Say cheese for perfect pooch

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Dogs are very straightforward animals.

Walk them, feed them and be nice to them and you’ve pretty much got a friend for life.

Our 18-month-old saluki/whippet-cross Walter is finally calming down a little bit. Progress has been glacial but (touch wood) we rarely find whole rooms and their contents shredded anymore or food stolen off the kitchen worktop which he used to use as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

He’s still a bit of a handful and loves nothing more than sprinting after anything that bolts, especially grey squirrels and he caught his first one of those last week.

He ran around with it in his mouth with all the glee of the winning goal-scorer in the FA Cup final as my wife screamed her head off in horror and disgust.

We’ve been given loads of great tips about these 40mph couch potatoes but the best bit of advice is this – they’re absolute lunatics until their second birthday. Once they get past the destructive puppy stage they’re as good as gold. We prepare for our daily four-mile walk with as much care as we took with camping trips when our kids were toddlers. Certain props are essential for a fighting chance of getting him back on the lead at the end when he doesn’t agree that it’s home time.

First up there’s a plastic pot full of cheese cut into little cubes because the one voice he’s always listened to is the one in his stomach. Take the lid off that and he’s at your feet within seconds.

Then there’s the poo bags, of which there are at least 10 in a pocket of every jacket I own. There should be a law that states any owner who doesn’t pick up their dog’s poo should have THEIR noses rubbed in it, not the dog’s.

And the latest weapon in Mission: Recall is a very expensive whistle. Two toots on that and it works every time, about 50 per cent of the time, when he fancies a lump of cheese and there are none of his Labrador mates around to box with and chew.

But it’s good to see him back on his feet after he yakked up his breakfast last Friday and took to his bed for 48 hours. Some people say I spoil him but he normally loves his scrambled eggiweg on cold winter mornings.