Coronavirus: Cats and dogs 'may need vaccinating' says expert
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Thousands of new dogs have been bought during lockdown, many of which have had to be rehomed when owners did not know how to cope with their erratic behaviours. Graeme said: “The inference is that people went off glibly and got a puppy. But by and large people got through the initial lockdown puppy problems. “Not many were getting rehomed at that point, but when the puppies got to five or six months we started to hear that the shelters were full. “I’ve come across research at Newcastle University which talks about ‘teenage dogs’ –when puppies start to go through adolescence.
“Up until one-year-old they act like human teenagers. It’s like ‘Kevin The Dog’ from Harry Enfield. If they speak, they’d be going, ‘Make meee!’ all the time.
“They act as though everything has gone horribly wrong.
“What happens when you’re inexperienced – and this is what happened last year – [new owners] go, ‘I’ve got a bad one, and it’s not for me’ and they rehome.
“I’ve seen reasonable people saying, ‘This dog needs more than I can give’. But if they hang on through that period it will be OK really.”
He also warned the nation’s pet owners to be alert to criminal gangs during lockdown.
The TV “dogfather” has been busy teaching new tricks to dogs old and young during lockdown in his popular show Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.
But he also warned owners that puppies are at a premium because of the lockdown and thieves are resorting to some extraordinary tactics.
Graeme, 56, said gangs would even befriend dog walkers to find out about their pets before stealing them for breeding.
He said: “As the popularity of dogs has gone up, so has the price of puppies gone up, and people have ended up selling puppies to all the wrong people. Some were sold for thousands.
“Organised gangs have driven some of this. You’d think they would nick a dog and sell it for a quick profit, but what they’re actually doing is chatting to people walking dogs and getting their dog’s background.
“They would find out if a female dog had been neutered or not. They would then steal the dog and take it off for breeding. It’s a deplorable state of affairs.”
Graeme’s Channel 5 show is now in its third season. Its success has now spawned a book and a podcast.
In each episode Hall visits three dog-owning households from around the country, spending a few hours, or as long as is takes, to put each pooch right. He rarely fails. He told how he arrived at dog training via an unlikely route.
He said: “I left uni in the late 80s with a degree in Spanish. It’s almost relevant because I am communicating with someone who speaks a different language.
“I then worked for Weetabix for 21 years – so I made your breakfast for two decades – managing the factories.
“I was considering being a management consultant but got diverted when I had to train my two pet Rottweilers. They were very much seen as the devil breed and I didn’t want them to cause trouble in the village.
“These two, I thought, have got to be perfect so I threw myself into dog training, and discovered I had a thing for it.”
But Graeme doesn’t bark on about his success.
He said he is just trying to educate and entertain an ever-growing dog-owning nation.
He explained: “Fans stop me in the street and say they find it an entertaining show, but it’s got emotion in it too.
“There’s a range of feelings on show, from happy to sad, and grief as well. It gets to me too, you know. You can see in my face. But I try to make it as informative as possible.
“Helping people is what has driven me right from the start, but you can only fix the dogs through the people.”
And the best new dog for a lockdown purchase?
He said: “You need to find a dog that matches your energy level. If you’re a very active person, you could go for a Border Collie.
“But if you’re slowing down and entering retirement, that dog would drive your crazy.
“If you really push me and say one breed, all I would say is if you watch Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, keep an eye on how many Labradors there are. Not many.”
Hall is noted for his smart dressing, but his outfits have one thing in common: cravats. “It’s probably a mark of how sad I am,” he said, “but I have 27 cravats. A video editor once asked to re-record a piece wearing my burgundy cravat. ‘I’ve got seven of them’ I told him.
“I do also have to remember which one I’ve worn with which dog, especially if I’m returning there.
“I once bought a job lot [of cravats] on an auction site. I got a bag of five cravats for £8.50.
“But I have been known to pay full price for them too from a gentleman’s outfitters.”
At 6ft 2in he can tower over his badly behaved dogs, but that is only part of it, he said.
“It’s that calm assertive presence that does it. It gives off a reassuring message. It rubs off.
“If you look the part, you’re more than half-way there with dogs.”
● Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, Tuesdays, 8pm, Channel 5; Talking Dogs with Graeme Hall is available on all major podcast platforms.
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