‘We don’t have to command them – it’s a relationship’: meet Britain’s top dog whisperer

There are now more dogs in Britain than ever before. And many new owners are not sure how to cope. Louise Glazebrook, the country’s foremost dog behaviourist and author of a brilliant new book, explains how to make the most of your furry four-legged friend

Walking to meet Louise Glazebrook, I see dogs everywhere, even in central London, even on a rainy weekday lunchtime. A Shiba Inu in a neatly belted mac trots past; a shaggy sphere on its owner’s lap in a café peers through a dense fringe at her pastry; a sleek sausage shimmies, belly grazing puddles.

There are more dogs than ever in Britain now – around 12.5m, following an unprecedented pandemic boom (the Dog’s Trust estimates around 1.5m extra dogs were acquired in the past 18 months) as we sought solace at a frightening, lonely time in man’s best friend. But for every wholesome dog and owner in matching onesies on Instagram, or adorably clever TikTok trick, there’s an ankle punctured by razor-sharp puppy teeth, a rug heading for the bin, a shoe concealing an unpleasant surprise or a neighbour grimly purchasing a value pack of earplugs. And it’s far worse than that: many lockdown dogs – some bred in appalling conditions and sold by criminally irresponsible dealers, seeding behavioural problems for the future – are being surrendered to shelters as their owners realise they were unprepared for dog ownership and unable to cope with their pet’s needs.

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