Dog training is an intricate balance of timing, communication and reinforcement. You need to be able to tell your dog when they’re doing what you want them to be doing at the exact moment they’re doing it. You can do this with just one word.
You use a marker word to tell your dog that they’re doing the right thing, and it is always followed by a reward. Think of your marker word as a big green “tick” next to their behaviour. When learning something new, your dog starts to understand that whenever they hear this word they receive reinforcement, and so are able to associate whatever they’re doing at that time as the behaviour that earns them a reward.
Your marker word needs to be something short and sharp that you are able to say similarly each time you use it. It should also differ from your normal voice, and not come up too often in regular conversation. You want your marker word to be reserved specifically for training only, and to ensure that it’s only ever used when a reward will follow.
Charge your Marker
Teach your dog that the marker word means reinforcement every single time. You want your marker to be highly charged, so that every time your dog hears it they know that whatever they’re doing in that moment is earning them something they love.
Say your word “Yes!” “Good!” etc.
Give your dog reward (treat, toy, affection etc)
Repeat until your dog hears the marker word and is expecting reward
Using your Marker in Training
Dog performs desired behaviour
Say your marker at the exact moment your dog is doing what it is that you’re looking for
Follow immediately with reward
Repeat the above steps until your dog has grasped the new behaviour
Once your dog understands the new behaviour, adding a verbal cue allows you to instruct your dog to use their new skill when you need to. For when and where to introduce a verbal cue to your dog’s new behaviour see our FREE Lockdown Training Guide: USING A MARKER and explore all of our Lockdown Training Guide Episodes HERE!