Targeting Vs Luring


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I can still usually spot the moment my dog "gets it".
Even if he followed a bit of food to get there, i can almost see the lightbulb moment, "AH HA! mom wants me to do THIS here! ohhhh..."

He is thinking. He is.
Yes! but you are using luring as an explanation and Buddy is actively trying to work that out! His mind is actively trying to figure out what you are saying.

I think that "explanation" dogs (whether targeting or luring) have a different thought process, I keep nearly being able to express what I am thinking and then it eludes me again! It is something like when you start free shaping and the dog suddenly understands that the reward does not have to be directly linked to the trick and then the dog suddenly starts working with you to figure it out. Maybe someone else knows what I mean and can explain it better :confused:, it is one of those things I saw click in Zac's head and it revolutionised what we could do together but I can't figure out how to explain it O_o.

I still don't know whether targeting and luring are different in Zac's head, I'll have to experiment ;). I'm not even sure whether I'm talking about the same thing as in the article any more :LOL:, that's a new one, I don't know whether I've derailed the thread or not!!!!


Honored Member
The traditional methods of luring did not encourage the dog to think and the reason a dog continued to do the trick once the lure was faded was often more about conditioning a response and muscle memory than thinking. These dogs did have the ability to "think" but often never learned to employ that "thinking" for their owner because they waited to be told what to do. Probably this is what the article refers to.
That is exactly how Cooper thinks. He just waits for me to tell him what to do. When free shaping he will offer some behaviour, but if I don't click after two attempts he will shut down.
It took me a long time to figure this out, even though my trainer told me a million times not to think for my dog:D It was so "normal" for me to lead Cooper every step of the way. And his layed back attitude does not help either...

I think using luring as part of an explanation is different because it does involve "thinking" - the dog knows you are trying to tell it something and it is always trying to work out what you are saying - this kind of lured dog does "think"
This is how I train Jinx, or at least try to. Over the years of training with Cooper, I realised I was just being too impatient. So when I started training with Jinx I let her try things out herself. She does approaches a new item(post it, box, what ever) and offers nose or paw touches all on her own. She does "think" more. And when she gets confused(after a badly timed click or me wanting to go too fast too soon:rolleyes:) she will keep offering behaviour.
Something which sometimes result in a totally different trick, then what I started out for.

And Tigerlily... Don't you just LOVE those lightbulb moments!!! We recently had one with back up. Weeks of struggling and luring... I switched from treatluring to targetluring(targetstick) and presto... she does it! On the first try!! I did two sessions with her and now she has it on handcue. Only problem now is... it's her new favorite trick and she will do it before anything else... I ask for a sit... she will first back up and then sit down:rolleyes::ROFLMAO:


Honored Member
Anneke... Thanks! Great examples for luring!

Do you think that the learning styles of Jinx and Cooper were influenced more by their individual characters or by your training methods? Zac is pretty laid back as a character but he did learn to engage in active learning... eventually... at first he used to shut down really quickly like Cooper and just fall asleep! That phrase "muscle memory" in dog training books - as if dogs are robots to be programmed - is always going to make me cringe in future.

I think what we are talking about is almost the difference that people normally think relates to clicker V non-clicker dogs. Maybe people forget that a clicker can just be used as a better marker and does not necessarily mean active learning? Or maybe I'm drifting off track... :confused:


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I do think their personality has a lot to do with it. Cooper has never been a "worker" He does have his moments and he is very, very smart. But he is just too lazy to do it, most of the time:D
Jinx on the other hand, is full of energy. Always looking for something to do, when I get up, she gets up...

But I also think I have learned to be more patient.
And I have learned how to use the clicker properly. With Cooper I did use the clicker, but my click only replaced my vocal praise. And I would teach non-clicker, then use the clicker to fine-tune the behaviour. For example heelwork. I thaught this by luring. Treat in front of nose, treat held on my thight at nose hight, treat held on hip, no treat, just hand on hip. But Cooper would hang back when I had no treat in my hand. So I used the clicker to mark the spot where I wanted him to be.
With Jinx I have been using the clicker a lot more, although I will never be a free-shaper. I just don't have the patience. I guess you could call a few of Jinx her tricks free-shaped, like get into the box and her jump back(that last one is a behaviour she offered all on her own and I was able to capture it)
But now I understand more about how dogs learn and how I can show them what I want.

I do have to say I did not like clicker training with Cooper, because he does not think for himself. So I never made the effort to try any different.
It's with Jinx, that I got into clickertraining more and more. Just because it is so much fun to see her think.


Honored Member
Anneke - That's kind of what I thought you would say about Cooper and Jinx...

See I'm beginning to think some dogs are active learners however they are trained but others need to be encouraged. Maybe dogs that don't engage can be exceedingly bright but they think they are slaves to nobody? :)

Zac wasn't an active learner, he's very bright but he played dumb and never used that intelligence for me, he's a bit of a free thinker (like when he pretends he can't stack dishes) so I only used to catch glimpses of intelligence. But he really does like free shaping and once we got past the falling asleep stage (which went on for weeks because he was so used to me showing him what to do) he was a totally different dog to train.

Like with Cooper luring with Zac is often just rewarding him when he get into in a particular position, half the time he can't be bothered to follow a hand held treat anyway :rolleyes:. We're fairly creative and I often have to throw treats for him to chase to keep him active (eg to stop him dropping into a down from bow) - that's kind of luring too if you think about it and for a chasing dog it really increases the value of the reward.


Active Member
Totally, "wa, la" indeed, Tigerlily. Works out nicely that way;)

Just like in martial arts, when you get to be so good at whatever form you practice, Your form becomes "formless", meaning, you're just dog training, using whatever combinations of things work best, no need to label it (or its aspects) with a certain style.


Honored Member
Running-dog, that sounds all too familiar:D I swear he thinks : what's in it for me? Why would I do this?:rolleyes: Ooh, you have a treat, well alright then...
Although I find this very frustrating, him being so bright and still so lazy, I do love it when I CAN get him to do something.
I find it easier to train an active dog, that I have to hold back sometimes, then to be overly cheerfull and full of praise with a dog that is more passive. But I guess that is because I am actually a bit lazy myself:ROFLMAO: