It’s a disaster for dogs and terribly sad for us. We need emergency relationship therapy, which is where Glazebrook comes in. She’s a dog behaviourist, but there’s as much human as dog behaviour involved in her work. A canine-human Esther Perel, she’s adept at unpicking how we misunderstand each other, then offering compassionate, sensible solutions and strategies. Unsurprisingly, Glazebrook is more in demand than ever – people are desperate. She’s had calls in the middle of the night and even on Christmas Day. “I had someone tying their dog outside our front door trying to leave it,” she tells me over coffee. We’re both, sadly, dogless: Pip – her rescue collie – is at home; so is my ancient whippet Oscar.I get it, I’ve seen it. In addition to her private clients (from families to celebrities), puppy classes and online courses with her Darling Dog Company, Glazebrook is a BBC regular, troubleshooting all manner of canine conundrums. Most recently she appeared on 12 Puppies and Us, which followed the ups and downs of a dozen families and their pandemic pups. You see the stressed owners’ shoulders drop in relief as she takes charge. A confident, kind, never-judgmental presence, she is passionately dog-centred, but realistic about what stretched families can manage. Her solutions can be as simple as giving a dog a quiet space away from the overload of family life or making sure a puppy is getting enough sleep.
This is a copycat version of the kind made by Greenies.
Use Baking Soda to Clean up Pet Urine. If your dog pees on the carpet use baking soda (which is also great at removing odors) to clean it up. Pour some baking soda over the spot, let it sit for 20 minutes and then vacuum it up.
“We’re all going through different things in our lives,” she says. “A massive part of my job is going, ‘OK, that’s the ideal situation, but that’s not going to happen. So what’s realistic and how can we make a difference?’”Now we can all get a bit of Glazebrook wisdom without calling her at midnight. The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read is a passion project, planned before Covid but given new urgency by everything Glazebrook witnessed during. Writing it (in 12-hour shifts in a friend’s office) was “intense” she says. “I actually got really emotional, because I saw in lockdown what we as a society were doing to dogs. I remember sitting there one night just crying – we call ourselves a nation of dog lovers, yet essentially, we’re fucking them over. It felt like this really horrible moment for dogs.”
That doesn’t mean it’s a grim read – the book is packed with positive, practical advice. Yes, Glazebrook has firm views and clear rules. If you’re getting a puppy, it must be at eight weeks, and you must devote a big chunk of time to settling any dog in. She includes non-negotiable red flags for breeders you should walk away from (you absolutely must see a puppy in a home setting with its mother; service station handovers, no photos and trembly pups are complete no-nos). Glazebrook was horrified at how the pandemic allowed unscrupulous puppy farms to flourish and is desperate for this cruel trade to end. But mainly, her absolute, infectious delight in dogs is apparent on every page (there are surprises, too: I had no idea licking you can be a polite dog way of saying “go away”). Play is central to Glazebrook’s philosophy and the book is joyfully filled with play suggestions: cardboard boxes, “go find it” challenges and sensory games. She’s light years away from the macho Cesar Millán school of “alpha dog” domination and far too glamorous to be labelled the “new Barbara Woodhouse”. At 40, she’s too young to remember those sturdy tweeds and stentorian Home Counties tones. “We don’t have to command them,” she says. “It should be a relationship.”
The routine of caring for a pet can bring structure and purpose to daily life. Maybe you don’t always want to get out of bed, but your pet wants you to. Isn’t that a good thing?
I’m interested in the doggy relationships that have shaped her. Glazebrook was, she says, born dog mad. “My mum and dad say I have always been obsessed, even when I was two.” Her first love was Buster, her grandparents’ working Labrador (“they gave him a cup of tea every night, I vividly remember that.”) Next came Gus, a neighbour’s “big, black, frisky Labrador” who Glazebrook basically adopted. “They let me have him all the time. After school I would go and get him. He would play with me in the garden; I would walk him; I would do training stuff with him…” Already at school she was desperate to work with dogs. “Everyone else wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor or whatever, it was not really the done thing.” She studied sociology and childhood studies, “But at university, I became obsessed with the security dogs, I started taking them out and exercising them!”Her work as a toy industry researcher focused on play has clearly not gone to waste, but Glazebrook spent all her wages and spare time on dog training courses and placements. She volunteered in council kennels, walking dogs on “death row. I wanted them to have a last walk.” Then, after a stint working with street dogs in India, Glazebrook started running the Dogs Trust’s Take the Lead programme, working with young offenders and rescue dogs. That experience gave her vital insights into what can influence our relationship with dogs. “I remember there was this young kid who I was talking to about how would we start trying to get this particular rescue dog to drop a ball. He said, ‘Well, you would kick it.’ I said, ‘Why would you do that?’ and he said, ‘Well, if I’ve got something and I don’t listen, my dad kicks me.’ At that point, you just go, well, that makes complete sense. Those courses were incredible for realising that we’re not all coming at it from the same place; we’re all coming at it from different angles.”
Buy a Kiddie Pool For Your to Keep Your Dog Busy. Does your dog enjoy the water? Keep your dog cool in the summer by using a plastic kiddie pool out in the yard. They’re inexpensive, too. I got ours for about 4 bucks at my local Meijer.
