When should you not use food luring in dog training?

Sep 19, 2022

When do you not want to use food luring? In another article, I talked about how to use food luring effectively and in this article, I talked about when to use food luring in this article. Now we’re going to talk about when NOT to use it.

Food luring is great for teaching your dog how to do something short-term. When you are training at the beginning of your journey it is alright to start with luring however you need to move on to the next steps quickly. You should not be using a food lure when adding in the cue or working on the other variables we have talked about (distance, duration, distractions). Once you get into the training phase of working with your dog, get rid of the food lure. You shouldn't be working on distance, duration, or distractions with a food lure. Your dog should be completely reliant on the cue and consistently respond to it when you ask them to perform the behavior. The more you use the food lure without trying to phase it out, the more reliant your dog is going to become on it. You can’t lure your dog with food at 100ft, so why would you start luring them when you’re working on 10ft. It simply doesn’t make sense. Think about the end in mind and you will understand that food luring isn’t the way to go once you have got past the teaching phase.

Another area of dog sports and training is conditioning. A lot of trainers will use luring to get their dog into a particular position while on balance equipment and doing some time strength work. I find that there are other ways to do it that might be more effective. Why would I do this? I discussed with Lindsey Hindes in this episode of the Acknowledge Dog’s Podcast about using lures on conditioning equipment. The general consensus was that, yes it does work for the short term but it’s very easy to get your dog to overwork a particular muscle in that position.

If I am working with a dog on the balance equipment and I want them to go to the right, they could lean so far to the right where they start to overcompensate just to try and get the treat. They are not focusing on what I want them to focus on since they are “cheating” in order to get the treat. Instead, if I were to use a target they would only lean as far as they felt comfortable doing. The difference is that a target isn’t as exciting and blinding as the food is. Food for some dogs could be so overwhelming that they will forgo any other safety measures and easily put themselves at risk for injury simply to get the food.

Good luck, stay training and I'll see you in the next article.

-Michael J. Accetta



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