It’s not everyday I work with an X Factor winner, but the opportunity arose earlier this year when Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock needed a little expert help with her dog, a cute Pug cross called Harvey.
It turns out that winning a TV show like X Factor throws up some interesting dilemmas. For a start: What do you do with the puppy you just got when you’re about to undertake an unforeseen six month tour of the United States? It’s not the sort of problem most of us ever have, eh?
The trouble is, this formative period is what shapes a dog’s behaviour in later life. Mum Debbie did the very best she could but three years on the upheaval had left it’s mark. Harvey, he’d decided, was firmly in charge of security, barking at everyone who passed by. It worked – up to a point – because they kept on passing! “He is a complete law unto himself” said Leigh-Anne “He will obey a few commands – but only when he feels like it.”
It’s not so uncommon. Admittedly, winning X Factor is rare but life being turned upside-down happens to many dog owners. People move house, divorce, even die, and the changes sometimes precipitate behavioural changes and anxiety in dogs. The end result is that neither dogs or owners are very happy. Which is where I come in.
I spent a morning with the delightful Leigh-Anne and her family, talking through the various issues and demonstrating the right techniques for Harvey (for barking his head off at unsuspecting pedestrians wasn’t his only party trick). By the end of it, we had an action plan in place to improve things.
It’s very rewarding, this making dogs and people happy together malarkey (whoever I’m working with). If I can help – and you don’t need to be on the telly – pick up the old dog and bone and give me a call.