Down sir! How to bring a man to heel

Question: what to do if your man runs away from you? Answer: whatever you do, don't give chase. These and other useful tips are provided in a tiny tome from New York by Karen Salmansohn.
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You had to wonder what such a huge rock star was doing reading such a small book. And once you had answered that question to any satisfaction, you had to wonder whether maybe you shouldn't pick it up, too. The star is Madonna, self-anointed queen of all things famous and scandalous. The book, How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers, is a slim volume written by Karen Salmansohn, a former New York copywriter.

A delicious parody of the current slew of touchy-feely tomes purporting to explain why men's brains prefer soccer to candlelight dinners, How to Make Your Man Behave is a huge hit among American women made nauseous by The Rules. America is ground zero when it comes to instant gratification, from fast food to relationships. Why communicate with your other half (so labour intensive - you could be shopping), why play complicated rules, when you could simply train him like Barbara Woodhouse to respond to your commands?

Face it girls, says Salmansohn in her book, all men are dogs. So treating them like, well, men, is going to get you absolutely nowhere. But comprehend their inherent dog natures and train them to love AND obey you, now that's an idea approaching Einstein's theory of relativity.

The mystery, however, remains regarding Madonna. Is there anything this 40-year-old siren, no slouch when it comes to sex and control, can still learn about men?

Actually, says Salmansohn, who is a huge fan, given Madonna's divorce and string of broken relationships, plenty. In fact, she suggests the Material Girl and Bridget Jones are sisters under the skin.

Every woman who has ever had problems in relationships can use dog-training tips. I think Bridget could have really used them, and Madonna too. Why not?

Salmansohn, who describes her age as "thirtysomething", deplores the practice of tricking your man into submission by following The Rules. Rather, she thinks Barbara Woodhouse was a genius ahead of her time. "You can train them but it's not easy," she counsels. "I am still trying to train my boyfriend to fetch me jewellery." The inspiration for the book came, ironically, from Salmansohn's cats. Due to a dearth of feline training manuals, she began reading books on canines to pick up tips.

"I realised all these strategies could be applied to men and began speaking with dog trainers to prove my theory." And prove it she does. After explaining how important it is to recognise what type of breed your man is -- sporting dog, working dog, hound, terrier, toy dog - she reveals the secrets to unlocking dog behaviour and manipulating it.

For example: mentally substitute the word "man" in the following set of instructions: "If your dog is running away from you, the worst thing you can do is chase after him, he'll only run faster. Until trust is built, keep him on a leash, progressively lengthen it as your trust grows and if that trust is questioned, advance to a choke collar.

"The most effective method for making a dog do what you want is still the old-fashioned reward system. First find out what your dog's favourite treats are and then promise him one of those treats if he does what he's told.

"A dog will always check out others' private parts to check out how friendly he wants to be, and long courting periods are not required before he starts humping."

She adds: "No matter how attached he is, a dog will have the occasional urge to stray."

Salmansohn is quick to add that before men rise up en masse to register their disgust, they should realise women are doing this for their own good. "Professional dog trainers say a trained dog is happier because he feels you care. And the book is really about teaching women that dogs speak dog talk and we speak our talk, and if we want to establish a relationship, we have to learn to speak fluent dog."

Salmansohn also warns women not to be fooled by appearances. Good looking dogs/men may not make the best companions.

"Never judge a dog on his looks, but personality and temperament. And when it comes to an older dog, they are much harder to train and you really have to ask yourself whether you want to put in the time and energy."

Salmansohn quit the advertising business at 27 to write full time, and while her doggie book has not stopped selling ("I think it struck a nerve because it acknowledges we are having a hard time communicating with men") she has also penned a novel, 50 Per Cent Off, and two more best-sellers, both just as tart and provocative.

How to Succeed in Business without a Penis is a manual for women climbing the corporate ladder in high heels. "I always say my first two books were about man's two best friends, their dog and their penis. But I wrote it to follow the doggie book because I wanted to empower women. I fear a lot of women feel that to succeed in business they have to imitate men and worse, imitate stupid, obnoxious men. The problem is men are more goal oriented, while women can get sidetracked by their emotions. I teach women to let their long-term goal play the dominant role."

Her follow-up, Whip Your Career into Submission, unlocks the secrets of S and M, that's success and money to you.

"You have the option to be the master or the slave of your own destiny," she says, pointing out the theme of the manual, which is full of career advice wrapped in bondage terminology.

Salmansohn can also be found often on breakfast television in New York, doling out relationship advice, one dog biscuit at a time. "I always say those who can't do, teach, and those who really can't do, teach on TV."

In spite of the impact of The Rules, Salmansohn says she is very optimistic about the future of relationships. "The great thing is, women don't need men to support them financially any more, so marriage will no longer be about subservience, but emotional fulfilment.

"Dog training and man training is all about building a loving bond. But to do that you really have to understand that dogs will always be dogs, and it's better to speak their language (fetch, heel, roll over, beg) if you want them to be your best friend."