What is a Marker?
Conditioned Reinforcers, or markers, have long been used by trainers all over the world – not just for training dogs, but for captive animals in the zoo industry as well.
It creates a common language between human and animal that facilitates a much faster rate of learning.
Most people have seen or heard of clicker training. The clicker is one of the many sounds or signals we can use to “mark” what we want to see more of.
The term “markers” is used because they are used to mark the EXACT moment our dog achieves success in an exercise and, if it has been conditioned correctly prior to training, the dog will understand that the food, toy, or praise that follows is a result of the particular behaviour they were engaged in when they heard their marker.
Some important aspects of a marker:
- It has to be audible to the dog.
- Unique enough that the dog is not hearing it outside of the training context.
- Short and sharp; it should sound exactly the same (or near enough to it) every time
The most common verbal marker is “YES”. This is something we use in our training classes and private sessions.