The James Bond Dog Expert – Mrs. Woodhouse
Mrs. Barbara Woodhouse was the most famous dog trainer in the world in the 1980s.
Her dog Juno was a Great Dane, nicknamed ‘Take One Juno’ because it only took the Director one take, to get her to pass muster. Woodhouse’s dogs worked with an early James Bond star – Roger Moore – but also Clark Gable, Sir Alec Guinness and Eric Morecambe.
Her ‘choke chain’ (chain collars, tugged tightly as a reprimand) have gone out of favour, but her other techniques – notably using her voice – are still influencing trainers today.
So can the legacy of the legendary Woodhouse help your puppy or dog? Do the tips and tricks of the Eighties still work? A surprisingly high number of TV trainers still use them today. Here’s what you (and your dog) need to know.
Barbara Woodhouse and Octopussy
Clad in tweeds and with a strict approach to dogs, Mrs. Woodhouse was referenced by Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy. Seen on Sixty Minutes. Respected by even the worst-behaved canine.
She was even the subject of a song by The Barron Knights
Barbara Woodhouse and Penelope Keith
Barbara Woodhouse had a roadshow on the BBC and was profiled by Penelope Keith, with her idea, Rugs for Cows – years before dogs made her famous all over the world. (The BBC rejected the first idea).
No matter if you are taking your dog on holiday or just having a long holiday at home, her ideas still work today.
No Bad Dogs
She believed that there is no such thing as a bad dog but simply inadequate owners who did not assert their position in the pecking order of dog society. She treated dogs as part of a power pyramid, or hierarchy, with you (or her) at the top.
In the syndicated shows she often used just two commands: “walkies” and “sit”. It was really her technique with dogs who jump up on people (bad), pull on the lead (bad) and rip things up when left alone (very bad) that won her fans and imitators, though.
Tough Love and Love by Mrs. Woodhouse
The A-Z of Dogs and Puppies self-published by her in 1970 was still in print by 1981. The Barbara Woodhouse method was a mixture of tough love and love.
From The A-Z of Dogs and Puppies: Barbara’s Wisdom
“I clap when a dog does right – I have to, I feel so happy.”
On punishment for puppy biting
‘If it doesn’t stop, shake it by catching hold of its neck on both sides under the ears by the loose skin and make it look you straight in the face. If you sound angry enough the puppy will quickly understand.”
On kissing dogs
“I always do it behind their ears, with their faces cupped in my hands.”
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Published in 1992, the advice from Barbara Woodhouse includes:
What to Feed a Dog Over Six Months Old
Two meals a day, with half a pound of meat (about a cup) and a cup of kibble or biscuits and a saucer of milk.
Dogs Behaving Very Badly – Graeme Hall
The Dogfather Graeme Hall is the United Kingdom’s ‘best dog trainer’ according to The Daily Telegraph. Graeme uses voice technique, as Barbara Woodhouse did. He takes on any case – even severe cases – and has nearly lost a hand doing it.
His psychological techniques are about 100 years old ‘though largely forgotten’ and he has amazing results, with some recognisable Woodhouse strategies.
Graeme Hall has given a Ted talk on training people as well – with dog-training techniques – which could be useful if you have bad people in your life as well as bad dogs.
About The Dogfather
His Ted talk introduces him as a dog-free person until the age of 40. He had a degree in Spanish, moved to the corporate world and learned that dogs and people “aren’t that different.”
Dog-training was a Sunday morning hobby and then The Dogfather switched.
Tone of voice, volume and even facial expression are used to stop dogs doing everything from barking at the phone, and running around in circles – to biting. This is his website The Dog Father and this is his motto – “Any dog, any age, any problem” Graeme says.
He trains grown men who are bossed about, by their dogs, to use their voices, body language and attitude to take the lead. Like Barbara Woodhouse he is loud, enthusiastic and expressive.
What’s My Dog Thinking?
What’s My Dog Thinking? by Hannah Molloy (Dorling Kindersley) is well-known for Puppy School (Channel Four) and updates the original Barbara Woodhouse dog sense for the Twenties.
Molloy suggests –
Letting your dog sniff every fourth ‘stop and sniff’ spot on a walk and allow 2-5 minutes of deep sniffing. Sniffing on a walk for a dog, is like us checking Twitter, according to Molloy.
Dogs Jumping Up
Twist your body away. Say hello without using your hands. Throw treats on the floor when you come home to teach him/her to keep all four paws on the floor.
Know Your Dog’s Breed Group
They need two hours of problem solving every day (like managing a ball). Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog.
Independent, like a wolf. Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Shiba Indu
The lowest frustration tolerance of any breed. Intense, noisy.
Jack Russell Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Airedale Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Border Terrier.
Praise-seeking, boundless energy for woods, water, long grass.
Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever.
Rottweiler, Mastiff and Dobermann breeds are loyal and suspicious of anything or anybody new. Brave and want control.
Hunters who want to find their treasure.
Beagles, Basset Hounds, Whippets, Greyhounds.
They enjoy human contact and attention and were bred as companions or lapdogs.
French Bulldog, Pug, Toy Poodle
Tips and Tricks From Hannah Molloy
Don’t hang out with dogs if you don’t need to! Some dogs are happy to live life without dog friends.
If your dog won’t come back, even though he/she used to – walk or run away to get your dog interested in what you are doing. Train at home with great treats, like chicken, fish or beef. Use a 10-metre lead at the park. It may not be the dog’s fault. If his/her nose is ‘on’ they cannot hear you.
Pulling on the lead is best solved, not with a choke chain (which Barbara Woodhouse used) but with a harness. A harness protects the neck and thus its entire system. Use treats to teach your dog to walk by your side. Stop, wait and restart. Do this consistently even if it takes one month.
Battersea Dogs and Cats’ Home
Did you know the world-famous Battersea Dogs and Cats’ Home now offers at-home Zoom tuition? Watch their free class here, How to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Lead. They suggest a harness.
Here is another class on how to get your dog to come back when called:
And finally, a class on handling the crying, barking or destructive dog who is left home alone. Separation Anxiety!
Cesar Millan and Mrs. Woodhouse
Mr. Millan needs no introduction as the world’s most popular dog trainer. Like Barbara Woodhouse in her time, he counts television stars as friends and clients. (Though not, as yet, Daniel Craig as James Bond).
Here he is with Jerry Seinfeld, his friend, as part of his series, Cesar 911
The Dogs’ Trust
Finally, in Barbara Woodhouse’s home turf – the heart of London and the English countryside – The Dogs’ Trust charity has apparently inherited many of her lessons and updated them for modern dog-owners.
She was the James Bond favourite who influenced several generations of dog trainers, stars and animal charities – and perhaps it’s time your pet was helped by Mrs. Woodhouse’s legacy.
How to Get Your Dog to Come Back
How to Stop Your Dog Pulling on the Lead