Establishing a Marker


I shot this video in 2015 while I ran an online course via youtube training my now dog "Big Lou's" sire ... "Swinger" as a puppy.

Swinger went on to become a Master Hunter at the age of 3. It takes a total of 13 passed tests to achieve a MH title and Swinger did so in 15 attempts. He grew to become a fabulous adult competitor & companion based on using these sound foundation principles when he was a youngster.

The video is a bit out-dated, but, I still follow the same basic techniques. So .. this is an important one to watch!

4 Steps To Establish Your Marker

Young puppies will learn the concept of marker training very fast because they are a "blank slate." Have patience with older dogs (we call these dogs cross over dogs) it might take a little longer for them to catch on but certainly they will adapt. For dogs of any age, work on marker establishing as the ONLY task for at least one of your sessions each day for a few days when getting started. for the purpose of this course I will be using the term "C/T" (Click / Treat) but keep in mind if you choose to use a verbal marker ... the "C" = Verbal.

Here are the 4 essential elements needed to conduct a successful conditioning session:

1. Be Prepared

  • HUNGRY / Bored dog.

  • MANY HIGH VALUE small, soft & stinky treats.

  • QUIET / No distraction room/place.

  • Leash & Collar ON (even inside).

  • NO TIGHT POCKETS: easy to access instant grab treats for fast delivery and "re-load"

  • CLICKER or Select a unique /fast verbal like 'YES" and practice without the dog a few times to be sure you are ready with timing.

2. 100%

  • Start by C/T a few reps as soon as you settle into your training space. 5 - 6 reps usually get a dog's attention. 

  • C/T for eye contact or ANY behavior your dog offers that you like. 

  • It is OK if you C when you dog is not paying attention. Just make sure to treat EACH time no matter what. 

  • Each and  every C is a promise of a T. 

3. Be Clear

  • Use treats 100% of the time. 1C = 1T. NO exceptions. 

  • DO NOT give any verbal commands. 



4. End "Up"

  • "Climb out" of each and every training session. 

  • End on a good and simple note.

  • End your session while your dog is paying attention.

  • End your session while your dog wants 'one more treat'

  • Puppies & dogs with shorter attention spans, dogs who are not as food motivated, and dogs who are crossover dogs will most likely need multiple short conditioning sessions.

Week 1: Review & Demo