I recently joined a schutzhund club with my adult dog and some of the members have suggested I withhold food from my dog to get him to focus more on me. Where does this kind of training cross the line? I don’t want to starve my dog! I need some advice.
I recently joined a Schutzhund club with my dog. Although I love the sport, some members have recently suggested withholding food from him except for out of my hand and he works for it. They feel he needs work on his ?focus.? My concern is that he?s a 90-lb. dog, and the most I?ve been able to hand feed him doesn?t even come close to what he eats a day. One of the other members has a dog he?s been doing this with for about 2 months and the dog looks like a Holocaust victim. I?m not finding any of your DVDs recommending this near-starvation and need some guidance. I suppose it?s an ethical question: When does this type of training cross the line? In any other context than Schutzhund, this is called animal abuse, and I simply won?t starve my dog. In talking to members, they just shrug and say this has a place in training, but I?m somewhat disillusioned. I joined because my dog is a happy, high-energy ?working? dog who needed an outlet for all his energy and it was fun for both of us. This is not what I expected and need some advice. Thank you!
I think if something doesn’t feel right to you when it comes to training then you should acknowledge that and look for alternative possibilities. I have access to a number of training groups in my area but if the core training philosophy is something I can't agree with for my own dog, I won't train there.
Some people are willing to push aside their values and beliefs just to belong to a group and I've never been one of those people. It doesn't matter to me whether the methods used are acceptable to the rest of the world, if it doesn't sit well with me I simply walk away
There is nothing wrong with manipulating a dog’s food to get more desire to work for you, but that's different from starvation. When I have a puppy, they may very well get all their daily meals during training (which means I may train 5 times a day for short sessions) Usually my older dogs are transferred to a toy after they are done teething and then it's easy to keep their focus with play.
I do think you could learn how to use food more dynamically as well, so the reward becomes more of an event. I see that you have the heeling video by Michael Ellis, but the 3 videos I am going to list below are the cornerstone of the whole system.