Why yummy food may not be the answer for your Romanian/overseas rescue.

Reasons why luring your anxious fearful dog may backfire.

Luring……….. Why I am not a fan when used for nervous anxious/rescue dogs.

Lets start of by defining what LURING is

Luring is when you guide your dog by holding a treat in front of their nose. The most effective way to use luring is to use the food lure to steer the dog into the desired position for the first few attempts, then transition the luring motion into a hand signal, and then add a verbal cue.

I do actually use this method when I am teaching a new behaviour, and it works really well, but it doesn’t help with your dog's emotional state.


  • I know when you have that timid, anxious dog arrive in your home, you are so eager to make friends.

  • So eager for them to come out from their safe place,

  • So eager for them to go into the garden.

  • So eager for them to come and be stroked.

Because of course you want your new rescue to feel loved and safe.

So you bring out the tastiest sausage, chicken or even steak and try to lure your dog to come closer, to leave their safe place, to go out into the garden.

Yummy food can backfire

So let's have a think about how the dog might be feeling at this moment. (actually some dogs may be fine and that chicken was just what was needed)

Some dogs may feel really conflicted, they want the yummy food, but are really scared. Then they find themselves close to that scary thing, and really don’t want to be there.

scared dog

If, for example, 

you had a real phobia of spiders, and I offered you £1000 to hold one. You may say OK, a £1000 is a lot of money. But did that £1000 take away your phobia ? How would you be feeling during and after this happened? I can explain to you that it is only a small harmless spider and that you have only to hold it for a second. I promise it won’t hurt you, then I will take it away.

Sadly we cannot have that talk with our dogs,, they learn to feel safe by learning to trust.

Yes you may be £1000 richer now. Maybe you will use it to book some talking therapy.

Our savvy dogs realise that you are trying to get them to do something that they are really scared of. That can make it so difficult to build that bond that we are so eager to create.

Also we need those yummy high value rewards , but will use them in a different way.


Our savvy dogs now see the rewards as poison. And they certainly don’t view them as high value, they mean unsafe. They know you are trying to trick them.

A little case study.

Dog is scared of going into the car, so the lovely adopter was really trying to let him know it was ok. Lots of nice chicken in there.

It wasn’t working.


Because of what I have stated above. Those yummy rewards just don’t take away that fear.

Now the dog won’t go anywhere near the car, never mind jump in it.

(We do need to work out what has caused the fear, in this case, there was a loud noise when the dog was in the car)

So we needed to break it down.

And actually give the dog the choice to come close to the car.

Any step closer was rewarded by throwing a reward away from the car.

Not luring, or bribing, it was his choice to come closer.

Taking away the fear, and making it all about his choice works. His reward was him being able to move away.

Short sessions, gradually taking smaller steps to getting into the car.

Building that trust, and the dog knowing he can move away.

Remember every dog is different, but they need to feel safe to learn. Always go at their pace, it may be slow,but you will get there quicker.

If you are struggling please book a free phone call and see how I can help you and your dog.

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Categories: : Anxious/nervous dogs, Romanian Rescue