Teaching your dog to behave requires a lot of practice, patience and most importantly, knowing the right buttons to push. Without the right techniques, training a dog to behave can be very frustrating and time-consuming. 

One of the strategies often employed by pet owners is the lure-and-reward technique, which is very useful when teaching your dog simple commands, and how to respond to verbal cues and hand signals.  

In this article, we are going to go over the lure-and-reward method and show you how to use it effectively to train your dog. We will also discuss how to fade the lure so that your dog becomes more responsive to your verbal cues and hand signals.

What is the Lure-and-Reward Method?

The lure-and-reward technique entails using a treat to prompt your dog to behave a certain way. The treat is designed to lure your dog into following your commands, upon which they get rewarded with a treat.

How to use the Lure-and-Reward Method

In order to use the lure-and-reward method, you need to find a treat which your dog enjoys. Hold the treat to your dog’s nose to get them interested. Move the treat around your dog to get them to move the way you want. For instance, if you are training to sit, hold the treat slightly above their nose. As your dog looks up to try to get the treat, it’s rear will naturally fall to the ground. When your dog behaves the way you want, feed them the treat to reward them for their behavior. After a few repetitions of this exercise, your dog will begin to associate your hand motion with a treat. 

Once you have established that your dog is reliably following your commands, it is time to fade the lure so that they do not become reliant on treats to perform certain behaviors. In order to do so, you need to repeat the hand motion you used before, but without a treat in your hand. Reward your dog with a treat after they accomplish what you want them to do. With several repetitions, your hand motion will become naturally become a signal to your dog. 

While most dogs follow an empty hand easily, there are some that only follow when there is a visible treat. It is therefore important to make your dog understand the difference between the lure and the reward. You can easily achieve this by following these simple steps:

  • Use a treat to lure your dog and reward him with the lure once he does what you have asked
  • Use treats on one hand to lure your dog and feed him a treat from your other hand once he does as you’ve asked
  • Use an empty hand to lure your dog and reward him with a treat from your other hand after he does what you have asked.

After a few repetitions of this exercise, your dog will understand the association between your hand motion and reward and thus follow instructions more easily.