Glazebrook’s professional experiences have been complemented by a long line of beloved fostered and adopted dogs, from Henry, a mysterious Great Dane-Boxer mash -up found during the Dalston riots who eventually found a home in the country (“He took a bit of my heart with him”), to deaf bulldog Cookie. Cookie was the first dog Glazebrook and her husband got together, “our angel dog” who over 10 years saw them through the birth of their two children. The unbearably sad, but necessary, last chapter of the book on end of life, touches on the heart-rending decision to have Cookie put to sleep. “The loss is so huge. I think honestly it took about two years for me to be able to process.” After Cookie there was Fred, a 65kg rescue Great Dane, and Barnie, her parents’ “hilarious” bulldog, who was rehomed after being provoked into snapping at children in his previous home.
Americans love dogs! 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 million homes
Get Educated. The first step to being an outstanding pet owner, according to Dr. Becker, is taking responsibility. “Nobody ever says ‘I was a lousy pet owner.’ It’s always the pet’s fault.” Learn the peculiarities of your pet’s breed such as how much exercise they need, how gregarious they are, how much maintenance their coat requires, how often they need to go outside, and about new technologies, products, and nutrition that might help you care for your pet. Knowing the basics about your pet’s upkeep ensures you won’t be caught off guard by troubling behavior.
It’s a whole sequence of love, learning and loss that has helped shape her philosophy: if we’re unique, strange individuals, so are dogs. “With every dog you learn something new,” she says. Her husband must like dogs, I hazard? They have been together since they were 17 and his childhood spaniels also formed part of Glazebrook’s doggy education. “He loves them. He’d be absolutely screwed if he didn’t.”Now Pip, a smooth-coated rescue collie, shares their east London home (plus two kittens found in a freezer, and Walter the rescue tortoise). The decision to bring Pip into their lives perfectly illustrates what Glazebrook preaches most fervently – it’s vital to analyse and understand your circumstances before you choose a dog, rather than picking a breed you think looks cool, and ending up with a dog that is incompatible with your lifestyle, making everyone miserable. Some of the most intractably difficult and sad situations Glazebrook sees are where someone buys a working dog without being able to give it the hours of exercise and stimulation those breeds need. Sometimes in these cases there is no happy resolution possible. This is what she’d most like people to take away from the book. “Considering what you are going to bring into your life is your job. The dog can’t do it!”
Glazebrook’s son wanted a Labrador puppy, but her daughter, then aged five, is autistic and has sensory processing disorder and it was not the right time or set of circumstances to bring a puppy into the home. Of Pip she says: “As a visual, he’s not a dog I would necessarily be drawn to,” but she took her own advice. She recommends clients consider every dog on rescue websites, not just the ones that appeal instantly. After a long, careful search, Glazebrook met Pip. “I just knew straight away that he would be ideal and we could make him really happy.” After two years in surely the best home any dog could dream of, that’s apparent from his appearances on her Instagram stories. A gentle, slightly tentative-looking soul, Pip has blossomed and relaxed, learning to enjoy ripping up cardboard boxes in search of treats and becoming truly playful.
Make a dog-walking station for the entryway if you have more than one dog. See how this is done here.
Her focus on play is a shaming revelation for me. I did not really realise how vital it is, even for adult dogs. Beyond chucking balls or toys for Oscar to retrieve, we don’t play much. I feel sad realising how much he’s missed and can’t resist asking for a few tips. Glazebrook gets instantly caught up in working out a gentle play routine for my ball-obsessed old man who can’t manage the frenetic fetching he used to love. At one point, she folds her napkin to show me how to hide treats for him and recommends calming chews soft enough for his elderly teeth.
Celebrate Your Pet at Every Age. Everyone loves a new puppy or kitten, says Dr. Becker. “They’re wildly kinetic, and humorous. An older pet is thinner, bonier. Their coats aren’t as soft, they might have bad breath.” But, like people, a pet’s needs change with age. They may be less active, preferring a leisurely stroll to a rollicking tug-of-war. “Our old retriever, who’s blind, still wants to retrieve.” Adapting to their changing needs will ensure your old friend remains a healthy and happy member of your family.
Most animals are creatures of habit. It will be important to develop a consistent schedule to follow with your new pet. Potty breaks at regular intervals, feeding at the same time(s) every day, playtime, walks – everything needs to be scheduled. At first, this can seem overwhelming but soon enough, you and your new pet will be on the same schedule.
“I bet everyone does this,” I say, sheepishly. She nods: they do. Like any therapist, she’s had to get better at setting boundaries. Spending time under the skin of a dog-person relationship can be intense, whether it’s young offenders or A-listers. “You’re getting so involved in people’s lives… you’re invited into people’s homes. I love it, I’m quite nosy and always have been, and that’s a massive privilege, but equally it is a massive responsibility. And it comes with that feeling of offloading.”
Dog Got Stung? Remove the Stinger with a Credit Card. When you try to pick out a stinger from your dog you risk leaving part of it in the skin. Remove stingers by scraping them with a straight edge – like the side of a credit card.
Hopefully the book will help, but in our dog-obsessed, dog-confused age, I doubt Glazebrook will get a breather any time soon. Thankfully, I don’t think she minds much. “I just think there’s a wonder about them. The love they give you is incredible.”The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read by Louise Glazebrook is published by Orion at £14.99. Buy a copy for £13.04 at guardianbookshop.comStyling by Hope Lawrie; green dress from a selection to hire, Ghost at byrotation.com; trainers veja-store.com; red crepe dress Ganni at fenwick.co.uk; hair and makeup by Juliana Sergot using Bumble & Bumble and skincare by Dermalogica; shot at Holborn studio