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Dog Training Tips: Let's Talk About Markers

What Are Markers in Dog Training?

There are two popular types of markers that are used in dog training. This is either to use a clicker or your voice saying 'yes'. Markers help you better communicate better with your dog. To me, a marker means my dog did exactly what I wanted and I am going to give them a reward for that. The reward can be either a treat or toy. It is very important that the marker is used on time. It should be used the second that you see the correct behavior in your dog. The reward can come later; whether that’s a few seconds later or 1 minute later.

In the beginning, it’s important to have the reward come closer to the marker so your dog recognizes that the marker and action is why they’re getting the reward. Overtime it’s okay if it takes you a second to get the reward for your dog. The marker is also a release. This means that your dog is allowed to get out of the command you are wanting when you use it.

Clicker or 'Yes'

I prefer to use the word yes as my marker. I do this because I don’t want to always have to have a clicker with me. However, a problem that can arise while using the word 'yes' is that you have to make sure you don’t accidentally and randomly say it during training. This is where a clicker can help. It is a lot easier for us as humans to use the clicker only when we mean to.

The Real World

Let’s talk about a real world example for using a marker. I use markers every time that I train any trick (although I also use them during obedience training, etc.) I use the treat to lure my dog into the trick position. I immediately mark with my voice saying 'yes' when my dog is in the position and reward them in that position with the treat. I don’t introduce the word yet because I just want my dog to get the action of the trick down. The marker helps my dog recognize that they are doing exactly what I wanted and that that is why they are getting rewarded. Once they have the action of the trick down, I’ll start introducing the word as I help them into the trick with luring. Overtime as my dog learns the trick, I can transition to no marker and to a released command with a reward. For other tricks I can continue to use a marker and reward them. It honestly just depends on the trick they are learning.

I'm curious! Do you use a marker during training? Let me know in the comments!

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