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Yes! For Marker training. How to condition a reward marker and use reward-based training affectively.

Updated: Jan 31

Steps to train your dog using an audible marker like a clicker or the word YES!

A dog giving Carey at #Careytrainsme a high five
A dog giving Carey at #Careytrainsme a high five

Goal: The goal for this session is to simply condition an auditory marker.

What is the point of a reward marker?

The simple answer is precision timing. A marker communicates to your dog that in a short period of time a reward will be offered for specific behaviour. Timing is critical for successful

dog training; timing ensures that your dog knows exactly what behaviour is being rewarded. An example of how precise timing matters would be if you are training your dog and it is excited and wiggly and can’t stay still. You lure the dog to a sit, they are over-excited and paw you with their front paws even though their bottom is on the ground in a sit. With a reward marker, we can wait and capture the exact second that your dog puts their front paws on the ground Yes!/click and reward - with a few repetitions your dog will understand that sit is all four paws on the ground and stop pawing at you.

Once my dog is conditioned to a reward marketer how long after you mark the behaviour

should you reward it? Ideally no longer than 1.5 seconds depending on the behaviour that you are training.

Time to set up for success.

Ensure that your dog has had a chance to eliminate and is comfortable on a non-slip surface.

Find a quiet place free from distractions.

You will need small bite-size rewards like treats or kibble that your dog enjoys.

Access to water in the same room.

Reward systems.

The most effective reward for marker conditioning is food, especially for beginners. Eventually, you can use toys and affection if the dog enjoys this as a reward.

The praise and affection rewards can be highly

effective in training in a calm environment, in distracting environments they can have

challenges and be less rewarding for your dog compared to world distractions. Good dog and pets versus chasing squirrels- we can easily see the most rewarding activity.


1. Food

2. Praise

3. Affection

4. Play–toys

What to expect from your dog?

While conditioning your dog to their reward marker, we don’t ask your dog to complete specific behaviours; they can be standing, sitting, or laying down in front of you. The only thing we ask is for them to enjoy their reward. The point of this exercise is to simply pair a reward marker with a reward and repeat. In no time, your dog will be conditioned that a reward is coming when they hear their marker.

Choose your marker.

You can use either a clicker or the word Yes! Whichever you choose it must be consistent.

Click your clicker (just once!) or say "yes" (just once!) and then immediately reward your dog.

One mark, one treat and repeat.

Tip: Your mark should come just before the treat, not on top of it. Click then treat OR say "yes" then treat. Remember timing is critical and ideally, the food reward is delivered no later than 1.5 seconds. Be prepared with your rewards ready. Always avoid treating and feeding at the exact same time.

Once you condition an effective reward marker you can apply it to your training plan. You will be amazed by the many new things your dog can learn and how hard they will work to hear Yes! Or Click!

What is the difference between positively rewarding a dog and bribing them?


Positively rewarding a dog involves reinforcing desired behaviours by offering a reward after the behaviour has been performed. These rewards are typically based on the principle of positive reinforcement and can include treats, praise, affection, or toys. The key is that the reward is given as a consequence of the dog exhibiting the desired behaviour. This approach helps to strengthen the bond between the dog and the owner while encouraging them to repeat the behaviour in the future.


On the other hand, bribing a dog occurs when you use a reward to lure or entice the dog into performing a behaviour they might not naturally do on their own. This is often done before the dog has actually performed the desired action. Bribing can unintentionally reinforce undesirable behaviour, as the dog may learn to only respond when they see the reward upfront. An example holding a treat in your hand and showing them to get them to come to you or shaking a bag of treats to signal there is a reward present.


In summary, positively rewarding a dog involves reinforcing behaviours after they are performed, while bribing involves using rewards to lure or entice the dog into behavior before it's performed. Using marker training will ensure that you are never bribing your dog. It's essential to focus on positive reinforcement to effectively train your dog and build a strong, trusting relationship.

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