Marker Training 101

ZiggyTeaching your dog new tricks and commands should be fun for you and your pup.  Training should begin as young as possible and will continue throughout the life of your dog.  When a puppy is young, it is best to use a system of training called marker training. Marker training is a form of clicker training, but without the clicker.  At Sublime K9 Dog Training, we have found that many clients do not follow through with clicker training because of the need for a clicker at all times as well as treats.  To make it easier for success for all, we use a word (yes) instead of a clicker to train our pups.

Marker training is named so because we use a sound to mark the behavior that we desire.  When training your dog, it is important to have good timing to reward the behavior that you want.  Sometimes when we are rewarding a dog with just treats, our timing can be off.  We may fumble with the treat pouch or drop the treat and then we miss the moment that we want the dog to remember and repeat.  To prevent this from happening, we use a sound and then deliver a treat.  To get started, you would “charge the mark”.  That means that you are going to teach your dog that the sound you have chosen means that he will get a treat.  To do this you simply say “yes” and then follow with a treat.  You will repeat this until you are sure that your dog understands that when he hears that sound, he has done something right and will get a reward.

One your dog looks excited to hear that word you have chosen or sound you can begin training.  Choose a command or trick of your choice.  You can use the treat as a lure in the beginning to try and get your dog to perform the behavior you are looking for, but once your dog understands the game, he may just begin offering different behaviors and all you have to do is mark them.  For example, you say sit, and your dog’s rear hits the floor.  You immediately mark the behavior and give the reward.

Remember that repetition is key to learning anything new.  So keep practicing and make sure that your dog masters one command before moving on to the next.  If you want some help, call us at (631) 241-6482!