We all know it is often easier to get your dog to do a behaviour with a lure in your hand. The lure definitely has a time and place where it is valuable and useful. Here are perfect examples of when to use a lure.
The dog is LEARNING NEW SKILLS and needs a little guidance.
The dog is DISTRACTED and needs to focus to do the behaviour.
Often time we use a lure to guide the dog into a position like a sit/down or even to follow when walking and while these are great ways to jump-start behaviours we also don't want to rely on the lure forever. Even in your first few training sessions, you should easily be able to fade the lure from use.
Here is an example, you have successfully lured a sit several times, now, PRETEND you have the lure and do the skill again. When your dog succeeds mark and reward. They may have thought the treat was in your hand, but you will have to get it from your pocket or pouch. You can alternate between having the treat in your hand and pretending until the dog makes the connection between the hand signal and the reward to follow.
Now the most important step is getting the rewards not only out of your hand but OFF of your body completely! Start by placing your rewards on a raised surface like a counter, table or chair where your dog is not allowed to get them. You can even tease with one and place it back up on the counter. Then ask your dog to perform the skill (you can pretend lure at first to get through the transition) and then mark and grab the reward off of the counter.
Once your dog will work with you near the counter. Take a step or two away and work the skill again, mark and walk to the counter to get the cookie. Build up more distance away from the reward and over time you will also build up multiple behaviours before getting the reward. This way your dog learns that you will go get the reward, even if it is not in your hand or readily on your body after the skill has been performed.
During times when there are a lot of distractions or you are in a new environment or challenging behaviour is being asked for, you may have to offer some support, do a lure of two and then transition back to getting the cookies off your body, but the more you practice these skills the faster they will work for you in new environments.
Another great way to help develop this is to have a few areas around the house where you stash some treat jars. So you can easily reward good choices no matter when and where you are!
It doesn't always need to be food either! You have other ways to reward, some dogs love affection and belly rubs, and others love to play with a toy. Shake up your rewards! But make sure it is something your dog TRULY wants at that moment!