Reward Markers




A marker is a distinct sound that is used to pinpoint desirable actions that your puppy offers during training sessions. The marker identifies to your puppy exactly when they are doing the right thing and predicts the arrival of a reward. Puppies 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.

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

Once your puppy knows the cue for a final behavior you don’t need to continue to use it for that behaviour.

Markers can be a short word that you don’t say in everyday life or you can use a clicker.

Before you start to train with your marker, be sure to practice a few sessions on your own without your puppy so you can work on the mechanics of using a clicker/saying a marker word and delivering a treat. You want to practice your timing so that your marker happens at exactly the right moment. 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 puppy hasn’t done it yet; too late and your puppy is doing something else. Practice your timing by marking cars of a certain colour that pass by, or when a certain word is said in your tv show.

Next you need to teach your puppy what the marker sound means. You are going to say your marker word/click and then deliver a treat to your puppy’s mouth right away. Repeat the sequence over and over for about 20 repetitions. Some puppies may initially be startled by the strange sound of the clicker, so if you are using a clicker, muffle the sound a little by holding it behind your back to begin with.

When your puppy is getting the idea, you will notice that they get excited when they hear the marker, or even start to look at your treat hand when they hear the sound. This is great and means you can start to use it in training. Simply wait for your puppy to offer something desirable like eye contact, and immediately mark and reward.

Puppies understand cause-and-effect very quickly. Before long, your puppy will volunteer all sorts of behaviors in an attempt to get you to mark and reward.

Contact Us

Call us on 650 538 3011 or email YOUR peace of mind is JUST one phone call or email away.

    Articles you may be interested in