The star of new TV show Dogs Behaving Badly nearly lost the full use of his hand after once being bitten by an aggressive German shepherd – but it did not make him want to quit.
Graeme Hall, otherwise known as The Dogfather, is a dog-trainer with more than 10 years of experience and has worked with more than 4,400 dogs.
He will showcase his skills by coaching several unruly hounds – and their owners – in the new Channel 4 documentary, including two particularly naughty dogs he said could have “killed each other”.
Despite being hospitalised by one of his furry clients, Graeme was never tempted to stop working with animals and accepts that being attacked is always a possibility, although the experience left him scared for a while.
Graeme told the Press Association: “The most challenging one I’ve worked with, it’s fair to say, is the dog that put me in hospital.
“If you do this work, sooner or later you’re going to have an accident. I don’t do big ego-driven things that cause dogs to be aggressive, it’s not my style and it’s not big or clever, but occasionally you’re going get a dog that reacts badly despite your best efforts.
“This was a German shepherd dog, and I went to the house – the dog had been there for about a week, and they had no knowledge about his previous life because he’d been rehomed.
“As soon as they let me into the house, he went for me and bit my hand.”
Graeme said he stood “no chance” against the pet. He was forced to go to hospital to undergo surgery and was kept in overnight.
He said: “What we discovered is that the dog had nicked the edge of one of the nerves, so I nearly lost the full use of that hand.”
Graeme, who has worked with celebrity dog-owner Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix, said the ordeal caused him to be afraid for a while afterwards but that he had to face his fears pretty quickly.
“Just a few days after that incident, I was still recuperating, doing a few easy jobs, when a call came in saying, ‘we’ve got an aggressive German shepherd, can you help?’” he said.
“And the Dogfather motto is ‘any dog, any age, any problem’ … So I had to go back out and see that aggressive German shepherd.”
Dogs Behaving Badly, which airs the same weekend as long-running dog show Crufts, sees Graeme have to solve some of the underlying issues with a handful of dogs across the country.
He said two dogs in the programme will stun viewers because “they were really fighting”.
Of the Westie and Bulldog, he said: “Give them half the chance, I think they would have killed each other. It was certainly handbags at dawn.
“They couldn’t even be on the same storey of the house. They really went at it.”
Dogs Behaving Badly airs on Channel 4 at 6.05pm on Saturday.