Dogs with a strong prey drive are naturally drawn to fast moving objects. For many types of hunting dogs, the ability to recognize small moving objects and the internal drive to bolt instantly after prey has been critical to their work. Sighthounds were bred to hunt in packs, often with people and horses, and to follow the prey by sight (hence their name). Terriers were also bred to hunt for sport, and additionally, to be always on the lookout for vermin to eradicate. Historically, these pursuits were both for necessity (for food and protection of resources) and for upper class sporting pleasures.
In more recent times, people have developed a sport that tests and celebrates this natural instinct in dogs, but instead of using live prey, lures are used that mimic the movement of prey. There are two reasons for this: a lack of need to hunt this way, and the ability to practice the speed-driven sport in a fashion that is more organized and safe. Live prey is unpredictable and can lead dogs astray, sometimes into danger. Modern Lure Coursing is a competitive sport where a mechanically operated lure is zipped around a field. It is a recognized and widely practiced sport; however, many venues are currently restricted to specific breeds of (mostly sighthound) competitors.
- This kind of toy is interactive only, and must be stored out of reach when not in use.
- Play should be customized based on the body type and needs of the dog. This is not a good toy for elderly dogs, very young puppies, or for breeds of dogs that are extremely prone to joint problems.
- You can just dive into play sessions with the toy — but taking the time to incorporate some basic training (below) is very worthwhile. The type of dogs that love these toys the most are the types that benefit the most from training being a part of the lure toy game.
- Train your dog to wait to play until you give a release command. The opening of the game sequence can be: “Sit,” “Stay/Wait” … “Okay!/Take it!”
- “Drop it” or “Leave it” should immediately get the dog to release the toy. Train this by saying the command and immediately offering a small treat. Give hearty praise, and then resume the game (repeating the above sequence).
- A helpful demo can be viewed here.