The Richie’s Room Dog Trainer Interview – all you ever Wanted to Know about Ollie Tatton

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How well do we really know the people who help us to train our dogs and to manage any behavioural issues that they may have?

Do they use Positive Dog Training methods as advocated by the likes of Victoria Stilwell?

Or are they stuck in the past with the Dominance methods employed by Cesar Millan?

Do they drink tea or coffee?!

And where does their greatest challenge lie? I suspect that this probably sums it up:

I can train any dog in 5 minutes. It’s training the owner that takes longer.

Barbara Woodhouse

With that in mind, I thought that it may be interesting to find out a little more about some dog trainers and behaviourists.

Welcome to ‘The Richie’s Room dog trainer interview‘.

In this episode, we are going to meet the man who Harvey will lie in the hall waiting for – even though his arrival is hours away! It’s dog walker and dog trainer – Ollie Tatton.

Let’s get started …

Introducing – Ollie Tatton

dog trainer interview ollie tatton - ollie and thea with prizes
Ollie and Thea – agility success

Oliver “Ollie” Tatton is well known in the world of dog agility competitions, both as a trainer and a competitor.

In 2020 he took the decision to become a full-time dog trainer and hasn’t looked back since. Read on for some Ollie insights.

Getting to Know Ollie

This series of questions is designed to tell us a little more about Ollie other than his role with dogs.

1. What jobs have you done before becoming a dog trainer?

I’ve worked in fast food and in IT data analysis, although most of my “career” has been in my dedicating time to my various university degrees.

2. What is your favourite takeaway food?
dog trainer interview ollie tatton - pizza
Pizza (I couldn’t find any Nepalese food pics!)

Pizza… or Nepalese – depends on my mood!

3. In the 15 minutes of free time that you have available each week, what do you like to do? What hobbies do you enjoy?

What’s free time?

I like to run and keep fit when I can, but my partner and I both love exploring the countryside with the dogs.

4. What is your hot beverage of choice? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, something else?

Coffee.

Strong with a dash of milk and no sugar. Can’t start the day without one.

5. You’ve just won £100m!! The only catch, if you can call it a catch, is that you have to spend it all. How would you spend it?

Difficult…

Although in reality, I doubt I’d struggle to spend it all in a short amount of time.

I’d buy the ideal property – lots of land for the dogs and for training would be a must!

6. Tell us a little about your own pets.
dog trainer interview ollie tatton - thea and baylee and casino hilly scenery
Thea, Casino, and Baylee – outdoors

We have 3 dogs…

Thea is my Welsh Working Sheepdog. She’s 6 years old and was 5th in the world at the World Agility Open in 2019.

Baylee and Casino are Lucy’s (my partner).

Baylee is 8 and competed in the ABC Finals at Crufts – she’s a Bassett Hound cross Labrador.

Casino is a 2-year-old Miniature Poodle and is currently working her way up the agility progression system.

dog trainer interview ollie tatton - thea and baylee and casino
Thea, Casino, and Baylee – indoors
7. Hollywood has come knocking at your door and wants to make a film about you! Suspend your disbelief and tell us which actor you would choose to play you.

Tom Cruise

… only because he’s short and does his own stunts.

8. Which TV series do you currently enjoy watching?

This changes every week it seems!

We enjoy clever and gripping programs… Squid Game, Vigil, Liar, You, Doctor Foster… the list is endless!

9. Imagine that you could instantly learn any new skill (like Neo in The Matrix). What skill would you choose?

Honestly, for all my good cooking (I love to cook from scratch)… I’m a terrible dessert and pastry chef! It’d be nice to learn the intricacies of the dessert.

Ollie as a Dog Trainer

OK, this series of questions relate to Ollie’s role with dogs.

1. What lead you to become a dog trainer? Tell us your story!

I think it was a long time coming…

I’ve trained (and trained with) dogs since I was 13 and always wanted my own agility club.

Having taught and coached agility in my spare time for over 4 years already, in 2020 I took the plunge and went full time self-employed.

It’s been so perfect that I sometimes get annoyed I didn’t go for it earlier… although my part-time presence in the area was certainly invaluable in helping me go full-time.

2. How would you describe your approach to training?

Dog-centred training. Human-centred coaching.

In my opinion, too many dog trainers focus on one or the other. It’s super important that all the training is focused, directed and built around the individual dog, but it’s the handler that’s doing the work.

