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Categories: Schutzhund , Training With Food

Q. 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!

A. 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.

The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog
Advanced Concepts in Motivation

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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The Power of Playing Tug w/ Your Dog
The Power of Playing Tug w/ Your Dog
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This is another DVD that is done with Michael Ellis. It teaches trainers in a step by step manner how to use a toy as a reward in training your dog. It teaches dogs to OUT when asked and to bring the toy back when its released and it is all done with motivational methods.

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Advanced Concepts in Motivation w/ Michael Ellis
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This is the latest in Leerburgs series of training videos done with Michael Ellis. It is a training video that follows Michaels curriculum for his course on Motivation and Play at his school for dog trainers in California. The work in this DVD (or video on demand) teaches trainers of all breeds (large and small) and trainers from every dog sport (agility, obedience, and protection sports) the advanced concepts of how to motivate their dogs. The goal of this training is to teach dog trainers how to turn a reward into an event for their dog. When trainers can learn these skills they are going to be able to manipulate the motivation and drive of their dogs.

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The Power of Training Dogs w/ Food feat. Michael Ellis
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We are pleased to announce the release of a new and updated version of The Power of Training Dogs with Food. This new video was filmed entirely in HD. We did not use any of the video footage from the original DVD. In addition, the new DVD was produced from a totally new training outline and layout.

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Training a Competition Tracking Dog
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This tracking dog DVD was filmed over a 3 year period in Germany and America back in the 1990s. It is one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on sport tracking (foot step tracking). This video only uses motivational methods to teach a dog to track. While we discuss the difference between motivational tracking and forced tracking, we do not teach any force in this video.

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Focused Heeling w/ Michael Ellis
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This training DVD deals with thr Michael Ellis system of training competition dogs to heel using marker training (operant conditioning). Dogs trained in this system enjoy training and love to work. The Michael system uses very few corrections, it is truly revolutionary.

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20% off Select Michael Ellis and Ed Frawley DVDs, streams, and courses good through Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 11:59 PM CT