Last month I attended a Craig Ogilvie workshop hosted by the Avon Working Trials Society. Craig is the only person in the U.K to be awarded a Mondioring Decoy license and has extensive knowledge training working dogs. He also has a book called the Interactive Play Guide.
The workshop was excellent, Craig’s enthusiasm is infectious. The content reminds me greatly of the play skills that David Ryan spoke about both in our podcast, his talks and his book “Stop!” How to Control Predatory Chasing in Dogs.
However whilst David focuses largely on the theory, Craig grabs a tug toy and gets chased around by German Shepherds to get his point across. Equally effective and highly entertaining!
I would strongly suggest attending one of Craig’s workshops if you get the chance. They really are great. Here’s 5 things I learned…
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Shout
Craig doesn’t just know how to motivate the dogs, his human-motivating skills were really masterful. Craig shouted encouragement and instructions with urgency in a very military-style that really helped get his message across.
People that would of otherwise played with their dogs in a slow, boring fashion were forced to run, move and engage with the same high-tempo as Craig. Of course it has the added effect of being highly humorous for the spectators… and that’s a good thing. We’re at the workshop to have fun as well as learn.
2) Move Your Legs and Keep Moving Your Legs
I don’t know if it’s laziness or just habit but Craig’s right. We hardly move when we play with our dogs. Dogs are predators, they want to chase stuff they don’t want to be stationary. How many rabbits or deer just stand still when they’re being chased? None that I’ve seen.
When Craig got people moving around you could see the dog’s interest and excitement levels raise as they chased after the toy.
3) The Best Toy For A Dog is Often Just a Dish Towel
Thousands of fancy toys to choose from and Craig’s fallback is just a small towel rolled up and taped together. Craig spoke about preventing dogs from developing bad habits like grabbing the wrong part of the toy and also making sure the toy was a good choice for the dog’s bite. When it comes down to it though often the humble DIY towel is the toy of choice.
4) Take Your Dog Up The Mountain… But Not All Of The Way.
If we’re playing with our dogs we need to keep it short and exciting. We need to stop before the dog starts to get tired or lose interest. By doing this we’re conditioning the dog… play is high tempo, it’s all out, it’s fun and we want to do more of it. There’s no need to do five or ten minute play sessions. Do really short sessions and do them often.
5) Make Your Dog Feel Big and Strong. He’s Only Little Mum!
He’s only a little 40 kilo Rottweiler Mum, you’ve got to make him feel big and strong! Another example of Craig’s humour. But it’s true, if the dog doesn’t feel like it’s effort tugging is being rewarded then he’s not going to bother.
You’ve got to let him win a bit, let him feel like his effort is going to be rewarded. Make your dog feel like a champion and he’ll become one. Make him feel like a weakling and he’s not going to play with you anymore.
Where You Can Find Craig: