A dog trainer who’s so successful, he’s been dubbed ‘The Dogfather’, has revealed how to put a stop to the awkward scenario of a dog getting amorous with your – or somebody else’s – leg.
Graeme Hall, 55, who presents the Channel 5 show Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly and has trained thousands of unruly pets, told This Morning today that the reason dogs often don’t get the message is because humans are far too polite with them…which only encourages leg humping even more.
Ahead of the new series of the show, which airs tonight, Hall, who lives in The Cotswolds, joked that French Bulldogs were one of the breeds most guilty of getting frisky with lower limbs – and revealed the first episode sees him cooling the ardour of Frank the Frenchie via a series of well-timed rewards.
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Frankie the very amorous Frenchie! Dog trainer Graeme Hall, dubbed ‘The Dogfather’, reveals that the latest series of his show Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, which airs on Channel 5 tonight, sees him tackling a frisky pooch
Frankie won’t leave his owners’ legs – or anyone else’s – alone…something that Hall dubs ‘super attention seeking’
Speaking to the show’s hosts, Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, Hall said: ‘People are very polite but humans reactions make it worse. When it comes to French Bulldogs, they just love to greet people in that way.
‘It’s a natural instinct to do it, the problem is that we’re all very polite. A dog does that to us – giving what for on your leg – and we say “hello, hello, hello” and they’re like “They’re loving this!”‘
When Schofield asked how you can stop the embarrassing scenario, Hall said ignoring it was the best approach – alongside rewards.
He said: ‘There’s a limit to how much you can ignore… but it’s kind of super-charged attention seeking.
‘You’ve got to find better things to reward with instead and that’s often the secret.’
He said: ‘If I boiled dog training down to one thing, it would be choose the right moment to reward.’
The dog trainer, who was late to the profession, getting his first dog at 40, joked that much of the education that he does with dogs is ’80 per cent human training, 20 per cent dog training’
He joked that much of the work that he does with helping naughty dogs is ’80 per cent human training, 20 per cent dog training’, saying the key is often teaching dogs while they’re still young.
The dog trainer said: ‘The earlier you get things in place for them, the better it goes for them for the rest of their life.
‘If you do have a little puppy, the earlier you can get some really good basic training in, the better.’
He also discussed with the daytime TV show’s hosts how dogs are often barking more at people when entering homes because they’ve become used to people staying away during lockdown
He also told the show that many dogs’ behaviour was affected by lockdown because they didn’t have people in their houses – and so now bark when strangers get past the front door.
‘What was happening, think of this from a dog’s point of view – always a good thing – when the full lockdowns were on, we didn’t have a visitor in the house.
‘If you happened to be a young dog who grew up during that time, all you knew for your whole life during lockdown was that no-one ever came in the house – strangers, visitors, friends.
Tonight’s episode of Hall’s Channel 5 show sees him re-training Frankie the French Bulldog to not get frisky with strangers’ legs
‘On the contrary, they came to the door. At that point, if your dog’s barking and then the person goes away. The dog goes “Ah ha, that got rid of him them. Time and time again, they think: “I bark, you run away.”‘
He advised that owners introduce new faces into the house carefully, taking time to gently get to know the dog.
Despite a late start to his profession, Hall is now enjoying TV and book deals thanks to his skills with canines, but he never intended to become a dog trainer.
Hall was 40 before he even had a dog of his own, and was working as an operations manager at a Weetabix factory in Northampton in the early 2000s when he bought a rottweiler puppy called Axel.
Key: Hall said successful dog training often comes down to rewards, and timing. He said: ‘If I boiled dog training down to one thing, it would be choose the right moment to reward.’
He enjoyed it so much he quit Weetabix and put a notice in the local paper, advertising his services as ‘The Dogfather’.
Within a year he was running successful puppy and adult dog classes for 20 dogs a night – although he has been criticised in the past for not having formal qualifications.
WHAT IS DOG SEPARATION ANXIETY?
Veterinary specialist Dr Joanna Woodnutt MRCVS explains: ‘Separation anxiety is the feeling of panic when an animal is separated from an important “resource” – usually a family member.
It was an evolutionary advantage to stick together in a pack or group, so the feeling of fear when alone was useful to the canine ancestor. The problem is, in modern-day living we need our dogs to be relaxed when left alone for short periods.
Dogs, like humans, suffer from separation anxiety if their special person is absent, and can affect their mental health
This often isn’t the case, and signs of separation anxiety include howling and whining when left alone, or panicking when you go to leave the house. Bad cases will see your dog pacing back and forth, and destructive behaviour such as chewing.
Dr Woodnutt told Pet Radar: ‘Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety may destroy furniture and even injure themselves. It also often gets worse without proper behavioural intervention; a dog that starts out crying when left alone can progress to pure panic and attempts to escape over several months.’