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Rewards, Bribes Or Lures


Throughout this site, and many others, you will see rewards suggested as a way to train your dog. Usually "reward" means a game with a toy or a treat but it may just mean a pat and a kind word. Some dog owners (and trainers for that matter) are resistant to using rewards because they see them as bribery. In my view, whether they are or not depends on how they are used.


Bribe: "a thing offered to influence the recipient to act in favour of the giver"So a bribe is giving something before you get what you want, in the hope that you will get it. If you want a good seat in a restaurant you can quietly slip the waiter $5 when you arrive. This is clearly a bribe, but as both you and the waiter understand what it's for it may work. Then again it may not, but you are unlikely to see your 5 again either way. That's the risk you take when you offer bribes.Bribery won't work as a dog training method: your dog will take what's offered but it won't influence his/her behaviour afterwards because, unlike the waiter, s/he won't be able to connect it with what s/he's supposed to do.


Reward: "something given in return for a service or action"Rewards are given after you get what you want. Going back to that restaurant, a large tip given to a helpful waiter at the end of a meal is a reward.
no risk involved in offering rewards. You won't see your money again, but the important difference between this and a bribe is that you already have what you wanted. And because it associates the actions you want with pleasant consequences, offering a reward increases your chances of getting what you want next time as well. If sitting in response to your command is immediately followed by a treat you are rewarding your dog, not bribing. This works because (as long as you act quickly enough) your dog will be able to connect the food with his/her own action of sitting. This is why when you offer your dog a treat or toy is so important.


Lure: "enticement"Lures are a case of showing what you might be prepared to offer to get the result you want. Back in the restaurant, if you can't catch the waiter's eye to order, you could try dropping a 5 note on the floor. Hopefully he'll come dashing over to pick it up, and while he's there you can ask for your drinks. This is a lure.The difference between lures and rewards/bribes are that you might not have to part with them at all. You could snatch the 5 off the floor as the waiter reaches you, put it back in your wallet and still order your drinks. Of course, it won't work for long if you do this every time!Lures are useful for showing dogs what you want. You can reward a dog for sitting on command once s/he knows what "sit" means, but at first you need a way to make the connection between the word and the action. Holding food or a toy just above his/her nose and moving it upwards and backwards will "lure" your dog into the sit position. Then you can say "sit" and give him the toy or food, which has now become a reward.


But Remember -Like the waiter, your dog won't

keep responding to a lure if it never becomes a reward