It’s official. I am a secret Dog Whisperer. I was reading in yesterday’s Guardian about the Dog Whisperer beloved of Sky watchers and owners of troublesome pooches – Cesar Millan, who has made his fortune changing the behaviour of dogs who drive their owners nuts. And there they were: his Top Training Tips.
A brief summary will give you an idea. You begin with no touch, no talk, no eye-contact with the dog. This, apparently, honours the canine way of getting acquainted.
[I never look at dogs. I pretend they're not there. Even ones I know well]
You mustn’t begin a relationship looking for a soulmate. Apparently this shows if you give the animal a name too soon.
[That's easy. I would never own a dog, so other people have to call them names. I like human soulmates, myself]
You mustn’t attempt to humanise the dog. It’s a dog. It won’t listen to you.
[Golly, do they listen to me. I just say "no" and they listen. Great]
Doggy fulfilment is based on exercise, discipline and affection – in that order. Too many dog owners feel that if they practise the authority figure bit then their dog won’t love them. This, apparently, is all wrong.
[The dogs I practise my skills on with greatest regularity appear to love me, despite my best efforts. I hadn't read this stuff when I met them]
You shouldn’t approach a dog on first meeting. You wait. Apparently this makes the dog respect and trust you.
[I never, ever make up to a dog. It's a pity they're not human, as they don't reciprocate]
You mustn’t talk up a walk before you go. The walk is, apparently, about bonding and creating a pack experience, not going to Disneyland.
[And did you know that dogs can understand spelling? Even W-A-L-K sends them into paroxysms of awfulness]
So there you are. I've been a dog training expert for years and not known it. But you know, it does work, all this stuff. Mrs H's dogs charge to the door, barking madly, see it's me and skid to a halt. They never, ever jump up on me. I just need to work out how to get them to avoid me altogether when we're indoors ... Anyone?