I saw Craig Ogilivie speak last weekend at the IMDT Conference. Craig has a massive amount of experience in bite work in various sports and as such is a master at getting the best out of your dog with tug games.
Logan loves to tug but becomes highly aroused in the process. I have been doing all the stuff I have previously learned with him regarding tugging and have brought him a long way in the last 6 months. On hearing Craig speak, in his hugely energetic and enthusiastic input, I realised there was loads I was missing with my game and took his advice. He kindly offered me loads of good tips to implement which I have put into effect. I’ve just finished our first “new” tug session with Logan and we both got on really well. Loads of much calmer play, he seemed to be enjoying it, his arousal levels didn’t rise to the insane heights they have previously and he was able to come down much more quickly at the end of the session.
When we first started working together, the play sessions would get out of hand quickly as his arousal levels rose. I had to limit play to keep his arousal low, but in limiting it I wasn’t satisfying his need for play so frustration kicked in and his arousal rose again. A fine balancing act. At the end of the session, he would chew through the lead, jump up and grab the toy out of my hand or grab at the pocket where the toys were kept. He wouldn’t ever take food during these sessions. He would then have to carry the toy back to the house or car, wouldn’t get in the car without it and then wouldn’t give it up. He would also pull the toys apart (he can bite a black Kong in half). This became an expensive habit. I know I am borrowed time with most of the strategies I have been using.
So after today, I feel I have much more understanding of how to raise and lower his arousal under control. No room for complacency as I have fallen foul of that in the past when I thought I had figured him out.
Let’s see what happens next time.
Craig’s website. He regulary has workshops across the country so have a look to see if there is one in your area. It is time and money well invested.