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Main > Withholding Food to train (19 replies)

by lotsofdogs2 on 23 February 2009 - 01:02

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Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 01:08 am
Hi everyone,
I have a training question.  I have a 21mo old male that I sent to a well respected kennel for Schutzhund training.  After 16days I visited my dog and found that he was severly dehydrated, had lost over 20lbs and had acid burns on his testicles from lying in his urine.  I immediately took him to the vet and didn't return him to the facility.  I was told later that the trainer couldn't get him to work for him so he made him go without food and water for days because he believed that he would accept him as alpha and work for him once he offered him food again.  I think I showed up unexpectedly during the starving phase.  I'd like to know if withholding food is common practice for trainers working with uncooperative dogs.  Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,

by KatK9 on 23 February 2009 - 01:02

Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:36 am
You did the right thing in removing your dog, that is animal cruelty and would sue the socalled trainer.
Witholding food to this extend is cruel, has nothing to do with training and sounds like they don't care about the dog period, if the kennels aren't clean either.
I personally do not withhold food for training, they might skip breakfast if i want to go tracking, but usually they eat on the track or get a brunch afterwards.
I would call the police on this guy!

by Two Moons on 23 February 2009 - 01:02

Posts: 15866
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 07:21 pm
I have witheld food in favor of visiting often with small amounts in hand to win over a dog but never withold food in this manner.
It sounds like the dog was not cared for well at all.
Just move on, don't feel shy about telling the guy he's an idiot.

by lotsofdogs2 on 23 February 2009 - 03:02

Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 01:08 am
I'm trying to decide if I should pursue criminal charges against him.  I paid him $800 up front and wrote him a letter asking for a refund, which he has failed to do.  What bothers me is that this is common practice for him from what  I've been told and he trains dogs for police departments in NC, VA, and many other states.  My vet says that I'm doing an injustice to the other dogs there to not pursue this criminally.   Maybe, this isn't like him, and I pursue him criminally and damage someone's livelihood that did something out of his norm.  I am a Cane Corso breeder and am not very familiar with the Malinois trainers.  That's why I'm here looking for advice.  If I post his name and this isn't like him would people tell me that?
Thanks, Jennifer

by hexe on 23 February 2009 - 03:02

Posts: 3152
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2003 02:31 am
Withholding food is one thing--even over the course of a few days, the dog is not going to starve in that time frame.  Withholding *water*, however, is life-threatening and illegal in any state that has humane laws on the books.

by stormhasit on 23 February 2009 - 05:02

Posts: 63
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 02:33 am
I've heard of withholding a meal prior to the training time - but NOT to the extent the dog would loose weight!!!!  As for withhold water - that is WRONG!!! 
I would follow the vet's suggestion here and file on him! 

Be grateful that you got your dog out before any more damage was done.  Now do right by the dog...

by Kelly M Shaw on 23 February 2009 - 15:02

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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 07:09 pm
I would go after him for animal cruelty. I have not fed my dog's the night before training but that is it. They were never without water and they never lost any weight doing this b/c it was only the night before training that they wouldn't eat.  I would definately pursue criminal charges on him for this and I'm sure your vet will back you up in court as he has seen your dog. I hope your dog is doing much better now? I'm so sorry you ran into this person and were trusting him.

by malshep on 23 February 2009 - 16:02

Posts: 1942
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:11 am
The trainer does not understand how cruel this is, just because their father may have done it does not make it right. they need to be turned in.

by spernagsds on 23 February 2009 - 17:02

Posts: 361
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2007 04:10 pm
I too have withheld a meal before training however I have NEVER heard of withholding water for any reason.  The length of time for this poor dog to have gone without food and water to be in that condition is ridiculous.  I am sorry you have had this terrible experience.  Best wishes and i hope your dog is doing better.

Shannan  :)

by tiffae89 on 23 February 2009 - 17:02

Posts: 501
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 06:55 pm
I've heard of withholding food for the day before, at tops.... Withholding water is cruel and unjust period.... I would press charges!

How is he now that you have gotten him back?

by Schluterton on 23 February 2009 - 18:02

Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 08:13 pm
Neverming that it's cruel .............. all of our organs (including our brains) require nutrients to function.  How does a dog that's been deprived for days learn anything?    He can't even think and yet he's supposed to determine some kind of pack order and learn something.    It's not only cruel ............ but totally counter productive.   What a moron.   Turn him in for bring cruel and stupid.

by Christopher Smith on 23 February 2009 - 18:02

Posts: 521
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 12:26 pm

Does anyone here see the difference between withholding food and starving?

by cledford on 23 February 2009 - 19:02

Posts: 378
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 06:00 am


I'm wondering a bit about this post, as a "well respected kennel" is referenced - but no names mentioned.  While it might be considered "good form" to not mention direct names, I'm a little concerned by someone coming here with such an alarming story, with minimal details and a post count of 1.  Jennifer, while I'm not discounting your story, I could see a potential for those opposed to the sport, protection training, or the breeding of dogs to discredit the process (schutzhund) which has produced the most versatile utility dog ever known to humankind.

