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Improve Attitude with Reward Markers
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I hope that after last week’s message and, the assignment for you to video a practice session, that you have become more aware of how you are using your reward marker. You should be using your reward marker (1) without any extra verbal cues, and (2) before you reach for the reward.

By concentrating on these fundamentals, you are clearly communicating to your dog exactly what he did that caused the reward to happen.

One of the first behaviors that I pair with a reward marker is sending a dog to a place or crate. One night I was teaching this to room full of advanced beginners. We were using reward markers, and one student complained that her dog did not like getting on the bed. “Just try it,” I told her, while I worked with other students. Five minutes later, she yelled across the room “She likes it!” Indeed, with each repetition, her dog was jumping on to the bed with more enthusiasm, whirling around when she heard the verbal marker, “YES.”

It's true! Dogs perform faster and with enthusiasm when we use reward markers to indicate exactly what our dogs have done to earn the reward.

Are you doubtful? Then how do you explain another evening, when a student was using a reward marker and throwing a ball for his dog when he got on the bed. After five or six repetitions, his dog chased the ball, and took it back to the bed. If going to the bed had not become rewarding, why would he run to the bed when he already had the ball?

My husband, Pat Nolan, is also a dog trainer. We can discuss dog training principles for hours and often do. We are in complete agreement that using reward markers is one of the most powerful tools in our training tool box. 

Pat tells a powerful story that explains why dogs enjoy activities paired with reward markers. I’ve asked him to share that story, and others, with you. Pat and I will be conducting a webinar on November 15th at 8:00 pm.  Plan to join us for a discussion about the use of reward markers in dog training.