To flatter, coax, make much of. Of a dog, to play, gambol.--Michael Traynor's The English Dialect of Donegal, 1953
The now fashionable London neighborhood of Mayfair had humble origins as the site of a fair and of permanent shops, occupied by a wide array of merchants. A small body of water nearby served as a "ducking pond," into which unfortunate ducks were put and then sete upon by water dogs for the coarse amusement of spectators. As one 1748 handbill proclaimed: "At Mayfair ducking pond on Monday next, the 27th of June, Mr. Hooten's dog, with hardly a tooth in his head to hold a duck ... hunts six ducks for a guinea against the bitch called Flying Spaniel ... who has beaten all she has hunted against except Mr. Hooten's good blood[hound]." In the April 1816 issue of Gentleman's Magazine, a Mr. Sharp described the Mayfair of the 1760s as a place of "duck-hunting, prize-fighting, donkey-racing, bull-baiting," and other rough amusements.
Look out -- that duck has a knife!