By Karen Carruth Last year, maybe March time, our family was infiltrated by a small, extremely cute, terrier pup.

The honeymoon was short lived, and within a month the dog was ruling the roost. Gone to chase cows in the sky, our biddable, obedient, collie had passed away just weeks before, and rather naively, even though we have been dog owners all our life, we assumed that life would continue as before. Before Roo, that is, (that’s what we called him).
So to cut a painful story short, after one year of invariably chasing him around the streets, wrestling with him to get the kid’s prized possessions out his mouth, unlocking his jaw off the children’s trousers, we decided we had to take action – because it could be a long 15 years if we didn’t kill him before he lived a full life.
Puppy classes hadn’t worked, ignoring his bad behaviour hadn’t worked, and the treats only worked until you had no more left, then you were on your own, left shouting after a brown dot as he haired off into the distance.
So I called for reinforcements in the form of a dog behaviourist, Jim Fraser, Drymen, Stirlingshire. He calls himself The Scottish Dog Whisperer. Before he came, I thought, “He will meet his match with this dog”, but looking back that’s quite a hilarious thought.
When Jim came to visit our house to assess the terrorist, there was only one man in  charge, and it wasn’t little Roo.
Armed with a tennis racket, which boasted a few puncture wounds from previous pack leader wannabes, he uses it to protect his legs from any clients who get toothy - within a few minutes, the message had been received loud and clear to Roo that this was someone he should be listening to, without a word being exchanged between him and the dog.
Frankly, it began to look like we had been exaggerating his bad behaviour, as presently he was obediently staring into Jim’s eyes waiting for his next command.
No treats, no speaking, just his body language being clearly understood. It is dog psychology in its purest form as far as I could see.
We practised what he advised us to do, listened when he talked about eyeballing the dog and why that can be a red rag for bad behaviour. We then went out to the garden to learn how to walk the dog properly.
With the dog by your side or behind, but never in front; it became obvious very quickly that actually the root of all these problems was the mixed messages we were sending the dog, and that he quite rightly assumed he was top dog, as no one else seemed to be filling the position.
Jim, who is a straight-backed, fit, man, began to tell us a little of his background, and how he discovered he had this natural ability with dogs and horses.
His young life was troubled, being placed into foster care during the war, but during that time if there was a dog wherever he was sent, it wasn’t long before it was following him around and sleeping on his bed at night.
His first real training partner was Eda, a fat collie pup he claimed when he was a young man. At that time he could get sixpence for a rabbit, so he watched Eda while she pointed out to him where he should stand at one exit to the burrow, and she would dig down at the other exit, and one of them would get the prize.
That was how he started to ‘read’ dogs, as he could see that she was showing him where to go.
Also he used her when putting the hens in at night, there was 12 acres to cover, so he taught Eda to round them up, even though he knew he would get a row for using the dog with the hens.
He trained up another dog, and a visitor to the poultry farm where he lived, commented on the dog’s ability, and asked was it for sale. He offered ten bob, but Jim was not for moving. Eventually he got a couple of pounds for it; after that, any chance he got to train a dog up, he did, and the sales kept coming.
By that time, he worked as a farrier for Duncan Sinclair, Blane Smiddy, Killearn, and he would visit lots of farms where invariably there were collie pups around.
There were always dogs around the smiddy, and he was picking up signs from the dogs all the time. At that time people were very heavy handed when training their dogs. He says he always made friends with the dog, and when it was following him about, he would start commanding it.
Geordie Campbell, of Croy Cunningham, was a great dog man and he took Jim under his wing, gave him advice while watching him working with dogs. Jim would go up to Geordie’s farm and work the dogs with his sheep, until they were ready to sell on.
Of course, this eventually led to him running at sheepdog trials. Ringo was the first dog he took along, a red collie, and Fintry trial was the destination.
Having watched the runners before him not do so well, Jim decided he wasn’t even going in. But Jimmy McColl and John Brownlie who were friends and knew his ability, lifted him by the belt and the back of the neck and shoved him into the field. The dog was ready and off he went. A respectable third gave him the trialling bug.
Jim also took to training German Shepherds, joining one of the first security firms in Scotland which trained guard dogs for companies. Eventually, he became head of obedience at the British Alsation Training Club in Glasgow, and was invited to compete at Crufts, coming fifth in the challenge certificate class.
I ask if it matters which breed it is, when he is training them. “Not really, they all have the same rules. They want to be the leader, and if you have an aggressive breed and it takes the boss role, then you have trouble. They are manipulative, far more than we give them credit for. And it is important that you can read the signs.
“Some owners wonder why their dog won’t listen to them. It’s all about respect. Once they start giving you respect, it is like an open book. If you train with titbits you only get ‘cupboard love’! I train the mind, not the stomach. You have to be the pack leader, particularly if you have a strong-willed dog.
“The start of all my client’s problems nearly always begin in the house, people are not instilling any rules, so the dog doesn’t have any boundaries.”
Working with body language seems to work equally well with horses, and Jim, being a farrier and also an assistant instructor, was always around horses.
He worked for a time in the Vet School’s equine unit, training horses and bringing them back to fitness as part of a fitness research project. He was also a show jumper of some note, showing working hunters and show hunters, and found that horses, like dogs, were drawn to him.
He applies the same rules with horses, he expects respect, doesn’t tolerate bad manners – he does stress that you have to show respect to an animal before you get it reciprocated.
“It’s the same thought process,” says Jim, “You don’t let your dog barge in when you are putting their food out, and the horses are the same.”
Nowadays, after having run dog behaviour classes in his area for many years, he now does one to one consultations with clients who are having problems with their problem pooches.
I go to visit Jim at his home in Drymen, to finish our interview, and I took Roo along with me. As Jim calmly controlled five dogs in his field, showing some impressive obedience moves, my terrorist is having a flaky at the car window.
Eventually he gets his turn, and as usual his normal behaviour when he spots a dog is full on hysteria. Jim brings one of his collies out and asks him to ‘stay’, which he does indefinitely. And within a few minutes, he has Roo walking calmly by the collie without a word having been spoken.  A firm correction on the lead, at the right time (which is all important), and off they trot together.
Now a few weeks after having met Jim, our dog is showing signs that he may live past his second birthday.
He now waits until you go out the door, then he follows, and does the same when coming back in. He goes to his bed when he is told, and waits until he is told otherwise.
He is still a tenacious terrier, and still tries to push our buttons. And he still tries to leg it out the garden when he sees the outline of a dog walking past the hedge.
But he is a work in progress, and we both feel that we now have the tools to deal with him, and hopefully create the relationship that we hoped for when he arrived as a tiny bundle. It was worth every penny!

 If you have problems with your dog, and would like Jim’s help, you can contact him through his website at, or telephone on 01360 660491.