I am keen on Puppy Training, I mean very keen. I’m the swotty one who went to the first class without the dog so’s I could take notes. You see I’m scared of dogs - behind every cutie-pie there’s an American Pitbull straining to get out and eat my hand for breakfast! So I need to be in control, or I’ll be cowering in a corner and Archie will be the one wearing the trousers as well as eating the shoes.
I have already faced my doggy demons. Guided by various American videos, I have placed my hand between Archie’s teeth, waited for him to start munching then roared ‘OWWWWWWW!’ This will teach him not to bite, hopefully while there’s still some flesh on my fingers. If that doesn’t work, I have to reinforce the message by bearing my teeth, looking in his eyes and GRRRRRRRRROWLING fiercely. GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!
At puppy training the first lesson is that all family members are above poochkins in the pecking order; so when the children rise of a morning, they should not dive upon Archie and shower him with love-talk (‘Archie darling! Hello Archie! You’re so cute Archie Parchy - I love you!’) for ten minutes, then throw me an aside ‘I’m bored of Branflakes’. No, they should greet Mother and each other ‘Good morning brother!’ ‘Did you sleep well, little sis?’ before Archie even gets a look in. All of which is well-nigh impossible because they hate each other, but we’re working on it.
Anyhow, I was on the phone to the puppy-trainer, Sue, about plops, before the first session. Praise the good and ignore the bad, she said. ‘Yes, I know, I know,’ I said and explained I’d been swooping on Archie mid-poo and charging into the garden with him, his four little legs wiggling in the air, and me yelling ‘GOOD BOY’ as the product landed outside the back door. Sue was silent for a minute then said that my zeal would terrify him into pooing in secret places and that I should ‘keep calm’. I should ‘name it’ wheresoever it may fall (‘Poo!’ point and smile, gritted teeth), and merely congratulate the successfully placed ones (which is where standing outside in the dark freezing your b------- off comes in).
So the garden door is now permanently open, to calmly encourage the chances of success, though Alan The Dog Expert keeps closing it because he gets chilly (‘Don’t sit about then!’ I say. ‘There’s the hoover’). ‘Take him out, take him out!’ he says in the next breath - ‘then he’ll learn to poo outside!’ DER. ‘Excuse me’ I say, ‘what do you think I’m doing every five minutes from 6am to midnight?? Stop shutting the door. GRRRRRRRRRRR!!’