Luring is not evil. You are not a bad person if you lure behaviors.
If you do a bad job of it....then you get your own set of problems.
Practice Following: We treat it as a magnet and fairly closely follow some of the notes in Agility Right From the Start book on "treat transport". The dog should be licking-sniffing the treat the whole way. If his tongue is not on your hand, your had is too far away. Move slow enough so that he can be licking the whole time. This will allow you to carefully control and refine his movements.
Select For Your Behavior, Reinforce Approximations: If you are getting a down...you may release the treat when you see shoulders drop. A few repetitions later, release the treat when elbows hit the floor. And after a few reps of that...release the treat when the back end hits the ground.
Get A Good Behavior: There's some crazy popularized rule to "lure 3 times then no more food in the lure hand" . I've not found that to be a good rule to follow. I use food in the hand until the dog is -immediately- getting into position, efficiently getting into position, and I have the shape of the behavior I want. Then...some reps with no food in the hand, but same motion, feeding treats as soon as the dog responds.
Cue Transfer: At that point... New Cue (verbal or signal), pause, old cue (lure hand with no food in it). Reward.
Should I Use a Clicker? I often don't. But sometimes I have students...this helps them be exact about when to release the food. Otherwise they like to as for too much, too soon.
When to Lure? There are a few places where I am pretty happy and enthusiastic about using a lure: Fold back downs and kick back stands. I have ways to shape and get that down, but nothing great for the kick back stands. I'm not a targeting enthusiast..... but that could be another option. I feel like I can refine movements better with the lure than with a target stick.
I have students lure some behaviors...downs, stands, sometimes sits. On occasion, I let them get away with luring around cones and that sort of thing. It depends on their ultimate goals and what my goal is for the specific lesson.
Luring is Horrible! I've read a few really offensive things recently.... luring really isn't that horrible. It has a few advantages over other ways to get behavior. It has disadvantages. If luring is used well...it doesn't mean someone is a poor trainer or cheating or whatever else. And I feel quite strongly about that. At the same time, I'm still sometimes feeling guilty for luring behaviors!
Seminar weekend..... I'm going to have too much to say about it, provided I understand what's said!