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
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.
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.
Pizza… or Nepalese – depends on my mood!
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.
Strong with a dash of milk and no sugar. Can’t start the day without one.
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!
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.
… only because he’s short and does his own stunts.
This changes every week it seems!
We enjoy clever and gripping programs… Squid Game, Vigil, Liar, You, Doctor Foster… the list is endless!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
getting out of their human-centred mindset and looking at the world through the eyes of their dog.
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.
Recall… and weaves.
For some of my agility lessons, I do incorporate videos to help handlers with their homework.
Dogs are logical and humans aren’t.
Getting to grips with how to teach people to help their dog is a big challenge.
Honestly, it’s seeing such regular and life-changing progression and successes from my clients.
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.
Touched on this earlier… but definitely getting out of their head and into their dog’s.
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.
Can I travel further back and go for it sooner rather than wasting my early 20’s working in fast food?!
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:
- Website : https://insightdogs.co.uk/
- Email : email@example.com
- Telephone : Mobile : 07866 161 104 or 07846 433 267
- Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/InsightDogs/
- Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/insight_dogs/
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