Luring a Behaviour

Make your GSD follow a treat to show him/her what to do

Luring a dog behaviour is a positive dog training technique used to teach your GSD basic commands. This method is fast and does not involve any pushing around.

Dogs are opportunists! 

By using food to your advantage, you teach your GSD many things simply by following your hand/treat.

How to use Luring?

  1. Grab a yummy treat.
  2. Show it to your GSD by placing it directly his/her nose,
  3. Then without letting go of the treat, but letting your GSD lick it a little bit move your hand slowly around.
  4. When you get the desired behaviour, Mark and Treat.

Note that even though you are using a treat as both a lure and a reward, a lure is used to produce a behaviour whereas the reward is used to reinforce the behaviour. A reward is given AFTER the behaviour is done!

What can I teach my dog with luring?

Now you can move your hand around and make your pet do different things. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Lure your dog into a sit

Move the treat very slowly towards your GSD’s eyes. You will notice that he/she will sit as his/her head goes up (and his/her bottom goes down). As soon as he/she does this – mark and treat!

Lure your dog into a down

Start with your GSD in a sitting position. Move the treat down to the floor, slowly. Your GSD will follow the treat down and might just plop down all the way – mark and treat!

Lure your dog to roll-over

Start with your GSD in a down position, move the treat to the side of his head slowly until he turns all around – mark and treat!

Lure your dog "off" the furniture

Instead of pushing your GSD off the furniture, screaming, yelling, or getting upset, use a treat to lure your GSD off the furniture – mark and treat  as soon as he/she is off!

~~ TIP ~~

Luring a dog behaviour is a basic method to start training your pet.

Luring a dog behaviour should only be used the first 3-5 repetitions when you start training a new command after this, you need to “fade the lure”; this means to teach your GSD to follow your empty hand. In time, your -empty- hand movement will become a hand signal. After that, switch to capturing or use a hand signal or verbal cue to elicit the behaviour.

When to use Luring?

To train a NEW behaviour

You can use luring to train many dog commands and tricks. Anything that can be elicited with your dog following a treat can become a cue. 

To get your GSD's attention

For example:: You are walking your GSD who spots/sees a running cat or rabbit, instead of yelling and pulling on the leash to prevent your GSD from reacting, use a lure. As chasing small critters is an extremely fun thing to do, you need to ensure that the treat is something your GSD finds hard to resist, placing it directly under the GSD’s nose and to distract him/her.

Important: ONLY release that treat once your GSD is focusing on you and not its prey! DO NOT release to treat while he/she is still focused on the prey as this would only reinforce the unwanted behaviour by rewarding him/her for the opposite of what you intended!

Caution: When you overuse a lure to get your GSD’s attention he/she will learn that no matter what you say, he/she can wait until you come and put a treat under his/her nose. Using a lure to get your GSD’s attention should only be used sporadically and in critical situations.

To move your dog without pushing him around

Luring a dog behaviour is a great way to move your GSD around without physical interventions. Here are a few examples of when to use luring:

  • Getting your GSD in and out of the car
  • Teaching your GSD to go up or down the stairs
  • Getting your GSD to get on to the scales at the vets
  • Getting your dog to enter his/her crate

Troubleshooting Luring a Dog Behaviour

My GSD doesn't follow the food in my hand

  1. Try moving your hand slowly. If you move it too fast your GSD will not be able to follow and will either lose interest or trying to bite or mouth your hand.
  2. The treat being used may not be “good enough”. Experiment with different treats to find the ones that really get your dog excited/motivated.  Use small pieces of chicken, cheese or Devon ensuring that they are VERY small – no bigger than a pea.

My dog is not motivated by food

  1. Try using toys, preferably something small and squeaky.
  2. You can also teach your dog to touch your hand or other item and using this as the lure. This is referred to as target training.
  3. If luring is not working for you, don’t despair there are a variety of methods you can use to train your GSD. Capturing might be the right technique for you and your GSD.

Common concerns about Luring a dog behaviour

Using treats is really bribing – Not really. You are simply rewarding desired behaviour.

I will always need treats to get my GSD to do what is asked of it – This is NOT true. Your GSD can and will respond even if you don’t use treats Read how to use food treatsHow to use food treats and non food treat for rewards for GSDs for more information.

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