I would say your natural tendencies and inclinations to stay at this level are spot on. For now.
There are alternatives we will suggest that involve removing the visual aids, but when possible we like to allow the opportunity for the dog to have that ‘a-ha!’ moment as it will make the skill learned more ingrained as this stage of training is really about solid foundations.
Pay very close attention and see if she gives any other subtle clues or even inhales over/near any of the boxes as opposed to acting like it is a slapping game.
Did you happen to have taken any short videos of even one pass at the boxes. I have an idea you can try which may help her make the connection, but it would be good to see her in action first.
Here’s the scenario however if you want to try:
You will need 3 scent boxes/hides, one truffle odor target. This exercise is all done in one session.
Start by playing the scent imprinting game. After a few successful nose or paw targets, place the scent tin on the ground nearby close enough for Ten to easily get to it without much movement. Ask Ten to find the target. When she does, reward. Do this a few times.
After the last successful find where she can see the target and alerts on it while it is in close proximity to her, now place a box on top of it (or the target inside the box depending on your set up) and ask her to locate it again. This is all done with her watching you.
If she does that, great. Reward. Then lift the box off of the target, ask her to locate, she does, reward. Then place the box back on top of the target, ask her to locate, if she does, reward.
We are trying to make her ask the question ‘why is that one box so special?’
Now lay down the other boxes on either side of the one you are working with. Remove the box that is currently covering the truffle odor, and ask Ten to locate the truffle odor. When she does, reward. Then place the box back on top of the scent tin, and ask Ten again to locate. Ideally she will still keep hitting on the same spot as you haven’t moved anything around really. After she does this, you will now have 3 boxes in a row with the middle one containing the scent odor that she has been hitting on positively. Now you can start walking her down the row and only rewarding on the middle box which is the one hiding truffle odor.
Keeping your truffle odor target under the same one, keep rewarding her for hitting on that one special box. Then you can progress from there to walking her down the row and only rewarding on the ‘special’ box. After that, you should be able to move the location of the hot target and have her alert with success.
Try it, but also shoot us a video, even a short clip so we can see your set up. It will help us know what to focus on to help you problem solve.