In positive reinforcement dog training, the use of a marker is common and very effective. A marker is a way we indicate to the animal that what they just did is desirable. It can be a word such as “Yes!” or a sound.
The sound can be generated in a variety of ways. The most frequently used sound marker in dog training is a clicker. There are many styles of clickers but ultimately the function remains the same; to produce a unique “click” sound when pressed.
The marker is also a promise of a reward. Once the marker has been heard, a reward will follow. It’s their paycheck as we like to put it!
In order for the animal to understand that a reward will follow the maker, we must first establish this association through a process typically called “priming the clicker”.
The association is established relatively quickly. Should you find a clicker annoying or too much to deal with, any word will suffice but understand that using words during training can delay the learning process slightly.
Here’s a short video demonstrating how to prime your clicker (or chosen marker).
Repeat this entire exercise 5 times on the starting day in at least 3 different locations, such as the kitchen, the back yard, and the living room.
Check back in a few days for the next section and video on priming the clicker!