Interview with Louise Glazebrook aka @darlingdog
Becoming a dog parent for the first time is no easy journey, I can only compare it to having a baby, little sleep, teething, tantrums and a whole lot of bodily fluids exactly where you could do without them. I managed to get through this stage with Bob my Mini Schnauzer and then I had a crazy mutt who loved chasing joggers, biting my hands and generally being a naughty boy! I got in touch with Louise of Darling Dog at the end of my tether to ask for expert help. Her advice and help was incredible, me and Bob put the work in and it worked wonders, no more angry joggers and 7 years later I have a very good boy...95% of the time.
What’s happening in your world right now?
Well, right now I'm filming for the new BBC2 series '12 Puppies & Us' where 12 families are followed. Each one is embarking on taking on a puppy or rescue dog, It's an obs doc, so it's their journey and I go in to help resolve any issues they are struggling with. I've also restarted my puppy classes which is lovely and I'm seeing my clients and their dogs again. It feels so wonderful to be back after lockdown.
What would you say is your top 3 things to consider before getting that new fur baby?
1. Have you chosen the right breed or mix for you? I see so many people who have totally underestimated the heritage of the dog they are taking on. For example, so many people think that a miniature Dachshund is ideal for the city, not taking into account that they bark a huge amount and were originally designed to go to ground to hunt and kill animals.
2. Can you offer your new dog a continual presence, of course there is daycare and dog walkers for every now and then but if you are taking on a dog, shipping it out all day everyday, it really isn't ideal. It will inevitably over bond with its carer more than you.
3. Don't convince yourself that 'my dog will be different' - this is so common when people read a breed description but believe they can change it. Dogs have been bred for hundreds of years, you will not single handedly change their breed traits!
What you should avoid doing with your dog, such as encouraging bad habits etc?
This is a tricky one as each dog is so different but generally speaking, I can't bear it when I hear that a puppy or dog is being left to cry it out. Never do this, seek help as you will create much bigger issues later on.
Try not to keep taking items from your dog's mouth all the time, you may end up teaching your dog to guard items. Seek help to learn the best way to navigate this.
Lastly, don't get into the habit of taking a dog to meet and greet every dog you see, we as humans don't shake hands with every individual we pass on the street. So there is no need for our dogs to either.
How do you keep your dog happy?
My dog Pip is a rescue, after 6 months it feels like he has truly settled in. It has been amazing seeing him develop, settle in and see the fun in life. He is such a gentle soul. He loves running around with my kids and their friends, he loves to play find it games that we have taught him and he finally now realises he is allowed to snuggle up on the bed and sofa with us. For a few weeks, he was too scared to use the stairs, now he merrily trots up and down them. He is a little gem who is so sweet, I'm so happy we found him.
How to have a good doggo versus a naughty doggo, any training tips?
1. Be consistent - don't keep chopping and changing what you do, if you are unsure seek help from a behaviourist. You need to understand the behaviour, not just train a dog.
2. Exercise is key - figure out what your dog needs and make sure they have it, no excuses. Lack of exercise, fun and stimulation can create gigantic behavioural issues.
3. Think about the long term - a cute puppy doesn't stay that way, they grow & get big. And those things you tolerated and even encouraged are the very things that put dog's into rescue homes as they become less cute when the dog is an adult or a couple have kids. It breaks my heart to see.
4. Sniffing is brill - teach your dog sniffing games, it will be the best thing you ever do and it exhausts them.
Any dog myths you wanna bust wide open and call out?
Oh, where do I begin?! First off, do not assume all rescue dogs have issues, they don't. Secondly, do not believe that every dog should be neutered or spayed at 6 months old - hormones have a huge impact on behaviour, growth & scavenging so seek help from a behaviourist to determine the right time for your dog. Lastly, dog food is a commercial business, it's mostly not designed with your dog in mind, it's created to make cash. Seek out the independent businesses doing amazing things, a bit like Lazy Oaf is in the fashion industry. Seek out those with passion and who really care.
What is the best bit of your job?
I genuinely count my lucky stars that I have carved out this career and made this work. I was determined, going to an all girls convent school, this wasn't a usual career path! I just think that dogs are the most incredible creatures who teach us so much. Being able to help families and dogs live together, happily is the best part. I also love coming up with the games and toys for my clients to use with their dogs.
What makes it hard?
When people don't listen. And when people want a behaviour to change but they don't want to put the work in. Luckily, all of my clients have one thing in common, the love of their dogs.
If you weren’t working with dogs what would you be doing?
I have no idea. Dogs make me tick, they are just amazing. Animals and nature are so important to me. By teaching our children to respect an animal, it can have a huge impact on society on encouraging compassion, kindness and love. I think I would always have had to find a way to be with animals on a daily basis one way or another. I definitely have dreams of living with donkeys galore alongside many more dogs.