No Stinkin' Leashes Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: SF Bay Area
It's not clear if you're adding a verbal cue to the lure that you're already doing or using it instead of. "Adding" sounds like you're doing both, which is what you should be doing, as Michelle describes above.
My progression is first to lure with a treat. I do this ONLY as long as I need to, then I transition to using the lure motion as a hand signal but without a treat in that hand. I still mark and reward, but with the other hand. Once that is reliable, I add the verbal cue. You want to use it before you use the hand motion, not at the same time or afterwards. Say the cue, wait a beat, then do your hand signal. The reason for this is that the verbal cue, which he doesn't know yet, becomes a predictor to the hand signal, which he does, and helps to associate the word with the behavior. I start extending that time between the two as the puppy starts to get the concept, so I may wait a couple of seconds after using the verbal cue, then as that step becomes successful, a few seconds more, basically starting to fade out the hand signal in favor of compliance with just the verbal cue.
Like Michelle, I also make a big deal out of it when the puppy gets it without assistance from a hand signal - lots of enthusiastic praise, several treats in succession. But don't rush that step, he may do it once and then take a little while before he does it every single time. Be patient and wait him out, but if it takes too long go ahead and occasionally give him a reminder of what the word means. Don't be in a hurry to fade out food rewards at any level of this process.
Also, even after he's consistently responding to the verbal cue alone in familiar, low distraction environments, he may still need some help in more distracting environments. I started agility classes with Dena when she was just over a year old. I had spent a lot of time training her by then and she did very well at home and in indoor classes, but this was outdoors on grass. Oh, the interesting smells! Even though she would immediately sit with a verbal cue pretty much anywhere else, I did have to lure her into a sit a few times at first because that was a novel and more challenging situation for her. With higher difficulty you may need to temporarily lower your criteria and increase your rate of reinforcement. This is not a step backwards.
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short