By Barbara Smith CPDT-KA, Owner- The Thinking K9, LLC
Lures are a valuable tool to use in dog training. They can accelerate the learning process, as well as give us a valuable tool to help our dog into positions without resorting to physical manipulation which can cause joint and muscle damage. However, it is important to effectively use a lure so it doesn’t inadvertently turn into a bribe. Dog’s that are bribed have a significantly harder time being faded off food rewards during obedience training. This results in a dog that will not do as they are told unless they physically see the bribe every time.
The proper way to use a lure is outlined in the example below, using the Sit command. However, a lure can be used with most commands.
- Be prepared! Without making it easily known to your dog, have a treat hidden in your hand. It is best to grab a treat when your dog isn’t looking.
- Tell your dog “Sit” and immediately, without any hesitation whatsoever, lure your dog into the sit position.
- Treat your dog for sitting and praise them profusely.
Bribing is done in a variety of ways, all of which entail showing the dog food (or other reward) to persuade them into executing a command, without using the food to actively lure their body into position. A common way that bribing evolves is explained in the following scenario; An owner asks their dog to Sit, and they genuinely believe their dog will. When their dog fails to sit, THEN they bring out the treat to persuade (aka bribe!) the dog. Now the dog knows there’s a treat to work for. In this situation, a dog quickly learns that they can refuse to do a command, wait for the treat to come into sight, and then do it. This creates a dog that will actively refuse to do a command unless they see a treat in their owner’s hand– The very definition of a bribe. Don’t fall into this trap. Lures can be faded away relatively easily, but bribes are hard!