At first I went along because I’d caught the ‘workshop bug’ and the topic sounded intriguing. I’d been told on a working dog holiday that I didn’t play with my dog. What do you mean, I thought, we train a lot and training is play. Besides, a Lab will never play like a Shepherd. My dog doesn’t even tug!
The truth was, I’d caught him tugging with a friend of mine… It was me he didn’t tug with. I had never encouraged it because of the old ‘keep ’em soft mouthed’ myth from the gundog world. There is, of course, a genetic predisposition to what a dog chooses to do when it picks up an object, but he hadn’t been a ‘deliverer’ when we first started gundog training. Now I’d try to interact over a toy and he’d just hand it over. Yes, we played rough and tumble without toys, but he was controlled and cautious, and I wouldn’t want him to be different when we play like that. Inspired by one of Susan Garrett’s programmes, I’d tried to build up to tugging, but he was hesitant and I lacked confidence.
My first interactive play workshop with Craig Ogilvie was the inspiration I needed. It helped me see my dog’s chase drive and learn that the game didn’t have to stop if my dog lost interest – what an eye-opener! – and how to prevent him losing interest in the first place. I returned home feeling positive about having made progress with my dog, and determined to host Craig’s workshops here in Surrey. Fast forward almost a whole year, and Craig has been our guest instructor more than once. He will be back. I’ve also attended some of his events hosted by others.
Here’s why I would take any opportunity for an interactive play workshop:
- We work just where we’re at and receive just the coaching we need, since everybody gets to have one-to-one time with Craig during the workshop. We’ve made progress since last time, hence this time we focus on something else.
- I grow as a handler. I gain confidence to push boundaries, many of which Craig pointed out weren’t there in the first place. I’m lucky to work with two dogs with different genetics, temperaments, drive, motivation and level of maturity. And of course it’s helpful to watch a variety of others in action with their dogs.
- Craig is a great coach. I feel positive and motivated after each workshop. I understand better the why, what and how. Of course Craig could easily get my dog to play with him. Have you ever struggled in a class and the trainer got hold of our dog and made it perform beautifully for them? It doesn’t help. Craig goes beyond that. He may give the dog a twirl to assess or demonstrate, but his work is about getting getting YOU to succeed with your dog.
- Craig is also a great speaker. Before his talk I doubted that he could match what he did in the practical workshops. But he did! His key note talk was enthusiastic, involved, entertaining and fun. It set the context beautifully for subsequent practical sessions.
- Last but not least, for those left gasping for air from the running around – it gets easier! I’m no fitter, but the more I understand the principles, the better I manage my physical energy. I’m even starting to have some spare brain power left to put in practice what Craig says to me.