The Problems With Luring Your Dog

Sep 19, 2022

Food luring is taking food and guiding your dog through a particular position while rewarding them for being in said position. If you've read our other articles about food luring, then you know how I feel about using it in certain situations. The simple fact of the matter is that luring is going to cause some types of problems.

First off, luring requires you to phase out the lure as much as possible. This could take several sessions or months if you're not good at it. The other problem is always many will go back to the lure anytime you run into problems with your training. This then tells the dog that you are going to give them the easiest answer possible when met with a challenge. Is this the worst thing in the world? No. Does it help us long-term? No. I'm always thinking about the long-term with my dog and therefore I will forgo luring them.

So even if you manage to phase out the lure effectively, you still have the task of phasing out hand motions. If your goal is to have your dog respond to hand motions by all means go for it. But now you have to phase those out as well. That can take another couple of weeks or months if you're not good at it. Notice what I say; if you're not good at it. There are trainers on the professional side of dog training who are very prolific at phasing out luring and hand motions. I would say it took them many years to get that down because the average person isn't going to be able to pick up on the small nuances it takes to phase that out.

Another big problem that I see with luring is that many trainers and dog owners will lure their dogs over and over again, and then randomly stop. I've seen it happen far too often where they lure the dog so much while saying the cue to try to make an association and then stop luring and just say the cue. What happens? The dog does nothing. Now you've created a dog owner that does not believe luring works or one that believes training doesn't. On the companion side of dog training, this can be very costly and frustrating for a dog owner who simply wants their dog trained. If we were to go an alternative route, let's say target training. There is a very clear progression and easy way to see if your dog is understanding or not almost immediately. Luring is a very trustworthy process and takes a lot longer to see reliable results without relying on the lure. Which would you prefer?

And finally a huge problem I see with luring a dog is a dog that just simply won't perform or be creative without the presence of a prompt. Some dog trainers will call this stubborn or some have even called dogs stupid. The simple fact of the matter is that the dog is waiting for you to cue them. In the case the cue has no verbal attachment, the lure becomes the cue. The sequence of any behavior is always antecedent, behavior, and consequence. There's always some kind of stimulus that sparks a behavior and then there's always some kind of consequence after the behavior whether it's positive or negative. When you use luring to start a behavior you are becoming the antecedent. Your dog becomes reliant on that antecedent to perform the behavior to get a reward. I opt for teaching my dog that in the presence of me they should try new behaviors which creates more creativity and excitement and then I can add a particular cue to it once I like the behavior. What do you think?

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

-Michael J. Accetta




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