Luring a Dog Behavior

Luring a dog behavior is a dog training technique to get your pet to do something, without having to push him around or use a leash. This method is highly effective to teach dogs basic commands in just a few minutes.

Luring a dog behavior is the best technique for beginners because your pet will happily follow you. It doesn't require a lot of skill, although some practice will improve your efficiency.

This method was popularized by renowned dog trainer Dr. Ian Dunbar and is one of the best positive techniques to train a family pet dog. It is even easy enough for most kids to try with their canine friend.

Once you become comfortable using this dog training method move on to something more advance, like Capturing and Shaping. These will give your more flexibility to train advance behaviors.

How to use Luring?

luring a dog behavior
  1. Grab a piece of Yummy dog treat.
  2. Show it to your furry friend (which means put it right under his nose!)
  3. Then without letting go of the treat, but letting your pooch lick it a little bit...move your hand slowly around.
  4. When you get the behavior you wanted, Mark and Treat!!

Note that even though you are using a treat as both a lure and a reward, a lure is used to produce a behavior but a reward is used to reinforce the behavior. A reward is given after the behavior is done!

Did your dog follow your hand? Good!

Now you can move your hand around and make your pet do different things. Try a few!

  • Sit: move the treat up towards your dog's eyes, very slowly. You will notice that he will sit as his head goes up (and his bottom goes down). Yes! mark and treat! He deserves it!
  • Down: Start with the dog sitting. Move the treat down to the floor, slowly. your pooch will follow the treat down and might just plop down all the way. Yes! mark and treat! He deserves it!

Important Tip!

Luring a dog behavior is a basic method to start training your pet.

Luring a dog behavior should only be used the first 3-5 times you start training a new command. After that, switch to Capturing or use a hand signal or verbal cue to elicit the behavior.

Dogs are opportunists. What does that mean?

It means good news for you!

It means that they will eat pretty much anything they can and when they can. That is why Luring a dog behavior works! You can use food to your advantage by Luring a dog behavior!

How to fade luring into a hand signal?

I must repeat this: Do NOT use luring a dog behavior more than 3-5 times!

Here is an example:

Training your dog to sit
  1. Move the treat up, towards your dog's eyes, very slowly.
  2. You will notice that he will sit as his head goes up (and his bottom goes down).
  3. Yes! Mark and treat! He deserves it!
  4. Repeat steps 1-3, three times.
  5. The fourth time do the same without the treat in your hand! (but your hand still smells good so your canine friend will follow it).
  6. Repeat alternating treat-no treat.
  7. Use the non-treat lure more often (i.e.: treat, no-treat, no-treat, treat) until you completely fade the lure away.
  8. Change the luring movement of your arm into a hand-signal. The hand signal usually derives from the luring movement of your arm. So in this case it could be if you start with your hand down (palm facing out) move your hand towards your shoulder bending your elbow doing so.
  9. From now on prompt your dog with the hand signal only. Give him a reward every time he responds to your cue and ignore him if he sits without you doing the hand signal.

When do I use Luring?

There are two instances in which you will want to use Luring:

  1. To train a new behavior as explained above.
  2. Get your dog's attention!

For example: You are out on a walk and your tail-wagger friend sees a running squirrel. Instead of yelling and choking to prevent him to react, use a lure! Have the BEST yummy treat you can find, put it right under his nose and happily try to distract him away.

Important: release the treat to your dog ONLY after he is paying attention to you! Do not feed him while he is still interested in the squirrel or you will be rewarding him for the opposite of what you wanted to!

Troubleshooting Luring

  • My dog doesn't follow the food in my hand!

Solutions:

  1. Try moving your hand slowly. If you move it too fast the animal can't follow and will loose interest or try to bite it off your hand!
  2. The treat you are using might not be "good enough". Experiment with different treats to find the ones that get your dog excited! (pieces of chicken, cheese, cat treats - the size of the treat should be about half of your fingernail!).
  • My dog is not motivated by food!

Solutions:

  1. Try using toys! Small and squeaky!
  2. If luring is not working for you...don't worry! There is more to learn! Capturing might be the right technique for you.

Common concerns about Luring a dog behavior

  • If I use a treat to get him to do something...it's a bribe!

Answer: Not really. The word bribe is typically associated with having someone do an illegal or dishonest act. You are just trying to get your pet to be well mannered. That way the whole family can live in harmony!

  • If I use a treat then my dog will always need a treat to do the behavior!

Answer: This is NOT true. If you follow the advice on this website you will get a well behaved dog that can and will respond even if you do not have a treat with you! Read "How to Use Training Treats Correctly" article for more information.

  • If I use luring, the dog will be distracted with the treat and not pay attention to what he is actually doing (which is what I want him to learn!)

Answer: This can be true. The only drawback will be that your dog will take a little longer to figure out why he is getting rewarded. I recommend using luring for basic behaviors like sit, down, stand, etc. But complex behaviors might need to be trained with a different method like Capturing. Click to learn more about Capturing!

Luring a dog behavior is a positive training technique.


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