Lure vs. Bribe vs. Reward

What is the difference between a lure, bribe and reward when we’re talking about dog training? It might not seem important, but how you use your treats during dog training has a huge impact on your overall success and ability to rely on your obedience even when treats aren’t present.

What is a lure?

A lure is when we use a treat to guide the dog into position. For example, raising the treat above the dog’s nose to get her to sit is considered a lure. Using a treat lure during the learning stage is incredibly helpful! It gives us a way to show the dog what position we’re looking for and associate the behavior with the cue. Once the dog starts understanding the verbal cue, we want to start fading the lure as soon as possible to avoid getting stuck there. Once we’ve faded the lure, we move to using treats as rewards instead!

What is a reward?

A reward is the treat that your dog gets AFTER she’s done what we’ve asked. Rewards should be out of sight (in a treat pouch, in your pocket, etc) until time to give out. Rewards don’t always have to be food and can be toys, playtime, a chance to go outside, etc. In the beginning, don’t be stingy with your rewards. As the dog gradually gets better, you can start rewarding at random. Rewards are used to reinforce behaviors that your dog already knows and increase reliability.

What is a bribe?

Last but not least, the bribe. We want to avoid using a bribe. If you shake your treat box to get your dog to come to you, you’re bribing him. If you have to show your dog a treat before he’ll listen to you, you’re most likely bribing him. If you’re bribing your dog to do anything for you, it’s going to be very challenging to eliminate treats from your training. Your dog most likely will act like he’s never heard your commands before when the treats are gone.


We highly recommend using treats as lures and rewards throughout the training process, just be careful not to get caught in a bribing situation!



Set up your FREE consultation today. Check out our Facebook page at