Reinforcement drives behavior, right? What if your dog cares what type of reinforcement they get and likes some more than others? What if specific types of reinforcement carry different arousal/excitement and you can take advantage of that in your training, whether sports skills or for general behaviors? And in the meantime, how about adding clarity to where and how to collect the reinforcement, something that highly motivated toy dogs could definitely benefit from.
We’ve all been using a clicker or a verbal word like Yes to mean “collect reinforcement” to our dog. Now let’s think about slicing up that clicker and making it more concise and clear to your learner dog. Having verbal cues that tell your dog where to collect reinforcement and what exactly that reinforcement is can be so mind blowing and complicated for the handler, but it clears things up and makes things so much simpler for the dog! The dog can devote their entire concentration to listening to you and performing the behavior skills instead of watching your physical motions as predictors of where and when the reward is coming. A side benefit of teaching and using this concept is that it incorporates “switching reinforcement” and also teaches “no”. If yes means “food from the hand”, it also means not food on the ground, or the ball on the chair, or that other dog over there, extending all the way up to “Not that deer”! Teaching your dog this concept with reinforcement you control can only benefit your training in sport and real life skills that often bring about interactions with reinforcement you cannot control.