The Dogfather Graeme Hall Reveals 'Probably The Biggest Mistake People Make' When Training Dogs

The celebrity dog trainer, author and podcaster opens up about coming down under to help Aussie dog owners.

Based on the popular UK series of the same name, Graeme Hall -- aka The Dogfather -- has come down under to star in an Aussie version of Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.

Travelling across the country, Graeme's mission is to not just rehab problem pooches but to teach families how to understand their dogs' behaviours and work with them to get the best outcome for both them and their best friend.

But he wasn't always in the business of barking, as Graehem told 10 Play. After graduating from Uni with a degree in Hispanic Studies (he still speaks fluent Spanish), he went on to work at Weetabix Limited.

"I always joke to people [in the UK] that I made your breakfast for 20-odd years," Graeme told 10 Play, laughing.

After two decades in the manufacturing industry, running factories, he was presented with an opportunity to become a management consultant. But with two Rottweilers at home, Axel and Gordon, he decided to take three months off before starting the new job to immerse himself in the world of dog training.

"I just thought, look, these dogs have got a bit of a bad reputation as a breed, unfairly I would add, but people are going to judge them," he explained. "They've got to be immaculate... so I learned everything I could."

Joining a dog training club a few times a week, Graeme became 'obsessed' with learning everything he could about training dogs, and at the end of his three-month break the head trainer told him to consider dog training as a profession. Shocked at the suggestion, Graeme asked why.

"He said something that literally changed my life. [He said], 'Because you're good with people', I didn't see that coming... there are lots of people who are good with dogs, but not necessarily also good with people.

"Here's the thing, you can only change the dogs through their people," Graeme continued. "You see that now on Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, it's very much about the people."

Starting his website TheDogfather, Graeme said he never thought anyone would remember his name but he thought the moniker was catchy enough. "It's kind of funny and there's a hint there, we don't have to be deadly serious, we can get the job done and still have a bit of a laugh."

As his business grew, so too did his notoriety until one day producers came knocking and pitched the UK version of Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, which has now spawned an Aussie series.

Like the original, the Aussie version sees Graeme travel across the country meeting families who have particular issues with their pup -- from incessant barking to fears of shiny floors. Showing owners tips and tricks on how to identify the causes of these behaviours, and how to properly train them, adding that it ultimately all comes down to balance.

"There are two extremes, aren't there, the old-fashioned way of doing things was all about dominating and by dominating what most people meant was bullying them into submission. I'm absolutely not about doing that," he explained.

"I think what works best, and what's always worked best for me anyways, is a bit of balance. There are times when we all do something that we shouldn’t do, we cross the line, and there’s got to be a consequence. It’s got to feel unpleasant, but that’s in an appropriate way," Graeme said, adding that it could simply be a facial expression and the tone used when saying, "Really?"

"There are other times though when you absolutely need to be rewarding the good behaviour. This is probably the biggest mistake people make," he added, "they forget to reward the good bit because we take it for granted."

Similarly, Graeme explained that often human behaviour can be at the root of an issue and that one of the greatest issues dogs can face is their owners overcomplicating things.

"Often I go into a house, and you see it on the program, where it’s just like ah I see what you’re doing wrong here. I can see why you’ve made this mistake, it’s perfectly understandable, however, you’ve royally messed this up."

Throughout the series, Graeme meets dogs and their owners, sees the patterns of behaviour and how the responses from the owners, and can almost instantly identify the underlying issue as if by magic.

"I'm not a magician, only in the sense that stage magicians aren't either! They do a trick and it's all very logical and can be explained," he said, smiling. "You could do it too if you knew the secret.

"I'm the kind of stage magician that does the 'magic thing', breaks it down and gets you to do it as well," he continued. "The beautiful thing about dogs is they just react to what you do at any given moment."

Having worked across the UK, and now visiting dog owners across Australia, Graeme said that by and large dogs and people are pretty much the same, but noted one big difference between people in the UK and here.

"In Australia, the defining phrase that I heard from people, it’s not all the things that Brits think Aussies say -- all the old-fashioned stuff like ‘fair dinkum mate', it’s actually this.

"I would say to somebody, right this is the problem this is what I think we need to do. Almost every single Australian said, oh yeah mate, I’ll give it a go! I’ll give it a go. That, to me, is the quintessential Australian phrase.

"It’s a country full of people who gave it a go, and I love that."

Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly Australia premieres on Thursday, July 20, at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play