I hate luring.

I’ve said it on podcasts, to clients, raged to my fellow trainers. I didn’t enjoy luring my own dogs and actively turned my nose up at it. I’ll shape it instead, I would mutter. I was sick of reading posts slating force free trainers for not training properly, and just luring dogs into everything; whilst seeing insane videos online of dogs in prongs being lured and their trainers worshipped. So, I just stuck out at shaping. It seemed easier to stick at shaping than to learn how to lure at this stage.

Over the last year, I have been lured (for lack of a better word) to learn about it. To awkwardly start learning how to start teaching my dogs it, and build the skillset myself. I followed trainers on socials and after much searching and deliberation bought a course from STS K9 – positive only. The first thing I noted whilst watching the videos, was how much fun it was. My dogs took to it instantly and I noticed a very different connection building. The next step, while still honing my skills was to get some proper guidance. So, I went to a workshop with Jo-Rosie Haffenden – and I have never looked back since. As you said, ‘if you can get it quicker, cleaner and easier – why wouldn’t you?’

At her workshop I learned how to lure properly. And it was nothing like how I originally learned to lure at all. It was like this amazing secret door had been opened and I was being let in on this insane secret.

As a trainer, I have told puppy owners to pinch the treat between their thumb and forefinger, and let puppy follow, delivering the precious treat when the dogs in the right position. That is still luring – but it’s not luring in the style I use with my own dogs. There is so much to the skillset and a there is complete sub skillset that comes with it. I can honestly say, I love it.

There are many ways to lure, but I’m going to detail the two that I start with to introduce dogs to the concept.

Fist closed – High Arousal Luring

This is great for building behaviours. Getting joyful expression of behaviour, with high reward, motion equals fun for your pup! As soon as I present this lure, I want my dogs to jump on it, ready for the ride with 100% commitment


Flat top – Steering

Whilst the above is great for getting motion and expression, flat top allows us to finesse a little. For this, I expect the dog to not be firmly pressed onto it the entire time, but still totally engaged and following. This can be great for steering into position beside me, over an obstacle or for more intricate details like head position.

Really, luring is a dance between you, your dog and the goal behaviour.

Since changing to training this way, I have noticed some changes in my dogs relationship, and behaviour with me.

They are so much more engaged with me in all environments and they seek me out when they are bored instead of getting up to nonsense. They cuddle me more, touch me more and interestingly I get so much more eye contact from them, despite not working on this for years!

There are things I could perceive as negatives – things that previous me, the shaper trainer would have been super annoyed at. These things though, I now love. They make me smile, and I see them as start buttons. Oscar noses at my hands more. They jump at me, and on me. They communicate with me, when they want something. Sometimes its training, more often than not its whatever I am eating. When we train, they aren’t gentle, and respectful of distance between us – they barge into my personal space, the nibble and mouth at my hands. Oscar hooks his front legs round my shins in an effort to get closer and get that reward. However, it’s only to me they do this and people in our circle that they perceive to be possible training partners. Seeing my dogs confidently walk up to my friends and ‘ask’ to dance is something I tried to teach for years. We have engagement without asking and we have dogs ready to leap into the zone.

This doesn’t mean that they are feral – that they are demanding velociraptors. However, I am mindful that I created this relationship. And, when working with clients it’s something that is always in the forefront of my mind when we build this relationship. What do they want from their dog – and more importantly what are they willing to give? What can they handle from their dog vs what their dog needs.

Bringing dogs and their humans together has to be one of my most favourite things, and having this new tool in my toolbox has brought me no end of joy – and bruises!






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