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Food, Frogs and Cookies

Rugby’s obedience match review brought about a discussion on the use of food in training. I thought that this discussion should not be left to hide in the comments to this blog since the questions and answers it will bring about is indeed a very interesting one.

For years trainers have been going back and forth on the correct way to train a dog, the pros and cons of the different methods. I will not address this topic here.

I would like to dedicate this post however to listing the experiences I have had training dogs that supports my decision to use the Koehler method (and the Bedrock Method developed by my trainer – Margot Woods) since it goes further than the few titles Rugby has earned.

Since I began working at Applewood’s Dog Training in the summer of 2008, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of dogs.

  • I have trained and titled a Lab in obedience (a CD… I will be bringing him in the ring again this summer to get the CDX). Pete earned his CD in three straight trials in one weekend.
  • I am currently working with a Golden in obedience (for the CD and she will earn this title before the end of summer).
  • I have trained and titled Rugby who not only has qualified every single show he has entered, but has also never been in the ring without earning a first or second place. He will have his UD before the end of the year.

Beyond competitive obedience, board-and-train includes sit, down, stand, stay, place, come, heel, and miscellaneous manners work. It also requires that the dog be trained to a level of competency that they will work for multiple handlers and the training will be reliable once they are handed over to their green/novice owners. I have successfully completed board-and-trains on the following dogs.

  • Zed, an Australian Shepherd
  • Duke, a Doberman Pinscher
  • Rosie, a Jack Russel Terrier
  • Rosie (again), a Dobe Mix

ALL of the dogs listed above have been trained without the use of any food rewards. ALL of the dogs above are happy, enthusiastic workers.

I would also like to introduce to you some dogs past and present that have also been trained void of any food rewards.

First and most interesting is my trainers Chows. After much digging, we were able to find the above photos of Applewoods Ximena UD. The first picture was taken before she earned her UD, and was in The World of Chow Chow book. The third picture is of her, Margot and Bill Koehler himself. The last picture is her practicing fronts with Margot.

Second are some pretty famous hounds, owned by Paula McCollum. You may have seen Jeb in the AKC Gazette or Family Dog Magazines. If you didn’t catch him there, he was also on the cover of Front and Finish with his podium NOI picture. Both he and Suzie have been featured in Front and Finish. These pictures are both of Jeb working. Very impressive alphabet soup he and Suzie have on their name’s huh?!

OTCH UUD Smokin’ Bullet Jebediah Blue UDX3 VER Bh (NAPWDA Cadaver/SAR Area/Obed)
OTCH UCDX Daugherty’s Blazin Blue Suzie UDX4 OM2 Bh (NAPWDA Obed/Tracking/Area)

You can go see more at Paula’s Blog or on Jeb’s Facebook Page.

I mean, if this isn’t a happy, steady, reliable working dog then I don’t know what is!

I guess my point is that it is working for us… and for a bunch of other people too. The decision was not made on a whim to be cookie free.

PS- There is now a frog living in Margot’s goldfish pond. :p
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