How to teach IPO when dog is not food motivated? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-06-2018, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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How to teach IPO when dog is not food motivated?

I have a Czech/DDR GSD. He has always been chronically underweight due to having no interest in food, and believe me I have tried almost everything including raw. His weight has leveled off now, however training really does not work with food. His drive is for the ball/prey, not food. This is great for something like protection where the activity is it’s own reward, but I am having problems teaching tracking and fine tuning obedience. For those activities you don’t want to use a ball as it will distract from the task at hand. How can I overcome this?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-06-2018, 04:33 PM
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You really need to join a club and get a trainer. You have many resources in you area, including Dave Kroyer. Start there.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-06-2018, 06:10 PM
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food drive can diminish with stress, or heat and humidity. You might need to take baby steps, work during cooler hours, etc. Having a good club can help with things like position of rewards and timing. Those things alone can make a difference.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-06-2018, 06:39 PM
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There are successful SchH/IPO handlers that trained tracking with a ball. They would bury the balls along the track as a reward instead of using food. Some of the early dogs were not trained with food, but by tracking for a reward at the end of the track. Takes longer and you will always deal with speed, but there are ways to do it.


Obedience can also be done with toys, but it is much harder to get the precision needed for high points.



If you are on FB, there are a lot of groups on there that can answer questions, but finding a club (and I realized you asked about that earlier) would be the most ideal situation.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-06-2018, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Emmat View Post
I have a Czech/DDR GSD. He has always been chronically underweight due to having no interest in food, and believe me I have tried almost everything including raw. His weight has leveled off now, however training really does not work with food. His drive is for the ball/prey, not food. This is great for something like protection where the activity is it’s own reward, but I am having problems teaching tracking and fine tuning obedience. For those activities you don’t want to use a ball as it will distract from the task at hand. How can I overcome this?
For a dog with high ball drive, a ball works great for obedience, Even for the "fine tuning." All of my dogs have super high ball drive and I use a ball to train all of them in obedience. My current working dog is off the charts with toy, prey and hunt drive. Absolutely insane for a toy. I got him as an older dog and it took 2 months to get a toy from him with out getting bit. You simply teach the dog impulse control, how to earn the reward in obedience and how to contain itself or "cap." Even high drive, possessive and aggressive dogs can learn how to contain themselves and earn their toy. I will say that lots of patience are needed.

With the tracking there are several ways to get a dog with low food drive to track. You can use a higher value reward, i.e. hot dogs over kibble. You can lay tracks and the dog gets his whole meal on the track. If he misses food or doesn't eat, oh well. Start over the next day. Track the dog for 10 days straight and every meal is found on the track. Your dog will not starve, also no treats or food at home. This is also takes patience.

If your dog just lifts his head when tracking, than the design of your track and food placement needs to be re evaluated and changed. Remember, the dog knows how to track. We can not teach a dog to track. What we can do is design training tracks that teach the dog to track in the style and method that we want. It's all about how you design, bait and run your tracks. Tracking is easy, don't get all wrapped around the axle about it.

How old is this dog?
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-07-2018, 07:45 AM
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We have not started tracking, however what Slamdunc said about the food is spot on. The dog will not starve himself. If he realizes the only way to get his food is to play your game, he will play your game. It does take patience, but it should build his food drive.


There were a few times where I just had to walk away from Katsu without giving her breakfast because she would refuse to do what I asked (this wasn't a case of not knowing either, we've worked on it before). When I would try again later, she definitely put in the effort.


I too would recommend finding a trainer/club to help you.


I didn't see the comment about him being chronically underweight. I would be careful, but still try the NILIF route.


With the ball, it sounds like his drive goes through the roof. You will need to work him through that so he knows he can't just ignore you because his favorite thing ever is nearby. Try a few sessions with the ball where you attempt to fine tune, if he doesn't get it, say "oops!" or "oh well" and put him away (crate, etc). Wait a few minutes (5?) and try again. He should realize he needs to listen to get what he wants. Still will require patience.

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Last edited by Katsugsd; 08-07-2018 at 07:52 AM. Reason: adding to text
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