Deborah Ross: My lesson in manners – for my dog

If you ask me... it is high time someone explained to you about good manners, Monty

If you ask me, that email from the future mother-in-law to her son's fiancée admonishing her bad manners filled me with the urge to write a similar, critical missive and, casting about for a suitable, interloping family member, my eye fell upon the dog who, at that moment, was slurping noisily at his genitals with his usual gusto. So I put it to him:

"Dear Monty, it is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and we would appreciate if, in future, you took on board the following guidance:

* You should not steal food from work surfaces, raid the kitchen bin or drink from the toilet and, instead would respectfully ask you channel these energies into substantially less déclassé and more helpful activities, like making the beds, pairing socks and handing round the Ferrero Rocher at parties.

* When we are at table, please do not slip underneath and quietly chew on a guest's handbag so that, when she later reaches to retrieve it, she comes up with the handles only. This sort of behaviour not only causes great embarrassment but can, if it is an expensive Italian handbag, land us a with a bill for several hundred pounds.

* When we are in the park and pass a man sitting down, please restrain from urinating on the jacket he has slung over the back of the bench, as we will be shouted at and then chased with a big stick.

* If you are going to spit out the worming pill some time after you have eaten the ham it was wrapped in, could you try to look a little less triumphant about it, and desist from performing what we have termed your "Happy Dance"? (If you want to try the Happy Dance at home, you must spin in excited circles while giving every impression you are trying to bite your own balls off.)

* When out on walks and a lady dog obviously does not want "sexy time" we suggest you take No for an answer the first time, which is the much more gentlemanly option.

* When out on walks and a lady dog does agree to sexy time, it is polite to look as if it meant something to you afterwards. (Also, don't take her number if you are not going to call. It is cruel.)

* Although we all feel the need to lick our genitals on occasion, really? So often? With so much gusto, and so slurpingly? If you want to be a good boy and our best boy, you would ask yourself this, at least.