When we first start out clicker training, we tend to get very excited about the fact that we can teach the dog a new behavior in just a few clicks. Suddenly we have a dog that sits, does a belly flop down, a spin, a paw wave, and six other things-but all at once. You're hoping for a sit/stay, and the dog is running through his entire repertoire trying to find something you'll click.
On May 18, readers of the New York Times were treated to a front-page story on mine-sniffing Gambian giant pouched rats. The reporter, Michael Wines, traveled to Mozambique to discover the latest breakthrough in mine detection technology: a squad of rats, outfitted in tiny harnesses and hitched to 10-yard clotheslines. When the rats catch the scent of TNT, the give-away for a buried landmine, they deliberately scratch the earth.
Sit on the couch. Put a paper or plastic cup on the floor. Now, using clicker and treats but not throwing the treats near the cup, can you get your dog to knock the cup over and knock it around the room? Try it!
Train two behaviors at once? Teach two cues simultaneously? How? Why? Teaching certain cues in pairs can speed up the learning process, as well as teaching a dog a concept that it can apply to new learning.
Some trainers differentiate between training the pet dog and training the performance animal-the dog used for search and rescue, police work, hunting and field trials, or as a service dog for the disabled. The view seems to be that the performance dog must be trained with special methods, methods the pet doesn't need because it is only a pet.