DESIGNER PUPPYS: Everything you wanted to know about raising designer or mixed breed dogs,
featuring The BOYZ: Prince Alvin His Cuteness (on left) and Sir Simon The Sad, Cockapoo pups.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Recall Training Tip - Lure versus Reward

Alvin's typical reaction to the Come Command

If you're new to training a puppy basic commands, you're going to make mistakes. If your pup is not responding the way you want him to, the dog's not stubborn or stupid, you're doing something wrong.

A Prince Alvin example
The Prince responds quite nicely to both verbal and hand commands for sit, stay, and down. The command "Come" is the problem. As long as he's fairly certain I have treats on my person, he'll come when called, even if there are distractions. But when there are no treats in sight (or smell), the reaction is what you see in the picture above.

So what's a newbie trainer to do? In the case of the Come command, my mistake is that I'm using treats as a lure instead of a reward. I finally remembered the discussion of lure versus reward in the training DVD I'm using (see Bringing Your New Pup Home continued). The trainer in "It's Pawsible" recommends phasing out the lure (treats in your hand) to the point where there are no treats in your hand. Once the phaseout is complete, you reinforce randomly with a positive comment or a treat as a reward (but not originally in your hand as a lure).

Over time the pup will associate the treat with the command even if he doesn't get a treat every time. According to this trainer, treats will always be needed as a reward. The trainer asks this question, "Would you come to work if there were no paycheck?"

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