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By Corey Ford



Every dog should have a man of his own. There is nothing like a well-behaved person around the house to spread the dog’s blanket for him, or bring him his supper when he comes home man-tired at night.


For example, I happen to belong to an English Setter who acquired me when he was about six months old and has been training me quite successfully ever since. He has taught me to shake hands with him and fetch his ball. I’ve learned not to tug at the leash when he takes me for a walk. I am completely housebroken and I make him a devoted companion.


The first problem a dog faces is to pick out the right man- a ay and affectionate disposition is more important than an expensive pedigree. I do not happen to be registered but my setter is just as fond of me as though I came from a long line of blue bloods. Also, since a dog is judged by the man he leads, it is a good idea to walk the man up and down a couple of times to make sure his action is free and he has springy hindquarters.


The next question is whether the dog and man should share the house together. Some dogs prefer a kennel because it is more sanitary, but my setter decided at the start that he’d move right in the house with me. I can get into any of the chairs I want except the big overstuffed chair in the living room, which is his.


Training a man takes time. Some men are a little slow to respond, but a dog who makes allowances and tries to put himself in the man’s place will be rewarded with a loyal pal. Men are apt to be high-strung and sensitive, and a dog who loses his temper will only break the man’s spirit.


Punishment should be meted out sparingly-more can be accomplished by a reproachful look than by fly8ing off the handle. My setter has never raised a paw to me, but he has cured me almost entirely of the habit of running away. When he sees me start to pack my suitcase he just lies down on the floor with his chin on his forepaws and gazes at me sadly. Usually I wind up by canceling my train reservations.


The first thing to teach a man is to stay at heel. For this lesson the dog should hook one end of a leash to his collar and loop the other end around the man’s wrist so he cannot get away. Start down the street slowly, pausing at each telephone pole until the man realizes that he’s under control. He may tug and yank at first, but this can be discouraged by slipping deftly between his legs and winding the leash around his ankles. If the man tries to run ahead, brace all four feet and halt suddenly, thus jerking him flat on his back. After a few such experiences the man will follow his dog with docility. Remember, however, that all such efforts at discipline must be treated as sport, and after a man has sprawled on the sidewalk the dog should lick his face to show him it was all in fun.


Every man should learn to retrieve a rubber ball. The way my setter taught me this trick was simple. He would lie in the center of the floor while I carried tha ball to the far side of the room and rolled it toward him, uttering the word “Fetch”. He would watch the ball carefully as it rolled past him and under the sofa. I would then get the ball from under the sofa and roll it past him again, giving the same command, “Fetch!”


This lesson would be repeated until the setter was asleep. After I got so I would retrieve the ball every time I said “Fetch”! my dog substituted other articles for me to pick up, such as an old marrow bone or a piece of paper he found in the wastebasket.


The matter of physical conditioning is important. A man whose carriage is faulty, and who slouches and droops his tail, is a reflection on the dog who owns him. The best way to keep him in shape is to work him constantly and never give him a chance to relax. Racing him up and down the street at the end of a leash is a great conditioner. If he attempts to slump into an easy chair when he gets back, the dog should leap into it ahead of him and force him to sit in a straight-backed chair to improve his posture. And be sure to get him up several times a night to go out for a walk, especially if it is raining. Equally important is diet. Certain liquids such as beer have a tendency to bloat a man and a dog should teach him restraint by jumping up at him and spilling his drink, or tactfully knocking the lass off the table with a sweet of his tail.


Not every dog who tries to bring up a man is as successful as my setter. The answer lies in understanding. The dog must be patient and not work himself into a tantrum if his man can’t learn to chase rabbits or wriggle under fences as well as the dog does. After all, as my setter says it’s hard to teach an old man new tricks.
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"The Vizslak Sentinel "  (c) Jan 13, 2009
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