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May 22, 2011 by pippalou
Posted in category: Dogs
Over the years, I've had several dogs, and it seems like each time I start to train a new dog, I find a new way to train.  Or perhaps I should say I find new techniques to expand and refine the training knowledge I already have.

Training without Treats
I used to be dead set against training with treats.  Scout, my heeler mix was trained entirely without treats,and she learned quickly and obeyed quite well.  But Scout has never been one of those dogs who is absolutely mad about food, and she responds very well to praise.  At that time, I followed the guidelines of a movie dog trainer named William Kohler.  I knew someone who had successfully trained a rather boisterous Lab with this method, and it worked well with Scout.

The Food Hound
Then, about a year ago, I got Pippa, my red heeler.  Pippa is a food hound.  Prior to learning the command Leave it, anything edible dropped on the floor was Pippa's. by virtue of her ability to pounce and consume with blinding speed.  If you sat on the sofa and had a snack, she'd practically crawl into your lap to get a bite, her eyes riveted to the food.

When I started training with her, I could see she was going to be rather a tough case.  Stubborn does not begin to describe it.  Whatever, it was, she was not going to do it, at least not without a fight.  It could only be detrimental to Pippa's training, my peace of mind and our relationship to try to force or fight her into obedience, so I thought a change might be in order.

A Different Style of Training
At the time I got Pippa, I had been following a new training method I had discovered at a site called Leerburg.com, run by a trainer named Ed Frawley and his wife.  They specialize in training protection dogs, and their dogs are amazing.  They recently started working with another protection dog trainer named Michael Ellis, who runs a school for dog trainers in California.  Michael is superb.  His teaching methods are excellent and his dogs are incredible!  If you'd like to see Michael in action with one of his dogs, check out this video http://leerburg.com/flix/videodesc.php?id=723

Training with Treats
The basis of the training promoted by Ed Frawley and Michael Ellis is the use of treats, or as they sometimes put it, 'high value food rewards.'  So, in view of my difficulties with training Pippa, I decided to put aside my longtime prejudice against the treat training method, and I studied the articles and videos available through Leerburg's website.

And lo and behold, my food hound, Pippa, suddenly couldn't wait for training every day.  Using the treat training methods of Michael Ellis, she learned faster than any dog I've ever trained, and I've since weaned her from treats to a toy.  She will run the agility course with speed and enthusiasm, with the only reward at the end being her racquetball.

Years ago, I would have said that the way I trained Scout was the best way, but I've learned that not every dog is going to respond the same way to a given training method.  I don't think you can generalize and say that any particular training method will work exactly the same with all dogs.  They're all different and have different motivations.

Scout's motivation was simply  to please me.  Pippa is happy to please me, as long as she gets something out of it herself!                                                                                                                             \

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