From Lure to Offered Behavior

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#1
I've built myself a lure trap...

I have been teaching Marsh to sit up and beg ("stick 'em up!") and if I have a treat in my hand he can sit up and nibble at it for a couple of seconds, if I just use a hand signal he can sit up for a second, but if I don't use a hand signal at all he can't make the leap to offering the behavior on his own.

I think part of the problem is he always wants to touch my hand when he sits up, so if I try to fade the hand signal he will stand up on his back legs to touch it anyway instead of settling down on his haunches. Suggestions?
 

lizzybeth727

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#2
I've built myself a lure trap...

I have been teaching Marsh to sit up and beg ("stick 'em up!") and if I have a treat in my hand he can sit up and nibble at it for a couple of seconds, if I just use a hand signal he can sit up for a second, but if I don't use a hand signal at all he can't make the leap to offering the behavior on his own.

I think part of the problem is he always wants to touch my hand when he sits up, so if I try to fade the hand signal he will stand up on his back legs to touch it anyway instead of settling down on his haunches. Suggestions?
Ok, I think you have two options here:

1.) Systematically fade the lure. Start with a treat in your hand but don't let him eat it; when he does the behavior, click and treat with your other hand. This will start to teach him that the treat-lure is not important. Then it will be much easier to remove the treat altogether and still get the same behavior. When you are ready to remove the treat, do it gradually: two trials with the treat, one without, two with, two without, etc. If, after a few reps, you see a noticible difference between performance when you have the treat and when you don't, it means you're not fading it gradually enough.

Eventually you will get to where you don't need a treat in your hand at all, but at that point you'll still be using your hand as a cue. So then you'll have to gradually fade your hand as a cue: move your hand 1/8" away from his nose, then 1/4" away, then 1/2", etc. VERY gradually. You can also do these in a yo-yo pattern: a couple easy ones close to his nose, then a hard one a good distance away, then a couple more easy ones. You don't want him to figure out that it will get harder and harder each time. And again, if the behavior changes as your hand signal changes, you're going too fast and will need to back it back up.

This method works, but it takes a lot of time.

One important mistake a lot of trainers make when trying to fade the treat lure is to give the hand signal without the treat, and then when the dog doesn't do it, they pull out a treat and try again. The problem, of course, is that the dog will learn that he doesn't need to try it until he sees a treat. So if you give the signal without the treat and he doesn't do the behavior, you can either try recuing without the treat again, or just walk away and try again later, with a treat.

2.) The other option is to "capture" the behavior, with the help of the luring you've already done. Do several (5-10 or so) very quick trials of luring him up. Again, make the trials REALLY QUICK, don't work on duration of the hold, just focus on getting him to move to position.

Think of it kind of like a "Simon Says" game: You know how you can't really notice the "Simon says" part if the person gives the instructions really fast? You're only thinking about what to do next, not what preceeds it. Same thing here, you want him only thinking about his behavior and nothing else, and expecting that you're going to want him to do the behavior again and again.

Once you get him into a really good pattern, don't give the lure. Just wait and see if he'll do ANYTHING on his own. Even if it's a whimpy little hop, go ahead and click him for offering something that sort of resembles the behavior. Then go back to luring again; do another 5-10 reps and then wait and see if he'll offer something.

Eventually, most dogs make the connection between the behavior they're doing with the lure and the behavior you want them to do when you didn't give the lure.

Luring stinks. This is why I rarely use luring anymore. I believe it's Kathy Sdao who said that if you have to lure, you should only lure 5 trials before switching to shaping/capturing. IME it takes about 10-20 trials for most behaviors, but still. If the dog learns the lure TOO well, he'll come to rely on it.
 

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