Marker Training

Using marker Training for fast and reliable success.

A marker is a tool/methodology, which allows for an acurate communication between human and animal. One can condition both positive and negative markers.

A marker is a so-called secondary reinforcer. Secondary meaning, that it predicts a consequence, depending upon the conditioned intent it signals a coming reward (positive marker) or a punishment (negative marker).

A direct consequence is called the primary when it is given to the dog without warning. The marker itself can be a trained word, a hand signal, a tongue-click, a clicker, etc.

I can use a positive marker to pinpoint the desired behavior and reward it. The marker can identify for the dog desired associations as well as help work out desired behavioral chains. A desired cooperation between dog and owner can develop through this communication.

The positive marker signal predicts a coming reward and is also called a bridge signal, meaning it bridges the time between the actual signal and the delivery of the earned reward.

The marker is also a so-called double reward. It's been scientifically shown, that as a result of marker training, Dopamine (Neuraltransmitters) is released in the dog's brain. This means, that marker-trained dogs feel rewarded by simply recognizing the marker signal, which is then always followed by a real reward. This makes the combination of marker + real reward into a double-reward.

There are many possible methods and reasons to use a marker system. We use it in the positive development of specific signals, free-shaping of desired behaviors, to work on fearful or aggressive behaviour or to change emotional responses. Especially in fear/aggression cases it is important to influence the emotional response of the dog when confronted with very conflicting situations. Using a positive marker we are able to improve the dogs' emotions regarding the trigger.

In order to be successful using a marker training system, one must develop a good sense of timing so that the exact desired behavior can be shaped. One also needs to learn about Learning Theory, meaning where and how to implement the marker training as well as to recognize possible mistakes, but once one has learned and practiced these abilities, the training possibilities are virtually limitless.

Source: Freundschaft Hund - Gemeinsam durchs Leben, Tina Müller (please request permission for further distribution and use from the author)

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