For this reason, would you be willing to PM the kennel name or provide additional details of your dog?  Such as full name, breeders name, etc?  Why did you send the dog out to be titled?  Were you intending to breed or show it? Did you train or do foundation work before sending your dog off?

You have received a number of honest answers here and I think it would be reasonable to provide further details to validate your experience.  I assume this would make sense to you, in that if you were willing to send your dog out to be titled you must see value in the process and would not want to see it possibly discredited.

FWIW, I would consider what you described as criminal animal abuse and would require anyone (as a civic duty) to report the situation to the authorities.  (why did you choose not to?) There is no call for starving a dog to train it for schutzhund or any other thing.  Furthermore, i can't imagine a "trainer" who felt it ncessary to stave a dog being able successfully title anything, so they are a scammer as well.  So by outing the fraud it only cleans up the ranks of the people who truly believe in the sport and the betterment it provides to the breed.

As others state, I will withhold AM breakfast until after AM tracking - which would mean my dog might eat an hour later than normal and the entire meal (same amount as given on a bowl) would be fed, although it may (in part or whole) be placed on the track as opposed to a bowl.

Hope this helps,


by lotsofdogs2 on 24 February 2009 - 01:02

Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 01:08 am
Hi Calvin,
I completely understand your skepticism regarding my post.  I didn't name names in the beginning because I wasn't sure if the Malinois/ German Shepherd world trained differently than the Cane Corso world.  As I said before I'm a cane corso breeder and have limited experience with Schutzhund trainers other than those immediately surronding Wilmington, NC, where I live.  The Trainers name is Buddy Lawson and he trains under the name Canine Enterprise and Cardinal Hill Kennel.  His kennel is in Mocksville, NC.    Mondo weighed approx. 125lbs the week before he was left at Mr. Lawson's and the day I picked him up he weighed 99lbs at the vet.  His last weight was Friday and he weighed 126lbs.  He was with Mr. Lawson from 12/8/08 thru 12/23/08.  The vet did bloodwork and stool samples to rule out bacterial enteritis or parasites that might have explained his dramatic weight loss. Here are pics of Mondo,
i  before   app.125               day after with a bath 99lbs  
                                        Jan 20 118lbs 

by cledford on 24 February 2009 - 02:02

Posts: 378
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 06:00 am
Wow, i'm sorry again for your bad experience.  I hope your dog gets well soon. 


by Adi Ibrahimbegovic on 24 February 2009 - 03:02

Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Jul 16, 2008 08:25 am
"I wasn't sure if the Malinois/ German Shepherd world trained differently than the Cane Corso world. "

A dog is a dog. You train a Cane Corso, as you would train a poodle, german shepherd, a mailnois or a mutt or any other dog with small deviations in training because each dog is an ondividual, not because of the breed.

What he was doing is starving the dog, not "witholding" anything. Some people use fasting, once or twice a month by witholding food for a day, with plenty of water to drink at all times.

If you were to go tracking, you can skip breakfast at its usual time and either:
1) give the whole thing to the dog ON THE TRACK
2) put some on the track and feed the rest shortly afterwards.

That's witholding, what he was doing was not it.

Food is different than water. There is no reason in the world whatsoever to not give the dog fresh water AT ALL TIMES. Any other way is either bordering on, or is outward abuse.

Get a different trainer and stick with your vet.

by Kelly M Shaw on 24 February 2009 - 15:02

Posts: 1208
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 07:09 pm
That is a major weight loss for a Cane Corso, or any dog for that matter. I hope you are able to go after this person so he doesn't do this to anyone else's dog's. I'm sure your dog isn't the first either so I would try to check around to see if you can get anyone else to back you up in court.  Your boy is gorgeous, and I hope he is on the mend!!! I love that breed myself along with of course the GSD, and the Beauceron.

by 4pack on 24 February 2009 - 15:02

Posts: 5602
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 04:35 am
Wow, this isn't withholding food, it's neglect. Clean kennels and water have nothing to do with withholding food. Anything more than 2-3 days without food is rediculous as well. I hope you keep on this guy, like white on rice and let us know his name, so no one else makes the same mistake.

by Kelly M Shaw on 24 February 2009 - 15:02

Posts: 1208
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 07:09 pm
4pack she did mention his name. Here it is again, "The Trainers name is Buddy Lawson and he trains under the name Canine Enterprise and Cardinal Hill Kennel.  His kennel is in Mocksville, NC".

by Schluterton on 24 February 2009 - 15:02

Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2005 08:13 pm
Quote:    Does anyone here see the difference between withholding food and starving?

Well  to me 24 hours is withholding food.    48 hours would be extreme withholding food (I wouldn't do it, but would still consider it withholding food)   and 72 hours or more is starving and I stick by my belief that at that point dogs will fail to learn anything.

And this is from a girl that feeds raw and fasts her dogs every 10 days or so.

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