Reactivity; Why You Need to Be Marker Training

By now, you are probably aware that dogs don't speak English, and, we don't speak "dog". So, finding an effective and efficient way to communicate with our dogs is crucial! Marker training helps communicate to our dog that they will be reinforced or simply put, that food will happen. With excellent timing, they will start to connect "why" the food is happening!

Without an event marker, your dog likely has NO idea why you are giving them food. When dogs are suffering from reactivity, they are often doing so as a result of negative associations or they may be feeling defensive. It's important to know that changing associations is DIFFICULT. When we are trying to communicate to our dog that good things are happening as a result of that dog over there or that new person approaching us, we have to think about the most effective way to do that.

This can be the difference between DISTRACTING a dog with food and actually changing ASSOCIATIONS. Ideally, when using a marker with reactivity we mark within a few seconds of the dog noticing the thing they aren't pleased about. There are other nuances that can make or break whether this is effective or not, but we will save that for another day.

What type of markers are used?


These are typically "clickers". There are typically two types; button (softer sound) and box (louder more distinct sound). The benefit to a mechanical marker is that it consistently sounds the same.


Choosing one word such as "yes" or "yep" or "nice" is another way we can mark behaviors and make associations. This is most popular with my clients as they don't have to remember bringing a clicker.


For deaf dogs, a visual marker is extremely helpful. The thumbs up signal is a popular choice.

How to Charge Your Marker

Start by making your marker sound and giving your dog a small treat. Repeat this 5 times standing in one position. Ensure your food/treats are not visible and are in a treat pouch or fanny pack. This is VERY important! Now, move around a bit with your dog and repeat marking and treating. You should avoid reaching for your treats until AFTER you have made the marker sound.

You can use the marker for behaviors as well so if your dog has some things you've already taught them then practice asking for a behavior and mark as soon as they execute it. This will be great practice for you with your timing.

Now, you're ready to go! Marker training can be a game changer for our relationship with out dogs, clearer communication!


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dog reacting on leash
Leash Reactivity
Compulsive Behaviors

© copyright 2023 by Bravo Dog Training Inc.

Dog behaviorist and dog behaviour consultant in vancouver, north vancouver, west vancouver, british columbia

© copyright 2023 by Bravo Dog Training Inc.

North Vancouver and Vancouver dog trainer and behaviour consultant