Chances are, you’ve probably used luring before in your training routine. Luring is a way to help shape a dog’s behavior by guiding them into a behavior you want and then rewarding them. Luring is faster than capturing natural behaviors or shaping them by small degrees.
You might use luring to get your pet to come to you, by first calling them and then showing them a tasty treat. They can be used to show your dog how to make eye contact, sit, down, and many other tricks.
Why It Works
In order to reward a dog for a particular behavior, you first have to get the behavior. This isn’t always as easy as it seems. It can take a very long time to capture the right behavior if you’re waiting for it to appear normally.
By using a treat to guide your pet, you can help communicate to them what behavior you are rewarding. Dogs tend to follow their noses, so if you lower a tasty treat between their legs, they’ll often flop down to get it.
Although food is a primary reinforcer for this, toys are also sometimes used as a lure.
How To Use Luring In Training
One of the benefits to luring a behavior is you can communicate to your pet what you want much faster. An operant dog, or a dog that knows to offer behaviors in exchange for rewards, can still become frustrated if they can’t figure out what you want quickly.
If you show your pet how to sit with a lure for example, they’ll often quickly learn to sit without it in just a few repetitions.
Fading the Lure
Luring is only meant to help you communicate to your pet what you want. If you continue to lure your pet they may think that following the food is what you want—not the actual position. Once your dog is consistently following the food, you can start fading the lure.
To fade the lure, start by making the same hand motion as if you have the treat, but without the food. Make the same motion and use your verbal command for the new behavior at the same time. Your pet will likely follow the motion even without the food.
Reward them with the food (hidden in a treat bag until now) and repeat several times. Once they are following your hand motion without the food, you can start the hand motion but abort it early. Eventually, you can just give the verbal command.
Used properly, luring is a powerful communication tool. Used improperly, dogs learn little more than hands have food in them. By using luring just long enough to communicate to your pet what you want, you can have the best of both worlds.
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