Give the handler the tools and understanding to teach their dog and success is all but guaranteed.

With behaviour and basic training, my philosophy is that I would prefer never to see a client again – in that they should leave my consultations with all the appropriate skills and tools to help their dog.

With agility (my passion), I split my time between culturing learning in the dog (this usually comes in the form of skills or connection – i.e. reading and understanding the handler) and teaching the handler all the nuances of agility handling; from course analysis to fitness and understanding their dog’s strengths and abilities.

More specifically, the vast amount of my training revolves around free choice (an underappreciated aspect to learning), fitness (a fit and healthy dog is a dog that is most able to learn and grow), shaping (the concept by which we reward progressively favourable free choices offered by the dog), and positive rewarding alongside negative marking.

Negative marking is the use of a verbal cue (such as “uh-oh”, “ah-ah”, or “oh dear”) that signals to the dog that their choice of behaviour was incorrect and encourages them to offer new or different behaviours. This is not to be conflated with a telling off – I explicitly avoid the word “no” for this reason.

3. In relation to dog training and behaviour, what training, experience, and qualifications do you have?

As most of my training is centred around agility training (of which there is no recognised training qualification), my experience comes from my extensive training of people and dogs (my own and clients’) and from competing and judging nationally and internationally.

As the majority of my lessons are usually focused on teaching and coaching people, I make use of a PGCE that gave me a significant understanding of learning theory, how to engage with learners, and how to best encourage learning.

4. If you could only teach one skill to an owner, what would it be and why?

The ability to stop anthropomorphising their dogs…

We can’t help but look at dogs (themselves and their behaviours) through the lens of human interaction and our social expectations.

Stop treating your dog like a person and acting under the pressure of social norms…

Look at the world from your dog’s perspective. Treat them like dogs and meet all their needs. Most of all, stop taking your dog’s “bad” behaviour personally.

5. What do you think is the most difficult skill to teach?

To dogs…

anything that doesn’t advance or link to natural behaviours. In agility, there’s nothing “normal” about weaving or doing a see-saw. When instincts aren’t involved, learning is difficult.

To handlers…

getting out of their human-centred mindset and looking at the world through the eyes of their dog.

6. Which trainer has had the most impact on your development as a trainer? (this can be in person, podcasts, video or a good old-fashioned book)

I’m going to deviate a little in this question and say, Wolfgang Köhler.

Not a trainer or behaviourist… But a German Behavioural Psychologist. He developed the Gestalt Theory of cognitive learning in the 1900s.

I love learning theory and the Gestalt Theory encourages people to consider wider experiences and development to help understand behaviour and learning.

In short, one should consider upbringing, previous experiences, the situation and all its stimuli. It’s the effort to consider all the small variables that add up to an emergent behaviour.

7. What is your favourite thing to teach?

Recall… and weaves.

8. Do you use video recordings during your training or behavioural sessions?
dog trainer interview ollie tatton - thea competing in agility
Thea doing agility

For some of my agility lessons, I do incorporate videos to help handlers with their homework.

9. Are there any lessons that you have learned during your time as a trainer that you feel may be valuable to somebody considering a career as a dog trainer?

Dogs are logical and humans aren’t.

Getting to grips with how to teach people to help their dog is a big challenge.

10. What do you enjoy most about being a dog trainer?

Honestly, it’s seeing such regular and life-changing progression and successes from my clients.

11. What do you think are the best ways for owners to bond with their dogs?
dog trainer interview ollie tatton - ollie and thea
Ollie with Thea – agility has strengthened their bond

Find something you can enjoy together.

It’s why I love agility, the bond will develop as you learn to understand each other and begin to work as a team.

12. What aspect of training do owners usually find most difficult? And how do you help them deal with this?

Touched on this earlier… but definitely getting out of their head and into their dog’s.

13. Where do you see your career with dogs heading? Do you have any plans or ambitions that you can share?

Hopefully, my business will continue to grow as it has done over the last 18 months.

My plan and ambition are to continue giving good and sound training advice in my effort to teach people to work with their dogs.

14. And finally, if you could travel back in time to the point when you began your dog training career – would you still do it? If not, why not? If so, is there anything that you would do differently?

Can I travel further back and go for it sooner rather than wasting my early 20’s working in fast food?!

