Farmer Dave Graham grew up on a Queensland cattle station with dozens of working dogs by his side.  Life has come full circle for Farmer Dave…from working the land in rural Australia to an international modelling career, to the Big Brother house, Dancing with the Stars and running the Australian Canine Sports & Training Centre (ACS&TC) with his dog, Matilda. (Note: Farmer Dave and Matilda now run Farmer Dave Dog Training)

Who’s the Boss? finds out what Farmer Dave has learned from the dogs in his life, Matilda’s top 5 tips for city dogs;  and who really is the boss at the ACS&TC.

Who’s the Boss?  Have dogs always be a part of your life?

Farmer Dave: I grew up on a massive Queensland cattle station, the youngest of 11 children, with a fair gap between myself and the other kids, so the farm dogs became my sole playmates. We would have dozens and dozens of working dogs on the property at any one time, so I was always on adventures in the bush with any of the dogs that weren’t on the job that day.

I received my first dog ‘Elsa’ from legendary stockman Malcolm McTaggart when I was about 4 or 5. Elsa taught me so much about life in the bush, also what to fear and how to care for her pups. I have never been without dogs since she was taken from me by a snake bite whilst protecting me and one of her pups whilst we were out on a bush adventure.

Who’s the Boss? Has life come full circle?

Farmer Dave: Yeah I certainly have had a fairly full life at only 34.  I count my blessings that I have been able to experience so much that the world has to offer.  My first job as a kid was to look after the dogs, probably just to keep me out of busy station life’s dangers, but in fact they took care of me and taught me so much about life, be it their work ethics of droving 2000 head of cattle down a stock route, counselling me through the sad times of having to slaughter drought-stricken sheep, or how to be happy every single day, no matter how you are treated or what you have had thrown at you.

“in fact they took care of me and taught me so much about life”

I founded the Australian Canine Sports & Training Centre to both give back to dogs for all they have given me but also to allow humans to feel that incredible bond achievable through working and training together. There is a sport and activity for every single human and every single type of dog,  where they focus on the greatness of the bond they share and dog’s inner star.

Farmer Dave's dog, Matilda

Farmer Dave’s dog, Matilda

Who’s the Boss? Matilda is the cutest team member of (ACS&TC).  What is her job description?

Farmer Dave: Ha ha yes she certainly is the cutest member of the team. I was working in the USA for the Oprah Winfrey Network and I had a call from a dear friend who told me she had found the pup I’d been looking for.  It just felt right when I finally met the little bundle of border collie kelpie cross. Other than being a major TV star Matilda is our number one Behaviour Teaching dog, which involves her being an integral part of our introduction, assessment and rehabilitation programmes. As head of our important team of behaviour teaching dogs Matilda gets free reign of the Centre, and really does an incredible job of managing each of the yards of dogs.

Who’s the Boss?  What are Matilda’s tips for city dogs?

Farmer Dave: The 5 top tips for city dogs from Matilda would be:

  1. Get socialised
  2. Get a great education
  3. Ignore all the bad stuff and focus on the good
  4. Find a great job or get into a dog sport, it’s fun to learn with humans
  5. There is a hidden magic button on the ground, try and press it as often as possible with your butt.

All dogs can do anything…’s just positive reinforcement, time and patience that’s required.