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Make Training Easy With Marker Words For Dogs

a springer spaniel puppy sitting whilst looking upwards at their human with the caption marker words for training

Anyone who has ever trained a dog knows that it can be a difficult process. There are so many commands to learn and remember, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But with the help of marker words for dogs, training can be a lot easier.

In this article, we’ll discuss what marker words are and how to use them effectively in your training regimen. We’ll also provide some tips for getting started. So if you’re looking for an easy way to train your dog, read on!

Contents of this article.

  1. What does the term “marker word” mean in dog training?
  2. Why is a marker word important?
  3. How to use a marker word.
  4. How to teach your dog the marker word.
  5. What are the benefits of using marker words for dogs?

What does the term “marker word” mean in dog training?

What is a marker word? Marker words help communicate to the dog that they have done the right thing and will be rewarded for it. Using the marker word should be followed by a food reward, which motivates the dog to continue performing the desired behavior.

By using a marker word, we can let the dog know exactly when they have done something correctly, which helps them learn more quickly and effectively.

A marker word lets the dog know they are on the right track and will help them to learn the behavior faster. Using a marker word is a great way to reinforce desired behavior and build a bond with your dog.

Why is a marker word important?

Marker words are an important part of dog training because they let the dog know exactly when they’ve done something right. This clear communication is essential for teaching new behaviors and refining existing ones.

A marker word is also known as a bridge. This is because it bridges the time lag between your pooch performing the correct behavior and when we are able to deliver the reward.

Some trainers use a clicker instead of a marker word. This is known as clicker training. Using a marker word works on the exact same simple concept.

Markers in training are not just for dogs. The beauty of marker training is that it can be applied to any animal.

Trainers of sea mammals use a whistle as a marker. e.g. You will see the animal perform a trick, such as targeting a ball with their nose. At the precise moment the animal performs the behavior, the trainer blows the whistle to tell them they’ve done a good job and then throws them a fish reward from their bait bag.

How to use a marker word.

There are a few things you’ll need before you can start using a marker word.

First, you’ll need to choose your marker word. Keep it short, easy to understand and something you don’t already use in another context with your dog. I use “Good”, but “Nice” and “Yes” are also great marker words.

Secondly, you’ll need a way to reward Fido when he makes a good choice. This could be handler praise, petting, playing a game of tug or another toy reward, or a food treat.

How to teach your dog the marker word.

This is the first step in training your dog what the marker word means. Just say the word – then give them a food reward straight away!

They don’t have to do anything at this foundation stage. Your dog will learn the word means “food is coming” so they get a positive association with the word. This step is called “charge the mark” – you are charging the marker word.

Repeat this 10 times so your dog understands.

Later, once your dog has learned the meaning of the marker word, you can use it when your dog makes a good choice.

For example, if your dog is in the learning process of how to sit on cue, start by luring them into the correct position. The instant the dogs butt hits the floor, say your marker word and give them their treat (also known as “mark and reward”).

Correct timing of the marker word is key to helping the dog know exactly why he’s receiving his reward so he knows he’s performed the behavior correctly and will offer it again.

We can also use a marker word when dogs spontaneously offer behaviors that we would like to see more of. This is known as “capturing”.

Remember – that which gets rewarded, gets repeated!

What are the benefits of using marker words for dogs?

There are several benefits to using a marker word. This helps your dog:

  1. Understand what you want from him.
  2. Make better choices in the future.
  3. Connect with you.
  4. Stay motivated and engaged during a formal training exercise session.

Dog training is essential for a happy and healthy relationship. Using a verbal marker as part of your training program can be a great way to help them understand new commands.

Trained dogs are enjoyable to be around, so teach your pooch useful new behaviors in an efficient way with the power of marker training.

I first read about marker training in Karen Pryor’s ground-breaking book “Don’t Shoot the Dog”, and it has helped so many of my clients to add clarity and speed up their training. The book is just as relevant now as it was when it was published, so if you haven’t read it, grab yourself a copy.

Check out this post if you’re wondering what are the best dog treats for training when teaching your dog using marker words.

I hope you found this article useful. If you want to explore marker training further, why not check out this online course by Canine Principles.

For more dog training tips, head to our Training category page.

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A variety of dog accessories including a bowl of dry dog food, a collar and leash and a ball


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