I AM a simple man. I like to know where I stand. I like to know what is expected of me; what rules I need to follow. Which side of the pavement to walk on, how to order a pint in a pub without pushing in, how much to tip your barber, which queue to join. My life became so much easier with the invention of the single snaking queue in post offices...

Over the years I have developed an understanding of these things. It make me happy and stops me from making a fool of myself. I embrace the unwritten Debretts of the middle aged man in Taunton. We all know where we stand and all is good with the world.

But then I got a dog and the rules changed.

Now it is all confusing. There is no Debretts for dogs. When me and the hound are out in Vivary Park and another dog approaches us by the bandstand what am I meant to do? Do we greet or walk on? Are we meant to share ball throwing duties or take it in turns? If so, who goes first? When we’re jogging along the Bridgwater Canal and there are a group of cyclists what is the correct behaviour? Do we stand aside, collar firmly gripped and barking enthusiastically, or do we engage and encourage?

The hound doesn’t care of course. She careers from one event to the next, throwing herself with unthinking abandon into whatever is in her path: dogs, walkers, cyclists, tractors, horses. She has no regard for any rules – which I guess explains the strange olfactory approach she adopts to greeting other canines.

What is particularly confusing is what I am meant to do while she is diving into the latest life experience. While she is sniffing some strange dog’s nether regions, what do I do? Do I make polite conversation? Do I look the other way? Do I look embarrassed and apologetic? Somehow talking about the weather seems inappropriate. One of the great things about being a middle aged man (apart from controlling the means of production and having an historically unfair advantage in the jobs market) is that usually you can always talk about football. It covers most socially awkward situations.

So I am looking for advice. What is your dog rule? Together we can make a difference; Doggy Debretts here we come.