Dogs are wonderful companions. However, if they are untrained, then they can pose a lot of problems for you.
This is why training your dog is actually essential to not only your wellbeing, but theirs too. There are so many different methods of training dogs, with various methods, tools and techniques, that it can be hard to keep up.
One of the methods you may not have considered is called marker training. This is often referred to as clicker training, as it can be done with a small mechanical clicker that is used to communicate with the dog.
However, the clicker is not essential as this can be done with verbal markers rather than an actual clicker.
So, what exactly is marker training for dogs, why is it better, and what are the pros and cons? Let’s find out in our simple guide all about marker and clicker training.
What Is Marker Training For Dogs?
Marker training is a dog training method that allows a dog trainer or handler to communicate with the dog as soon as they do something good or that the trainer wants.
This therefore reinforces the behavior as fast as possible, and in a positive way to let the dog know when they are behaving correctly.
It is a non-punishment type of dog training that tells the dog the very instant that they do something wrong that you do not like.
By using a marker to reward the dog, you are able to demonstrate to them that what they are doing is right, and they will be rewarded for it to encourage them to keep doing it.
This keeps the dog motivated, focused on you and engaged with the training for better and faster results.
Marker training is also referred to as clicker training, and can even be started with pups as young as 8 weeks old, but it also works for older, more aggressive dogs with learned bad behaviors.
Because this type of training positively reinforces good behavior, it can be used on dominant or aggressive dogs, and can be used to retrain them, or provide younger dogs with training even if they have no prior experience at all.
Marker training can even be used on other animals such as horses, sea mammals and birds. This is because it is basically operant conditioning, which is how the wild animals at sea world have been trained.
Basically, this means that the training forms a connection between behavior and consequence. When a dog behaves well, the consequence is a high value reward, which is either a high value, tasty treat, or their favorite toy.
If the dog is not behaved, then the consequence is not a negative or aggressive one, it just means there is no reward.
This is enough to get them to work harder, and you do not have to punish or chastise them in any way. If the dog does not perform well, then there is no reward, and you have to repeat the exercise until they gain the reward.
In marker training, the reward has to come immediately after the good behavior for the dog to make that connection between good behavior and reward.
However, sometimes you cannot reward them as quickly as possible, so we use a bridge to connect the action to the reward.
This is the marker word, which can be something like Yes, or the sound of the clicker. This marker is what tells the dog that it is good behavior, and gives you time to get the treat to them to reward them.
You can also use a negative marker such as No, along with no reward, when the dog is not behaving in the manner you want. By repeating this process, the dog learns that when they do a certain action or behavior, they will hear the marker and get the reward.
They will also understand that when they do not behave well, they will hear the negative marker (No) and will not get a reward, and will have to repeat the training exercise again.
This will actually teach your dog to solve the problem themselves, and they may try other behaviors instead to see which ones get the rewards. They will then figure out for themselves which behaviors are good and bad.
This type of training is considered the best for teaching your dog right from wrong, building their confidence and independence, and creating a closer bond between dog and owner.
Is Marker Or Clicker Training Better?
Many people confuse marker and clicker training as one and the same thing, as they are so similar.
To be honest, they pretty much are the same, which is why so many people use the terms synonymously with one another. The only big difference is that with clicker training you use a clicker to mark your dog’s behavior.
Both clicker and marker training have the same principles, but with marker training, you are using a verbal marker, which is a specific word to mark your dog’s behavior.
The verbal marker has to be a short, specific word such as Click, or Yes as they are short, sharp and not something you say often in normal conversations, so your dog will not get confused.
Some dog trainers claim that training with a clicker is more beneficial and effective than marker training, but most dog owners will find that when done correctly, the results are pretty much the same. It all comes down to personal preference.
No matter whether you choose to use a clicker or a marker to correct your dog’s behavior, as long as you are experienced and aware of the best practices when it comes to training, you should have no problem training your dog.
Pros And Cons Of Clicker Training
Marker or clicker training is widely considered one of the best methods to train your dog, but let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of this technique.
- Training sessions can last longer as it is reward based, which keeps your dog’s attention and focus.
- One of the best ways to build a strong relationship and bond with your dog.
- Dogs can learn quickly as the marker or clicker allows them to learn much more easily and quickly which behaviors are expected and rewarded, and which are not.
- Highly rewarding type of training that encourages your dog to learn new concepts for themselves.
- You can do several repetitions without losing your dog’s focus, interest, and they can maintain their motivation better.
- It is reward based, so it may not be suitable if you have a food motivated dog.
- If not done properly, then the dog may not learn or want the rewards.
- You will have to be well versed in the techniques of clicker training as you need good timing for the best results.
To summarize, marker training is also called clicker training.
The main difference between them is that you either use a verbal marker or a clicker tool to teach your dog instantly that their behavior is good, and then you reward them straight away with high value treats.
This is a common positive reinforcement method of training your dog, and one that sees many positive results.
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