Sit, Down, and Stand: Luring with Treats

With luring, you’ll use a treat to lead your dog into the positions. When luring, be sure to keep the treat pinched between your fingers, so you can control it until the right moment. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose and move it at the speed your dog can and will follow it.

If the treat is too far away or you move it too fast, your dog will probably either lose interest in the treat, or leap or grab for it. Just bring the treat back to your dog’s nose and start again. Use the corresponding command once as your dog moves into the correct position.

In the first several sessions, you’ll be CR/ treating every correct response. You can also use the command as part of your praise: “Yes! Good sit!”

Luring the Positions

You’re going to teach dog to be able to move easily from any position to any position. So, in one set, you might do two repetitions of sit-down-sit-stand-down-stand. The order you work the positions isn’t important, but you should try to avoid doing it the same way all the time, so your dog doesn’t know what’s coming next.

You can really distract your dog from the lesson if you’re fumbling with and dropping treats all over the floor. If you don’t have the dexterity to hold little pieces and dole them out one at a time, try using string cheese or hot dogs for training treats. Cut them into long strips that you can pinch off, or let your dog nibble a bit at a time.

Following are directions for luring the dog into a sit-down-sit-stand-down-stand:

  1. Hold a treat right in front of your dog’s nose.
  2. Slowly lift the treat up and back, so your dog’s nose is pointed straight up in the air. CR/treat when he sits.
  3. With your dog sitting, lower the treat from his nose straight down to the floor in front of his feet, then slowly away. CR/treat when he downs.
  4. Lure the dog back up into the sit, basically the same lure you used for the original sit, only you’ll be raising your hand to lure him up into the sit after pointing his nose into the air. CR/treat when he sits. When he’s sitting again, keep the treat at or a little lower than nose level and pull it straight away from him, parallel to the floor. CR/treat when he stands.
  5. As your dog is standing, bring the treat from his nose to the floor, pushing the treat toward him, between his feet. CR/treat when he downs.
  6. Bring the treat in a diagonal line up and away from your dog. CR/ treat when he stands.

Weaning Off the Treats

After just a few training sessions, your dog should be getting the idea of what you want, so it’s time to start decreasing the dependence on treats to get him into position (you’ll still be using treats as rewards). Do a little countdown:

  • 5 repetitions with a treat in your hand, 1 without
  • 4 with, 1 without
  • 3 with, 1 without
  • 2 with, 1 without
  • 1 with, 1 without

Then count back up, the other way:

  • 1 with a treat, 2 without
  • 1 with, 3 without
  • 1 with, 4 without
  • 1 with, 5 without

When your dog can do the three positions in any order for 6 repetitions (for example, sit- down-sit-stand-down- stand) without a treat lure, don’t use a treat to lure anymore; just use treats to reward. Within a few sessions of removing the treat from your lure hand, move to a variable schedule of reinforcement, then to a random schedule. Remember to reward the best efforts when you’re on a random reinforcement schedule. They will be the examples of the behaviors that will stick as the final behavior.

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