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Techniques Conditioning > Guiding

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



A way of getting the subject to complete an action is to physically move them in the desired way.

Gently guide the subject to the desired position, such as pushing down a dogs backside to move it to a sit position. If a gentle movement does not work, do not push hard. Rather, get the subject used to being manhandled, such as with 'rough and tumble' play that they enjoy.

Guiding can also be done with a lure, holding a reward in front of the subject such that it moves towards the reward. Then move the lure in the direction required. Start by giving the reward for a small movement and gradually increase the amount of movement that is needed before the reward is given.

You can also guide by calling the subject, especially if they will come to you on a given cue. Another way is with a training lead, giving them gentle tugs to encourage movement in the right direction.


An agility trainer teaches a dog to weave between sticks by holding a piece of food in front of them and moving it in and out of the sticks.

A parent picks up a young child to lay them in bed while saying 'time for bed'. The child soon is trying to go to bed themself when the parent says 'time for bed'.


For physical guiding to work, the subject must be comfortable with being touched. If they do not like this, they may focus on escaping, fighting back or just resisting being moved. In such cases, physical guiding in this way may have to be abandoned and another method sought.

When using a reward, the subject needs to be confident that all they need to do is to 'the right thing' to get the reward. If not, they may just get confused and anxious.

If you hold a food reward too close to a dog, there may be a good chance they will grab at it, possibly biting you in the process. Due care is consequently needed. It also means you should know your dog and use an alternative method as required.

See also



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