Marker Training

09/02/2022

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MARKER TRAINING

A marker is a distinct sound that is used to pinpoint desirable actions that your dog offers during training sessions. It can be a short word that you don’t say in everyday life or you can use a clicker. A marker identifies to your dog exactly when they are doing the right thing and predicts the arrival of a reward. Dogs will repeat behaviors that are rewarded and lessen behaviors that offer no benefit. They start to think about what they were doing at the time of the marker and offer the same behaviour again.

Timing of the marker is really important! Think of it like the shutter on your camera. You want to take a picture that will show the perfect behaviour. Too soon and your dog hasn’t done it yet; too late and your dog is doing something else. Working on your timing by yourself, before training with your dog will make your training so much smoother!

You need to teach your dog what the marker sound means. You are going to say your marker and then deliver a treat to your dog’s mouth right away. Repeat this sequence over and over for about 20 repetitions.

When your dog has made the link between the marker and food arriving, you may notice them getting excited or looking to your hand expectantly when they hear the sound. This is great and means you can start to use it in training. Simply wait for your dog to offer something you like – perhaps sitting or looking at you, before immediately marking and rewarding.

Before long, your dog will be volunteering all sorts of behavior in an attempt to get you to mark and reward. Reinforce the things you like and ignore those you don’t.

This way of learning is empowering for your dog as it encourages them to think for themselves and happily try new behaviours. It builds problem solving skills and helps them develop a better understanding of what works and doesn’t work in the world around them.

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