I like to use food as a lure to help teach dogs new behaviors. I also use food when prompting a dog to reposition a foot in the show ring. So, in the case of a show dog the food is used as a lure in training, but may still be used later on to help communicate to the dog while in the show ring. When people are just getting started on this, I like to have them practice “power steering with food”. I want them to practice and experiment with using food to lure the dog into different positions.

It is important to understand that when using food to lure the dog the food is generally very close to the dog’s face. The position of the dog’s head is going to “drive” the other parts of the dog’s body. By luring the dog you are able to control and manipulate the dog’s head in a way that can communicate to him which foot you want him to move and in what direction.

In general, when steering the head to change the foot position, think of opposites. For instance, if you want the dog to move his left front foot forward, you will need to lure him very slightly forward while turning his head to the right. Try doing that now. Take a piece of food and put it right in front of your dog’s nose, pull the food forward and to the dog’s slight right and he should move his left foot forward.

When you are working with back feet, it is also opposite. When you want the dog to step back with his left rear leg you must step into him with your left leg. Stepping in with your left foot will prompt his left rear to move back also.

Try experimenting with this. Play around with getting the dog to step his front foot forward and his rear feet back. See what happens when you use food to lure the dog’s head which will direct the rest of his body. Doing this will allow you to train the behaviors of “step” and “back” so that your dog can help to reposition himself when you cue him to. It is a beautiful thing when you can communicate clearly to a dog exactly what part of his body you need him to move and where and he does it.




Vicki Ronchette is the founder of Show Dog Prep School and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Vicki has been working with dogs professionally for over 30 years as a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, groomer and veterinary assistant. She is the author of Positive Training for Show Dogs, From Shy to Showy and Ready? Set. SHOW! Vicki presents workshops and seminars all over the country on how training show dogs.