When he was growing up Jimmy Allen wasn’t allowed a dog, so he would volunteer to walk his neighbours’ pet pooches instead.
Then his uncle got a Japanese Akita and he would dog-sit for him.
When he was 18, Jimmy got a four-month-old rescue pup, a Belgian Malinois named Narla, from Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home.
But Narla was so aggressive towards other people Jimmy was forced to give her up after six months, after receiving an ultimatum from his dad who he was living with at the time, and she ended up with a new owner who wanted her as a guard dog.
“Dad said ‘you need to get rid of the dog’ and I paid a lot of money for a dog trainer,” Jimmy recalled.
“The dog trainer said ‘you can’t do anything with her’ so I lived in my car with her for a week.
“Five people visited her and she bit every person.
“But I’m very grateful for what my dad did.”
Jimmy, 30, says that tough ultimatum from his dad set him on the path to becoming a dog trainer because he realised that he had been doing everything wrong.
“I used to let her sleep with me and gave her steaks for dinner,” he explained.
“I loved her to death but dogs need rules, boundaries and discipline.”
Following his experience with Narla Jimmy watched and studied the reality show The Dog Whisperer, featuring dog trainer Cesar Millan’s work with problem dogs.
Before the show Cesar rehabilitated severely aggressive dogs and founded the Dog Psychology Center rehab complex.
Inspired by his work in rehabilitating and saving dogs from being put down, Jimmy has since trained and worked with Cesar in America.
After building up a large following through word of mouth and social media, Jimmy quit his job as a glass factory operator last year and is now working as a full-time dog trainer with Dog Pawfection balanced dog training.
Balanced dog training rewards positive behaviour and corrects behaviour that must be stopped.
“At first I’d do it on my days off and people would give me crates of beer as a thank you,” he said.
His clients have included The Real Housewives of Cheshire stars Dawn Ward, who he says has been a great support to him, Tanya Bardsley and Seema Malhotra and former Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley, whose sausage dog Geoff was taught to leave his crate on command.
He trained Dawn’s dog Dolly, dubbed ‘the naughtiest dog in Cheshire’, and within 10 minutes he taught her daughter Darby’s pup, Jeremy Jackson, to walk confidently on a lead.
Jimmy now has Skye, an eight-year-old South African Boerboel; Junior, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois and Zion, a seven-month-old Cane Corso.
The dogs go to work with him to help with his training – Skye and Junior were both rescue dogs, Zion his first puppy in years.
Jimmy says Skye was by far the most difficult dog he’s ever worked with and was thought to be ‘too far gone’ when he adopted her because she was insistent on fighting with other dogs.
With a surge in people welcoming dogs into their homes during lockdown, Jimmy is now urging people to think carefully about the right type of breed for them and to be prepared to put the time in.
“Dog training is like going to the gym,” he said.
“Going to the gym never ends. You need consistency.
“Instead of scrolling through your phone spend five or 10 minutes training your dog.
“It’s also about setting rules and boundaries.
“Show affection if they do something wrong and it means you want more of that behaviour.
“Make sure you get the dog that’s right for you and do your research into that breed.
“If your idea of fun is going up a mountain then get a dog that needs a lot of exercise.”