How to Use Luring to Teach Your Dog New Behaviors
with Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie of PathandPaw, Training Advocate

Luring is the most common training method I see dog owners use, and it can actually be quite effective but it has some common pitfalls. Luring is simply taking a piece of food to your dog’s nose and using it to direct them into the movement or position you want. 


The first pitfall is lack of clarity - the dog may not be paying attention to what they’re doing, so they’re just following the food. This will make it hard for them to repeat the behavior or learn it effectively. Using your marker will help give some clarity to what you’re asking. For example, if you’re teaching a “sit” with a lure, you draw the treat up and slightly back, and when the dog’s rear hits the floor you mark and then treat. This helps pinpoint that the butt hitting the floor is the desired behavior. 


The second potential pitfall is being stuck with the lure. In other words, the dog never learns to sit when you say, “Sit,” but rather learns to put their butt down when the cookie appears. The key with luring is to fade the lure as fast as possible - and the marker helps out with that, too. If it’s clearer when reinforcement is being earned, it’s easier to replicate without the presence of the lure. 


Here are a few common behaviors to teach with a lure:


Sit: Treat starts at the dog’s nose, moves up and slightly back, mark when the butt hits the floor.

Down: Treat goes from the dog’s nose down between the two front paws (move the lure in closer to the dog’s body vs out further in front of them, which is more likely to prompt them to step forward). Mark when the elbows hit the floor. 

Spin: Treat at the dog’s nose, move in a tight circle towards their rear and into a circle. Mark when the dog has gone 360 degrees and is facing you once again. 


Others include weaving between the legs, two paws up on an object, sit pretty, roll over, jumping over objects, and more! 


So give it a whirl! Try teaching your dog a new behavior with a lure and see how quickly you can fade it. Tag me at @pathandpaw on Instagram and let me know how it goes! 


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