I hope y’all are having a smooth transition into fall! With the start of October comes the next in our series of training challenges about ways to teach a behavior to our pets. This month, we’re going to talk about luring!
This month, we challenge you to practice your training skills by teaching your pet a new behavior through luring!
Last month, we talked about capturing as another way to teach a behavior to our pet. In case you missed it, make sure to check out how to Teach Your Pet Something New Through Capturing, too!
Just as I did in the capturing blog last month, for sake of demonstration, I’m going to keep the behavior the same (go to a spot or bed), but stick around until the end of this blog post for suggestions of other behaviors that you can teach commonly through luring!
Let’s get into it!
First, let’s talk about what luring is.
Luring means having a treat (or toy, etc.) in your hand and moving that hand in a way that when your pet follows they perform the desired action. For example, to get a pet to sit via luring you’d move the lure hand up over their head and as the head goes up the butt goes down. Or, as you can see in this video, Allie is luring Oso from a sit to a down:
Luring is an easy way to start teaching a lot of things as most pets and their people do well with it. But, like with all things, there can be some downsides!
One of the complaints we get most often from families that have taught things through luring is that their pet will only do it when they have a treat in their hand. And this is an extremely common challenge! While luring may look very simple in execution, to do it well, and to fade the lure (remove the lure from the picture), can take some finesse and skill! In order to make sure that the lure isn’t solidified as part of the picture, we often recommend practicing 2-5 times, then removing the lure from your hand.
The thing to remember with luring is to fade the lure quickly so you’re not stuck having to have a treat in your hand forever. So, what might that look like? Check out the video below to see a demonstration of how we might teach a dog to go to a spot, or bed, with a lure!
*Welcome to a behind-the-scenes look at the chaos that is my office :D*
I always recommend starting by testing your lure without any agenda. Does your dog follow the lure? Are you able to move while holding the lure (this isn’t just a dog skill!)?
Lure your pet once, and when they *do the thing* give them the treat.
Lure your pet a second time, and when they *do the thing* give them the treat.
Repeat with nothing in your hand, but with your hand in the same position, and if your dog *does the thing* mark and give them a treat!
If your dog doesn’t *do the thing*, then lure one or two more times and then try again with an empty hand.
Tips to Help Your Training
- Start simple! This may be a new skill for you and your pet, and if that’s the case, don’t try to lure them over some complicated obstacle course, start small, like taking 1 or 2 steps, or going to bed.
- If your pet turns away from the lure in your hand, it isn’t going to be very effective. This can happen for a number of reasons ranging from your lure not being of appropriate value, or even pets learning that lures predict unfortunate things for them (Kathy and Emily talk in depth about this in Episode 19 – Kathy Sdao: Food Motivation Myths around the 37-minute mark!) You may need to start teaching there rather than with a trick!
- Avoid luring your pet into a situation where they will be uncomfortable (also discussed in Episode 19 – Kathy Sdao: Food Motivation Myths!) If you aren’t sure if your pet is uncomfortable or not, brush up on your pet’s body language. Some of our favorite dog and cat body language resources are here, and this is one of our go-to resources for parrot body language.
- Whenever teaching something to your pet, start in a low-distraction environment. It will make things easier for you and them.
- Be prepared before you engage with your pet. It can be really frustrating for our pet to be waiting for us to be ready, so be prepared before you get your pet out of their comfy spot.
Additional tricks or skills to teach with a lure:
- Treat magnet – this is a staple in the Yoakum household and Hannah does a great job of walking you through the process in this blog!
- “Reach for the sky!”
- Army crawl
- Figure 8 between legs
- Walk over something
- Two or four paws up on something
- Nod your head
- Decide what you’re going to teach your pet through luring! There are so many options beyond what we listed here, and Kikopup has fantastic tutorials for so many things!
- Practice with your pet following the lure before you try to use it as a tool. Some pets will have a harder time with that initial step, for any number of reasons, so practice that first.
- Don’t forget to have fun! If you find yourself getting frustrated or overwhelmed, take a break and do something that both you and your pet find enjoyable.
- Tag us on our Facebook or Instagram to let us know what you’re up to!