Kunga was never treat-motivated, which posed a problem for us in the ring.  I could bring primo steak as bait to get him to pop those ears and lift his head, but he would ignore it completely in favor of looking around at all those pretty girls outside the baby gates. I was always a little jealous of people like my friend Liam, who told me that his boy Gus would eat a piece of paper if he Liam waved it in front of him!

Friends suggested a squeeky toy for bait, but that didn’t much help either.  I tried everything: cheese, liver, hot dogs, but nothing caught Kunga’s attention.  Not until he won a blue stuffed animal at a sweepstakes did I finally find something that he would really take an interest in.

Yes, Mom, I WOULD like that, please!

So we began to practice with his stuffy and the command, “ears!”  until he began to give me the look I wanted.  Then I began to tuck a treat into the tummy of the stuffed toy, and he associated the treat with the command.

This training eventually got him to bait.  The only bad thing is that when I want to give him a treat, I have to say “ears!”  My dogs now think that means “cookie.”

What tricks have you used to get your dog to take an interest in bait?

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  • Kathryn Kudron

    With my Dane Kes, we always managed to get ears by saying “Squirrel? Is that a squirrel over there?” It worked until she looked around and realized there were no squirrels to be found (especially inside LOL)! BTW – we taught this by always saying “squirrel” when she saw one on the fence. She had a high prey drive and always went on alert when she saw one…

  • Carla Rotunda

    Hmmm… Okay, I had one bitch, Sallie, who baited so well she would stand outside the ring and get handlers to toss her a piece of bait intended for the dog they were handling inside the ring… I was taught years ago to get the dog to focus on the movement…holding up a finger and wiggling it to get him to look, or spitting dry dog food out of my mouth to get them to “watch me”… In the end, they all learned the word “cookie” pretty quickly when I stood in the kitchen with the treat jar open! So in the ring, as I reach in my pocket for a piece of bait, I say “cookie”?…they all know what comes next! I find in the ring, young dogs don’t tend to focus, and even if well trained at home or outside the ring to bait, they give it up in the ring maybe because it is a different “stage”… I keep at it, and all my show dogs have eventually come around to looking for a “cookie” in or out of the ring….