The Power of Training Dogs with Food

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Author: Michael Ellis (Leerburg Enterprises)

Format: DVD

Running Time: 3 hrs 45mins

Release date: updated 2012

This is the first DVD in the Building Drive and Focus Series with Michael Ellis. This video was updated February 2012.

The foundation of Michael's dog training system lies in marker training. The power of Michael's system lies in how markers are applied within his training program. Unlike trainers who claim they can train every dog with 100% positive motivational methods, we know for a fact that corrections should have a place in any serious dog training program. They are required to guarantee reliability under distractions.

The beauty of Michael's system is that it establishes a method of communication with our dogs that is built on positive reinforcement. It is a communication system that is "black and white" to our dogs. This work builds a non-confrontational relationship with a dog. Because it is non-confrontational and based on positive reinforcement it is perfect for 8 week old puppies or 5 year old dominant and aggressive dogs. It's the perfect system to build or repair a relationship with a dog.

Our DVDs use untrained dogs and untrained handlers The first two DVDs in this series (the second is The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog) covers the foundation of Michael's training system.

Both of these DVDs were produced with untrained dogs. Unlike other training videos where the training shown is only demonstrated with a trained dog - we chose to only use untrained dogs and untrained handlers.

I edited the training to show Michael demonstrating his training concept and I then fill the DVD with with examples of both untrained dogs and handlers learning the system. There is no question in my mind that people learn more from watching others make mistakes and then learning how to fix those mistakes.

Chapters in this DVD

Review of Marker Training

What is a high value food reward?

What size should the food reward be and how this affects training?

How to hold and deliver the food reward.

Why using both hands to deliver a reward is a critical skill to learn.

Making drive with a food reward. How a food reward can be used like a toy to build drive.

The purpose of the leash in the foundation work of this system. During this foundation work leashes are not used to make or create behavior.

Charging the mark.

Training the lure. This is an important skill that most marker trainers misunderstand. There is a difference between charging the mark and training a dog to follow a lure. These are two different and very important parts of an effective marker training program.

Training sessions in which the goal is to reduce or eliminate environmental stressors. We explain how to separating work on training for environmental insecurities from training sessions that are designed to teach your dog behaviors and exercises. This is followed by an extensive chapter on "Engagement."


Trainers often talk about how to establish focus with a dog. Michael calls this work "engagement." He makes the point that the quickest way to teach a dog exercises is to first train a dog to get and stay engaged with his handler in every environment.

 The goal of this chapter in our DVD is to show you how to take your dog out into new and distracting environments and have a dog that ignores the distractions and maintains an attitude of "WHAT KIND OF FUN THINGS ARE WE GOING TO DO HERE TODAY?” When you can establish a relationship like this you have a dog that is ready to learn behaviours and exercises.

 Stop for a minute and think about that statement.

 If your dog is distracted, if your dog doesn't want to be where he is, how are you going to train him to do anything? That answer is you only have two options: you either back up your training and engage the dog; or you revert to old school yank and crank training.

During this chapter you will learn the difference between an "Active Dog" and a "Reactive Dog." You will learn why the goal in engagement training is to produce an ACTIVE DOG and how this will make training much easier.

How to pick a place to train where your dog can concentrate. This is an important part of the learning process.

How the rate of reinforcement affects focus and concentration.

How movement and animation are your friend when training engagement.

How to make rewards an “EVENT” as compared to just handing your dog a piece of food.

The correct way to do restrained recalls with markers and how they help build engagement.

What "muscle memory heeling" is and how to train it with puppies or older dogs.

The length of a training session affects motivation levels. We will explain how a trainer knows when to stop engagement training and move on to training exercises and behaviors.

This chapter also teaches the correct way to put focus on cue… with the “Watch or Look” command.

And finally, during the engagement portion of Michael's training system the dog learns the concept of learning – by that we mean he is “learning to learn.” This is a critical part of the foundation of all dog training.

Shaping Behaviors and Training Exercises

The final chapter is on the beginning of shaping behaviors and training exercises. In this extensive chapter we cover the process of teaching touch pads, and positions; sit, down, and stand.

 Touch pads are used when we train the jumps, they are used when we train the send away, and they are used when we train the object guard. They can also be used to promote stability in positions and many other exercises.

 The work can begin on very young puppies – you can do it when you are training the dog to follow a lure.

 There are good reasons to teach positions correctly. We will explain long term benefits of the dog learning to sit, down and stand Michael's way. Michael will explain why training positions in the order he recommends will have positive effects throughout the training career of your dog whether you are training a pet or a high level competition dog.

At the end of this DVD we explain the point where and why trainers should start to use toys as rewards in training.


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