Lure And Reward Training

If you have researched dog training at all, you know there are many different training methods. Some methods use a clicker or food treats to reinforce wanted actions, other techniques use corrections to discourage unwanted behaviors; there are many different methods. To make it more confusing, no one method is right for every dog and dog owner or even every dog trainer.

Not only do dog owners vary in personality and temperament, but so do their dogs. Breed heritage varies too, in regards to cooperating with the owners as well as learning, retaining what has been learned, and desire to work. Therefore, the training method you choose to use should fit both you and your dog and produce the results you desire.

Lure and Reward is Easy

A lure and reward training method is exactly what it sounds like: a toy or treat (the lure) is used to help your dog do what you wish him to do. The lure then becomes a part of the reward.

For example, think of the lure you’re holding in your fingers as a tiny magnet. Your dog’s nose is the other side of the magnet. Place the magnet (the food treat or toy) in your fingers in front of your dog’s nose and then help him move or assume a position. You can also use the lure from a distance; like a magnet pulling your dog closer and closer to you.

When the action is complete, the lure then becomes the reward. It is given to the dog along with verbal praise, petting, a chance to bounce around, or other rewards your dog enjoys.

The lure must be something your dog likes and, to be most effective, should be something your dog doesn’t get during normal day-to-day activities. Cooked chicken, bits of cheese, home-cooked dog treats, or special commercial training treats can all work. If your dog isn’t motivated by food, use a toy that your dog thinks is special. Just make sure your dog is enthusiastic about the treats or toy.

Yes Means Treats

When using a lure and reward training method, you need to be able to pinpoint those actions or behaviors that you want your dog to do. If you also like using a clicker, you can click at those moments and follow up with a treat.

Other dog owners prefer to use verbal reinforcement. As your dog does what you ask him to do, use a word reserved for this to pinpoint the wanted action. For example, the word ‘yes’ can be said quickly, happily, and at the moment your dog complies.

No matter what word you choose to use, you need to teach your dog that this word is special. Have a handful of high-value treats (treats your dog really likes). Say that special word (yes, for example) and pop a treat in his mouth quickly. Then do it again. Finish off that handful of treats and walk away. Do something else for a while and then repeat. Over the next few days, and even weeks, repeat this exercise. Your dog should visibly perk up when he hears, “Yes!”

Lure and Reward is not Forever

Ideally, a lure should be used in the early stages of the training process. As your dog learns what the expected action is, as well as a verbal command and/or a hand signal, then the lure needs to fade away.

It’s important not to make the lure simply disappear, however. If it does, your dog will stop doing what it is you asked him to do. After all, to him the lure asked him to perform that action and that action equaled the reward.

Instead, copy Las Vegas. The slot machines in Las Vegas don’t pay out every time you pull that handle (or now, punch a button). Instead, they pay out on a random basis. You might get a small payout every third or fourth time and a larger payout every once in a while. So gradually fade away the lure until it’s no longer needed for that action.

The same applies to rewards. Once your dog understands what you’re asking him to do, an intermittent reward will be stronger – mean more to your dog – than a reward every single time. You can also vary the rewards. Use your voice, “Awesome!” as you thump him on the rib cage or scratch his ears. Give him a treat. Toss his toy. Give him a tummy rub. Let him do a few of his favorite tricks. Possible rewards are many, so use them.

Bring back the basic lure and reward technique when you begin teaching something new or if your dog hits a roadblock and is having difficulties with something. Teach or re-teach the actions, then again put the lure and reward on an intermittent basis and fade away the lure.

Give it a Try

This is a positive training technique that is easy for most dog owners to learn. It can be applied to basic obedience exercises as well as other aspects of dog training, including advanced obedience and trick training. Dogs tend to cooperate with this method as it’s easy for them to do and there is little confusion as to what is expected of them.

A lure and reward method of training is quite adaptable and is often used in conjunction with other training techniques. Try it out, get comfortable with it, and see how you and your dog both like it.

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