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Marking the Way to Success: The Magic of Marker Training

Marker training harnesses the power of positive reinforcement. It is a popular and effective method of dog training that emphasizes clear communication between the trainer and the dog.

Marker signals act as a bridge between your dog's behavior and their reinforcement, letting them know that they have done something right and a reward is on the way.


A marker can be any distinctive sound or signal that is used to indicate to the dog that they have performed a desired behavior correctly. The most common marker used in dog training is the "clicker," which produces a distinct clicking sound when pressed. Another common marker is using our voice to say "yes" in a cheery tone.


Markers help us precisely reward behaviors as they happen so the dog clearly understands which behavior earned the reward.

 

The First Two Steps to Begin Marker Training


Step 1: Pick a Marker

You can use a clicker OR pick a sound to make with your voice ("YES!" is commonly used)

Pick a sound that is not otherwise frequently heard by your dog.


Step 2: Charge Your Marker

Click or say your marker word and immediately deliver a treat to your dog's mouth.

Repeat this 8-12 times in a row, delivering one treat at a time. Repeat this 3-4 times per day, for several days.

 

Your dog will soon associate the sound of your marker with the reward, and will start to pay close attention to the sound.


Once your dog is responding to the marker, you can use it to mark behaviors that you would like to reinforce. When teaching new cues like 'sit' or 'down', you can make your marker sound as they perform the desired behavior and quickly follow-up with their reward.


This way your dog more easily learns which behaviors will earn them positive reinforcement from you!



 

About the Author: Ashley Diaz is a dedicated pet owner and animal lover with over 10 years of experience providing professional pet care. With certifications in applied animal behavior & training, she shares her knowledge and insights on pet ownership, behavior, and welfare in her blog. Outside of her work with animals, Ashley enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, practicing yoga and playing the piano.


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