Using Lures in Training
A lure is a piece of food that is used to elicit behavior. Its goal is to help the dog get into the right position to earn the click and treat. In beginning your career as a dog trainer, it is often frustrating and time consuming to wait for your dog to offer the right behavior. The use of a food lure gets things going.
The problem with food lures is that unless they are faded relatively quickly, the dog (and humans) become dependent upon them to perform the behavior. If lures are not faded, you will not have a trained dog that can perform behaviors on cue; you will have a trained dog that follows food.
As a general rule, lure the dog six times in a row. On the seventh repetition, do all the same motions with your body, but without the food lure in your hand. If the dog performs the behavior correctly, click and treat. If she doesn't perform the behavior correctly, go back and lure her six more times and try it again. This mini-drilling session trains the dog on how to perform the correct behavior, and it lets you see if she understands what she's being clicked for.
Do all dogs respond to lures?
For some dogs, lures present more of a distraction and a hindrance than a help. For such dogs, you should skip the lure altogether.
Your goal with using a food lure is to help the dog into position six times in a row. On the seventh repetition, try hiding the lure to see if the dog starts to offer the behavior on her own. When you take the lure out of your hand, you can start fading it gradually by putting it on a nearby table and running to get it after the click. The dog knows it's there and is excited about it but is not dependent on you waving it around to get her into the right position.
Using this method to wean your dog off of lures means that you get the dog to perform the behavior, click, and then run to get the treat. Doing this exercise will help your dog to learn that she is working for the click and the treat is an afterthought.