As part of my CPD (continuing professional development) I like to keep up with what others are doing in the dog training world. I recently attended Craig Ogilvie’s Workshop on Interactive Play.
I was hoping this would be useful since I regularly deal with training clients who have issues with their dogs and play. Some run around with a toy and won’t bring it back, some bark madly when a toy is produced, and some, to their owner’s amazement don’t want to take hold of the toy at all!
I went into the workshop with my pre-conceived understanding of what toy play is; a part of the predatory sequence. So, was I right? Yes… but the focus also needs to be on the human side of the interaction. Craig summed this up as “The toy is the bridge between owner and dog”.
Even with the best knowledge of dogs it is not always easy to teach others. Craig however was not only knowledgeable but also personable and incredibly enthusiastic. He appreciated that dogs learn best when they are having fun and applied this to his human students too.
Some people can feel a bit silly being seen playing with their dog so it was a big ask to get participants to do this in front of an audience. Craig’s super-motivating style however seemed to get even the shyer participants running around as if no one else was in the room.
Most of the dogs at the workshop were larger breeds such as Labradors, Boxers, and Rottweilers but there were also mid-sized dogs like Border Collies, Bearded Collies, and Cocker Spaniels. At the smaller end of the range there was also a Jack Russell Terrier. Craig adapted each session to the specific needs of dog and owner and used appropriate equipment with each. The sessions with each dog where kept short since it was physically and mentally demanding for dogs and owners. Just like any training, little and often is best.
There is an old wives tale in the dog training world that the human should always “win” the toy during play. This seems to be a throwback to old-fashioned and discredited “dominance” theory. How much fun is it to play a game and never win? Craig emphasised that we need to let our dogs have some fun and so win the toy!
I left Craig’s workshop feeling really enthusiastic and ready to try to replicate some of that enthusiasm with my clients and their dogs.
I would highly recommend Craig’s workshop for dog enthusiasts as well as other professions in the dog world.
Craig also has a book out… though obviously it’s not as much fun as attending one of his workshops!
Mike Garner is a dog trainer and behaviourist in Brighton & Hove in Sussex.
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