When to use food luring in Dog Training

Sep 19, 2022

As I mentioned in this article, luring is very easily misused. If you use it for everything then you have to phase it out of everything which adds to the amount of training you have to do. You have essentially doubled the amount of work required in order to get your dog to learn a behavior. That’s just not something I want to do and most likely you don't either. As they say, lazy people find the most efficient way to do something. I’m only going to use luring for very particular circumstances, and that is teaching.

Teaching is the first phase of any behavioral skill. Before you can start to really train the behavior, adding in the cue and working on different variables, you have to teach the behavior itself. Your dog needs to know what it should be doing and how. Why do I use luring for this phase and not shaping? I will use both to varying degrees, however, if I’m in the right mindset and I have the time to use free shaping I will opt for that 99% of the time. Shaping is better for long-term training and retention. However, if I need a dog to do something right now, I will lure them and quickly phase out the lure as soon as possible. The better you get at phasing out the lure the faster your dog will truly learn the behavior you are trying to teach.

What typically happens throughout training is we don’t think about phasing out the lure in the beginning and we run into problems later on. “My dog will do the behavior when I motion but not when I say anything.” That is because you’re trying to do too many things at once. You have to teach the behavior and then you can add the cue once that behavior is exactly how you want to. The advice I was given when I first started off in dog training was to lure and say the cue at the same time. This is outdated and will cause more confusion for you and your dog. Wait to add the word/ cue you want to associate until after your dog knows the behavior 100%.

So when do I use luring? Only when I'm concerned about the short-term in that moment and during the teaching phase.

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

-Michael J. Accetta




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