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Dog Training Essentials: The Power of Reward Markers

Reward markers are a game-changer in dog training. These simple cues, like a clicker or a specific word, signal to your dog that they've done something right and that a reward is coming. Here's why they're so effective and how you can use them to train your furry friend.

I've worked with many dogs, and honestly feel those most engaged with training and quickest to learn are those whose owners use markers.

Why Reward Markers Work:

Immediate Feedback: Reward markers provide instant feedback to your dog, letting them know precisely what behavior earned them a reward. Your timing is important here, if you're delayed in using it, you may be marking a different behaviour to rhe one you're intending.

Clear Communication: They create clear communication between you and your dog, helping to strengthen the training bond. The easier it is for your dog to understand what you're after, the sooner the behaviour becomes one they can perform on cue.

Positive Reinforcement: By associating the marker with a reward, you're using positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors. You'll then see your dog focus quickly on you after hearing it.

How to Use Reward Markers:

Choose Your Marker: Decide on a sound or word to use as your reward marker. This could be a clicker, a specific word like "yes," or even a whistle. I personally use the word "yes" for a reward that is coming directly from me, and "get it" for a reward away e.g. ball on the floor. It needs to be a short sharp work or noise because you want it to be quick at the time of the behaviour occurring.

Timing is Key: Mark the desired behavior the instant it happens, then follow up with a reward. This helps your dog understand exactly what they did right. Delays will be confusing, for example if you're too late with your marker when loose lead walking and accidentally use it regularly when they pull, your dog is likely to think you want them to pull.

Consistency is Crucial: Use the marker consistently and always follow it with a reward. This helps your dog understand the association between the marker and the reward. If you only reward intermittently, it will lose value and your dog may ignore it around competing motivators.

Reward markers are a powerful tool in dog training. They provide clear communication, immediate feedback, and positive reinforcement, making the training process more effective and enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

Happy training!

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