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Tuesday Training Byte: Fading food lures/rewards

For the majority of dogs, food treats are a powerful motivator. Starting out, I may use the food to lure the dog into the desired position. Once the dog is in position, I say "Yes!" with a big smile and treat the dog. After a couple of times, I move the treat to the pocket, using body language to get the dog into position, followed by the word "Yes!" to mark the correct behavior. Then treat the dog from the pocket. At some point, I will mark the correct behavior with the smile and Yes, followed by petting and praising the dog. Once the dog is solid on understanding the command of what you want him to do, the treats can be given randomly and less frequently. I may not have a treat with me, but I can smile, and praise the dog. If I have incorporated a clear beginning and ending into my training session we are more likely to keep the dog focused and eager to work. (See earlier blog on this topic). These concepts are important especially if you plan to show your dog in a rally or obedience trial (no food is allowed, little to no touching or praise either while in the ring). Eventually I do a short training session outside with no food or praise. Then I clearly end the session with a "Yay! Good work!" and clap my hands. We then run into the house for a little play session with her favorite toy or a cuddle session on the couch. Be patient and remember this happens in small steps. Happy training.

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