We recently visited expert dog trainer, shepherd, artist, illustrator and retired vicar Graeme Sims. (www.graemesims.com ) His latest book is The Dog Whisperer How to Train Your Dog Using its Own Language, which allows readers to access Graeme’s gentle but effective dog training methods.
The book also contains many examples of encounters Graeme has had with dogs, and offers countless insights into the canine mind. In over twenty years of living and working with his Border Collies Graeme has built up a wealth of experience and knowledge.
When asked what the secret of good training is, Graeme has an intriguing answer, “Love them so much that they can’t resist you; that’s the secret.” He obviously applies this approach with his own dogs. The affection between them is evident from spending even a short time with them. Their eyes are directed towards him, they are eager to interact with him, and they are as fawning with him as any Spaniel.
Training can be stressful – for both human and dog! However, stress is the enemy of effective training, because as Graeme points out, dogs are excellent readers of body language and can detect our mood immediately.
I have been doing some extra training with my dog Buddy recently, and it has been wonderful to see him switch into training mode, focusing and trying to understand what is asked of him. Even more wonderful are those “light bulb” moments when he understands the request and complies.
He seems to have enjoyed the training, and always displays a keenness to participate in sessions. For my part I have tried to reflect his enthusiasm, and remain patient even when things don’t go right.
I am only trying to control one dog, but Graeme Sims can work up to nine Border Collies simultaneously. To add to that achievement, he directs each one in a language specific to that dog, one in Welsh, one in German and so on. He and his dogs are clearly fluent in another language – love, which is an international one.