
Dogs, then. They’re alright, and we probably wouldn’t get by without the Socked Hound completely dominating our life.
The gentleman needs a dog as a boon companion, loyal pal, and to set on peasants should they rise up in revolt over you treating them as slaves on your estates in Yorkshire.
Your dog, then, needs to be trained.
Accepted wisdom on dog training has changed over recent years. Out of the window has gone the notion of whipping the cur into obedience, possibly due to the increasing numbers of flogging dog trainers found in their beds with their faces eaten off.
So, whipping the cur into obedience is right out of the window, and the emphasis is one rewarding your bundle of fur for his achievements.
When we first took on Socked Hound, he was nigh on wild and just two missed meals away from becoming a wolf. He had spent much of the previous year in a rescue centre, kicking his heels and mixing with canine delinquents who taught him Bad Dog Things.
Many of these Bad Dog Things come from Socked Hound being insecure at his place in the pack, and he needed to be taught his position in the household, and acceptable limits on his behaviour (for eg: Not eating our faces off in the middle of the night).
With the emphasis on reward, we carry a small bag of treats with us for when he performs Good Dog acts. This is especially important when Socked Hound greets other dogs, so he knows there is a tasty snack waiting if he doesn’t start a fight.
One of the most important things is to go against your usual reaction to his behaviour. When a dog runs away, it doesn’t actually help to go chasing after his shouting “Fenton! Fenton! Jesus Christ!” as he thinks you are taking part in the pursuit.
Neither does shouting and screaming at him once he returns, as in his tiny, tiny brain he is certain that by actually coming back he has been a Good Dog. So, ignore the fact that he has run away at all, and reward him for actually coming back, even if he is covered in cow dung and parts of squirrels. After a while, he will realise there’s a treat for not running away at all, and your job is done.
For the face-eating thing, we recommend an ice hockey mask, available from good sports retailers.