Meet Frank, the British bulldog. His owner, Louise Grant, bought him on a whim one rainy weekend nearly two years ago but has discovered that just like becoming an accidental parent, he is a lot more work than she imagined.

Until this summer Frank was a happy and mischievous 28kg (and still growing) puppy. Despite his fearsome look, he is actually shy around strangers and would prefer to squeeze himself under a cafe table than allow dog-loving passers-by to pat him.

But all that changed when Frank went to Waiheke Island to spend the summer. Louise rented a house and the plan was to commute to work in the city four days a week so she and Frank could enjoy romping on the beach, having friends to stay and generally enjoying a marvellous summer.

Except it didn't work out that way.

Frank was unsettled. Everything was unfamiliar; ferry rides, a strange house, scary sounds, lots of people.

He became snappy and irritable with Louise's friends, and when he would normally easily interact with other dogs on the beach, he was getting angry and unpredictable.

Within a few weeks Louise couldn't trust him off the leash any more. So she marched him off to therapy.

Two sessions for $450 - that should do the trick.

Now, meet Carole Ellis, the "dog listener" - we won't call her a dog whisperer as American television pet therapist Cesar Millan owns the rights to that brand.

Carole and her husband Rob run Pets in the City, a doggy day spa and boarding kennels and cattery in Mt Wellington. They have been breeding and working with dogs for more than 35 years and are now qualified dog listeners through the UK's Jan Fennell, who, much like Millan, has made her name and television fame teaching owners how to "speak dog".

Carole says she can help Louise understand what's going on in Frank's head.

"I have a passion for dogs and for owners to have a dog who is totally relaxed. I don't like stressed dogs," she says.

Dealing with delinquent dogs who jump up, constantly bark, pull on their lead, whine and cry when their owner is away is easily solvable, she says.

But first, the owner has to understand what they have done to cause this behaviour. In fact Frank's two two-hour therapy sessions are more about giving Louise advice on how to correct her behaviour than his.

In a nutshell, Carole explains how a cute puppy goes from dependent and adorable to aggressive and annoying.

When they're born their mother teaches them discipline and manners. But at 6 or 8 weeks' old they are taken from their mother and those boundaries fly right out of the window.

Who can resist a puppy, right? He is picked up and cuddled whenever he wants, allowed to sleep on the bed, played with and given a lot more attention than his canine mother would ever bother with.

Some owners go so far as to replace his bowl of food if doesn't like it because he's just so cute, the little darling can have something else.

Within a week or two he is feeling worshipped and pretty important. He gets his way and the humans obey him. He is the alpha in the house. But he also takes his responsibilities seriously. As alpha, he is their protector.

And therein lies the rub. It's stressful having to look after humans all day.

In Frank's case, his unfamiliar surroundings meant he wasn't easily able to be boss. He's top dog and Louise is his puppy, says Carole.

Therefore when lots of strangers are around or noises frighten him through the fence, he has to be constantly on guard.

Frank's behaviour is not unusual and speaking to Louise two weeks after therapy, the results appear dramatic. "I loved my dog too much and treated him like my baby," she says with a new clarity about her parenting techniques.

Since Carole trained Louise on how to change the balance of power and relieve Frank of the unwitting burden of having to look after her, he is much more relaxed.

"He's so much happier," Louise says. "He lies down on the ferry instead of standing on guard, he's a lot more relaxed, walks better on the lead and spends more time lying on his side. Dogs only lie on their side when they're relaxed."

Of course, he stills wants Louise's attention and will still try to eat her shoes, but she doesn't have to shout any more, much to the relief of Waiheke Island residents.

"Each dog has its own personality," says Carole "But I don't buy into people saying 'my dog is naughty'. They learn from humans. Dogs can't have a good life while they have to look after the humans."

And at that moment Jack and Jill, brother and sister shih tzus, arrive to stay at Pets in the City, and Carole leaps up to welcome them with a big cuddle.

Most common issues

* Barking
* Jumping up
* Constantly interrupting when friends are over
* Demanding attention
* Separation anxiety