This interview was conducted in April 2016 by Evan Harbalis – Von Ultimate Kennels (VUK)
VUK: Tell us about yourself.
RADDOG: I am 33 years old and I live in a town called Opava, in Czech Republic. I am married and I have one son. I am the owner/ founder of Raddog Dog Training Equipment.
VUK: How long has Raddog Company been in operation?
RADDOG: Raddog Company has been in operation since the year of 2013.
VUK: How did you get into equipment manufacturing?
RADDOG: I worked for another company then I made the decision to go out on my own because I knew how to make the products independently and thought this was the right time and the best direction for me to take.
VUK: How long have you been making sleeves?
RADDOG: I have been making sleeves for 15 years now.
VUK: Where did you first learn the technique of making sleeves?
RADDOG: I learnt how to make sleeves from my previous company I worked with. I started there, I learnt everything except how to sew. To make a sleeve there is a lot of work involved, to cut, fold, glue and then to sew it. At the beginning I did not know how to sew but slowly I learnt how to sew the sleeve and now I know how to make a sleeve from the start, right to the end.
VUK: What are some of your most popular selling sleeve?
VUK: What do you believe makes a good sleeve?
RADDOG: Everyone has a different opinion of a good sleeve, some people want a loose sleeve and others want a tight fitting sleeve. When I put on a sleeve I like to feel as one, me and the sleeve. I think a good sleeve is when you don’t need to think of how it fits, how it sits, it has to feel as we are one.
VUK: Who does all of your prototype testing before they are released on the market?
RADDOG: I do my own testing first because I am a helper and then when I believe the sleeve is fitting well, I give them to other helpers to test. Each one critiques what they think about each sleeve and I am open to all ideas. I believe feedback is the key to success.
VUK: Is Raddog currently working on any new prototypes?
RADDOG: The Raddog C4 Shark Sleeve is the latest release for 2016.
VUK: How long have you been a trial helper?
RADDOG: I have been a trial helper for approximately 17 years and trial helper for international events for 10 years now. I was the helper twice at the FMBB both times in Czech. The first time in 2009 in Roudnice and in 2015 in Písek. I have also been a trial helper for the FCI’s in Czech Republic and countless times of qualification trials and national events in multiple countries.
VUK: What interested you to do helper work?
RADDOG: The adrenaline, the activity I got working with the dogs, I liked it a lot and that’s what first attracted me to do helper work.
VUK: What are some of the mistakes you see trial helpers make?
RADDOG: The most serious mistakes I see that trial helpers make is they feed the sleeve and expose the sleeve too much, this is the most common mistake. The other mistakes I see is they hide it or they move the sleeve too much and the dog is not able to get a full bite. Also another serious mistake I see is on the re-attack on the dog I see helpers going back instead of forward and if they go forward they feed the sleeve to the dog.
VUK: What makes a good trial helper?
RADDOG: A good trial helper has to have good strength, be in good condition and be flexible. The helper must be able to read and understand the dog and be able to switch from dog to dog because every dog is different. You cannot make mistakes at big events and you must be correct in everything you do. The helper at all big events has to always push and work on himself by advancing within himself, a good helper cannot do one event and say that they were good, you need to learn and progress every time.
VUK: In IPO routine, in the protection phase, there are two elements that everyone watches for, the bark and hold and the courage test. OK first, in the bark and hold, as a trial helper what do you like? What do you look for in the courage test?
RADDOG: Yes, that is correct, I prefer the dog in the bark and hold to show the helper his strong presence by barking. You see a lot of dogs that come in fast and hit hard on the courage test but when they come in for a bark and hold they don’t show strong intensity It’s better if the dog shows strong guarding, strong barking, good intensity, momentum and to intimidate the helper and have hard and full grips. These days it’s not a problem to teach the rest of the exercises but you cannot teach a strong bark and hold because that comes from within.
VUK: What advice would you give to somebody wanting to become a trial helper?
RADDOG: The advice I can give to somebody that wants to become a trial helper is you have to want to do this from the heart. From a young age I had a very strong passion about dogs and I wanted to work with dogs. When I first tried bite work I loved it, when the dog bites, the gripping, the pulling, and the adrenaline rush. A trial helper must have passion to work and want to learn because it’s not just about doing helper work at big events and that’s the end of it, it has to come from the heart and have passion for the work. If someone is interested to do helper work first they should work the dog on a leash in the beginning and learn how to position and move the sleeve, how to read the dog and then start the running exercises slowly, but the most important is that they must want to do it from the heart to be a good helper.
VUK: Thank you Radek for taking the time for this interview
RADDOG: It’s been a real pleasure Evan and thank you.