Thursday, August 12, 2010

Clicker or Marker training

Here is a positive and motivating way you can teach your dog pretty much anything. It takes some patience and consistency, but is great fun for both you and your dog. Basically, you use a simple "yep" or "yes" as a marker for the behavior that you want. The key to marking behavior and developing a new behavior with this method is rewarding each small step and only requiring a small step into the behavior before it is rewarded, building more and more on what you actually are wanting them to do. You use your "marker" word to let them know exactly what you wanted. The dog will learn to associate the "marker" word with incoming food or other means of reward. Say "yep!" or "yes!" so they know it is right and then reinforce it with praise, a treat, or a toy (whatever it is that makes them excited and it a high motivator for them). For example, if you want your dog to touch something with their nose, you first reward them simply for looking at the thing you want them to touch (just wait until they naturally do it) then you reward that multiple times until they get the idea that if they look at it, they get a treat. Next, you would reward them for taking a step towards the object, do that multiple times then reward them for taking two steps...etc etc you probably get the idea. Only work for short periods of time with each task so you don't burn your dog out. You want your dog wanting more at the end of the training session so he is more happy to learn more. Don't expect too much too soon as this can frustrate dogs or discourage them. If used properly and with a positive attitude, this technique makes dogs love to learn anything and this method is very positive and motivating for dogs, it is also useful for adapting to any new behavior you want them to do and really fun for both the dog and for you! (warning: this method may increase your bond with your dog and make you want to teach your dog new things all the time)

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