Contacting Ollie

So, if having read Ollie’s answers you’d like to contact him, or follow him on social media, the details you need are as follows:

Acknowledgements

Featured image and pictures of Ollie, Thea, Baylee and Casino provided courtesy of Ollie Tatton

And …

Content images provided courtesy of Shutterbug75

The End

Richie's Room - Harv leaving
Time to go!

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26 thoughts on “The Richie’s Room Dog Trainer Interview – all you ever Wanted to Know about Ollie Tatton”

  1. Fab interview as always Richie! I love how you ask random non dog related questions at the beginning of these as it lets us into the trainers personality that bit more. I really like what Ollie said about dogs being logical, and humans not. I’m sure I’ve read another of your interviews where the trainer had said something similar. I can 100% imagine training people to be much harder work than training dogs!

    Claire
    http://www.clairemac.co.uk

    Reply
    • Thanks very much, Claire, your comment is greatly appreciated. Yes, I think having a non-training element to the interview helps to give a more rounded impression of the trainer.

      Reply
    • Hi Damion. Thanks for your comment – glad that you found the post interesting. So, what stopped you from becoming a trainer?

      Reply
  2. Mmm I love pizza too! I love this interview with Ollie, lots of interesting questions that show the training and non-training side of a trainer! Thank you for sharing Richie 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for your feedback, Eleanor. Who doesn’t love pizza?! Yes, there is a good mix of questions, I feel.

      Reply
    • Hi Rosie. Yep, dogs are dogs and humans are humans (although there are some dogs that I prefer to some humans! 🙂 )

      Reply
  3. Awww Baylee is CUTE! It’s so great hearing about others pets especially when they’re so passionate about them

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Alice. Yes, you can tell that Ollie is really passionate about his work and loves his dogs.

      Reply
  4. I love these interviews Richie. I answered all the first lot as I was reading – Anna Kendrick would play me in a movie and I’d travel with the 100m!
    I think my favourite response Ollie gave was that dogs are logical and humans aren’t.

    Reply
    • Hey Vourneen. Thanks very much for your comment – I’m really pleased that you are enjoying the interviews (and even coming up with your own answers! 🙂 ).

      Reply
  5. I loved this interview! Dog training always fascinates me, especially after we had a very negative experience with a dog trainer when we first got out border collie.

    I really like what Ollie said about getting into a dogs head and seeing things from their perspective, way too many people push human qualities onto dogs and I personally think this can be dangerous.

    Was also nice to find out about Ollie as a person and get to know a bit about his own agility background and previous work!

    Reply
    • Hi Nicci. I’m glad that you loved the interview. Sadly, in the dog training world, as in other areas of life, there are good practitioners and there are bad ones, so I’m not surprised by your experience with your Border Collie. I hope that you found a good one afterwards (like Ollie!).

      Reply
  6. I recently adopted a second dog. She is a five year-old Great Pyrenees and the biggest challenge so far has been helping her and my 11 year-old four-legged friend learn to get along. While I have never heard of agility training, so many of Ollie’s tips for training and reinforcement can be applied to many canine situations.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi Jaya. Well done you for adopting 🙂 Having 2 dogs can be a challenge initially but it’s only reasonable for there to be an adjustment period (circa 3 months) for both of them. Let me know if you have any major issues as I know a few behaviourists that could probably help with virtual consultations, if needed. I’m glad that you enjoyed the interview.

      Reply
  7. Great interview Richie! It was nice getting to know Ollie. It’s wonderful that he is chasing his passion and I wish him all the success in growing his business! (He’s also got great taste in TV!)

    Reply
  8. Ollie sounds like a great person and trainer – I love that he’s a cook as well, make sure he trains in baking & pastry!
    Another great interview, Richie, thank you for sharing it x

    Reply
    • Hi Simona. He’s a man of many talents, that’s for sure. Glad that you enjoyed the interview.

      Reply
  9. I have never heard of Ollie Tatton before but he sounds like he’s got an amazing personality.. This was a fantastic interview by the way. I love the mix in questions – the fact that you also asked non dog related questions. I don’t have a dog yet but will probably get one sometime in the future. I love the fact that he mentioned that dogs are dogs, not human and people should stop trying to make dogs humans. I think that is something that has to be said even more. This was a fun interview. Learnt some new stuff from this. Thank you for bringing Ollie on board.

    Reply
    • Hi Ruth. Thanks very much for your comment. Yes, we’re very lucky to have found Ollie – he’s great (and Harvey loves him!)

      Reply

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