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Dog Training/Fading lures/fading prompts


Hello, I am frequenting obedience classes and am a bit confused about something and I got a bit confused on the process. So we have trained our dogs to lie down using food as lures. Last week, we stopped showing the food, so we do the hand movement with an empty hand and then when the dog lies down, we feed food from our pocket. This week, the trainer wants us to fade the hand movement as well. I am confused because as the trainer was showing with her demo dog, she made the hand movement less noticeable, but I saw that she had food again in that hand and used it to reward. Wasn't the food supposed to be gone? I asked her and she said that since "we raised criteria, it was OK to reward again from the same hand used for the hand movement."  I am not sure what that means. She also said this was just temporary, for a couple of times and that it was OK since the food wasn't in plain view as when using food lures but enclosed in the hand and out of sight. So this week as I practice at home, I am wondering if it's best to hold the food in the same hand as I am fading the hand movement or keep it in the other hand. Please help clarify, I am not to familiar with the training ling sometimes. This trainer was substituting our regular trainer who is out of town who I have a better time understanding. Many thanks!

Excellent question, Melissa. This is exactly why I don't use food lures for training. I would much rather capture a clean behavior and put it on a cue (verbal or hand signal) after I get the behavior I want. It's too much work to fade a food lure. I want to reward the dog AFTER she does the behavior, not bribe her to do it with food.

Here's my suggestion since you've started with luring. Give the verbal cue (I assume you're saying "down"), wait about 3 seconds for the dog to respond. If she doesn't go down, give the hand signal at that time with NO FOOD. If she goes down, reward afterward.

While you're training, keep food in your pocket, a training pouch or a cup on a nearby table or counter. You don't want the dog to be dependent on seeing food in your hand to perform. I have no issue paying the dog after she does it right.

Let me know if you have questions or comments. I'm happy to help troubleshoot. Happy training!

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Barb Gadola, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP


I can answer questions related to problem dog behaviors, teaching polite manners, puppy raising, and any type of training-related issues. My website page, offers a wealth of information on training and behavior issues as well.


I've been training dogs since 1989 and own and operate Distinctive Dog Training LLC in Keller TX. I specialize in providing practical and positive solutions for families through personalized training in their home.

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