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I am the Dog Trainer Girl. A wife to a wonderful husband, momma to 2 boys, one that is a mini-me and makes me call my dad and appologize on a regular basis. I am owned by a Corgi named Yadi. I'm a Baseball girl, who likes bats, ball and bases on my diamonds. Go Cardinals!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Markers - Orientation Series

This is an Orientation Series Post

So, what is Positive Reinforcement Training?

It is the method of using kindness and compassion to teach our dogs that if they willingly do the things we ask it will bring them good things. The science behind how animals learn has taught us that behaviors that are voluntarily offered by our dogs are much stronger and more reliable behaviors than those that we compel our dogs to do out of fear or punishment, also known as aversive methods.

Positive Reinforcement or R+ often use the following things:

A Marker to tell our dogs that they have done what we are asking them to do. This could be a clicker which is my favorite for working with puppies. Or this could be a verbal word such as Yes, or Good!

Your Treats are what is known as a Primary reinforcer, which means that they are the primary reason that your dog is working.

Your marker is a secondary reinforcer, which means that it predicts the delivery of a treat. Using a marker has been shown to speed up the training process as well as activates the learning center of your dog's brain.

The first step in using a marker is to make it valuable to your dog. We have to teach them that the marker means they have done something that is worth getting a treat for. This is the way that I and many other trainers do it:

  • Take a handful of your dog’s food
  • Press your Clicker or say Yes! Or Good
  • Pop a piece of food in their mouth

After 20 pieces of food, wait until your dog is not paying attention to you and click, see if your dog’s head whips up to look at you when you click.

If your dog pays attention to the click your on the right path, if not repeat for 20 more pieces of food and then check again.

It is very important that during this teaching phase you do not ask your dog to do anything. This is also the last time that you will click to see if your dog looks back at you. Contrary to the belief of the makers of Jurassic World, a Clicker is not used to get attention during training but don’t get me started on that tangent.

The most important part of using a marker is timing. You must catch the behavior the second that it happens. If you are to soon or too late, you could be marking a behavior that is not what you are looking for. Think of it like this, whatever your dog is doing when you click, is what you are telling your dog that you like because you are willing to pay them with food for doing it.

Most puppy parents have already taught their dogs to Sit when they come into my classes so I use the Sit behavior to demonstrate how the marker should be used.

  • Hold a treat in your hand right at you dogs
  • Slowly raise your treat up over your dogs head (think of aiming to move right between their ears)
  • As their head follows the treat up, their bottom should go down to the floor
  • Click or Yes the second that your dogs bottom touches the floor.

1 comment:

  1. Rylie is doing very well with this task. She does however get easily distracted. Continuing to work on this with her and trying not to push past her "paying attention" point.


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