Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun

Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun

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.

 

Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Mosaic of hunter and dogs, Villa Romana del Casale, Italy, early 4th century AD

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.

Modern lure coursing, video by Alister Sanderson

 

Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Not surprisingly, people with different breeds of dogs have figured out a small-scale way of offering this kind of play and exercise for their dogs. Dogs that are less suitable to work with other dogs when chasing faux prey (many terriers) work wonderfully with a hand-held lure that can be practiced individually. Not only that, but condensing this fun game into the hand-held toy form offers handlers the opportunity to use it not only as an exercise activity — but also as a reward in-between training sessions or for any job well done. Some dogs love playtime more than food, so this activity can be used as a highly motivating reward.
Bring on the toy of many names: Homemade versions are often called “flirt poles,” which are sturdy versions of this type of toy long popular among pitbull owners. Commercially-made versions are aplenty, all with different product names. Miles and I have tried several commercially-made lure toys, and our favorite so far is the “tail teaser.” I like this one because Miles is drawn to the lure rather than the pole (yes – that can be a problem with the ever-observant terrier group).

 

Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
  • 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.
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
  • 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.
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home FunLuring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home FunLuring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun
Ready-Made Lure Pole Toy:
More About Prey Drive:

 

More About Lure Coursing:
Training Articles:

3 comments on Luring: Canine Instinct, History, and at-Home Fun

  • Anth

    You went Miles fishing? AWESOMES!

  • Emma (author)

    Exactly Anth!

  • Run Dog Run

    We played the lure on a stick game frequently with your young Airedale and he loved it. When he got older, we found someone with a lure machine and once again, he loved chasing the lure. We decided to purchase our own set of lure equipment and have since started a lure chasing business so all dogs can enjoy chasing lures without the competition normally required with most sighthound only clubs. Dogs are getting quality exercise and releasing pent up physical and mental energy. Local trainers have been recommending us like crazy. http://www.rundogrun.us. It's amazing how many dogs love to chase. Some are fast, some slow, some big, and some small, but all with the same instinct. I think the owners enjoy watching their dogs run just as much as the dogs love what they are doing.

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