Food Training

From Katie Herbers, (

With my own dogs, I now ONLY use food! (and encourage it with my students) I almost never make any kind of correction, voice or collar. My micro-pinch AND my chain slip collars now only collect dust. The only collar I use for any kind of work is a rolled leather buckle collar. In fact, I now RARELY use a leash! (it just gets in the way). I HIGHLY recommend Patty Ruzzo's training tapes. She is a food trainer par excellant! The tapes are hard to watch, they are homemade videos of a full seminar, put on one tape, then copied. They are about 5 hours+ long. WELL WORTH IT!!!! I even flew a young dog with *major* distraction problem out to CT (I live in Vegas) for a private lesson with her.

The trick with food is to use LOTS of LITTLE bits. As small as the dog will accept. For shelties, a turkey hot dog, sliced to about the thickness of a penny, then cut into quarters is about right. And use what the dog likes! Be it kibble, roll-over, hot dogs, cheerios (dogs love em!), raisins, frozen veggies, you get the picture. Save the really good food for the problem areas. A lot of people feed their dogs their normal kibble ration while training. Don't be afraid to give your dog several bits for ONE good anything! Dogs don't know SIZE of a treat, but they understand LOTS! ("wow! I got THREE bites for that sit???? Hey, I can do that!") Patty's favorite saying (at least that I remember) is "put a cookie on it if you have a problem!" Works wonders!

Shelties are soft, sensitive dogs, very much in tune with their humans, they don't NEED a lot of corrections! Just show them what you want, they will do it! Much praise and treats, ANYTIME the dog does what you want, will only increase the dog's desire to please! Harsh corrections only serve to discourage the dog and confuse him. I have found that some of my best corrections have been NO REACTION AT ALL! Just stop, no talking, no nothing, and start all over. Dogs HATE that! Let your dog learn that a mistake does NOT mean a harsh correction, that it is ok to be wrong and let THEM figure out what you want! And as inventive as shelties can be, they will offer you all kinds of new behaviors trying to get the cookie!


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