Establishing a marker word for dog training

Get ready to put your best paw forward with our tail-wagging dog training campaign!

9th January 2024

To save pet parents barking up the wrong tree, in terms of training their best fur-iends, our Dog Training campaign is your ‘go-to’ resource for tail-wagging training! Get ready to put your best paw forward…

This week’s video focuses on marker training. Marker words are a clear signal that let your canine companion know they’ve done something right, by instantly following your chosen vocal marker with a reward.

A vocal marker is a word you use to let your dog know they’ve done something correctly – making it more likely that they’ll repeat a desired behaviour when asked. However, using common words or phrases like ‘good girl’ and ‘good boy’, aren’t recommended, because others can often say these phrases to your dog, even when they’re performing a behaviour we don’t want.  

Examples of ‘marker words’ you could use for your pooch include:

  • Nice.
  • Good.
  • Yes.

Please note: A clicker can be used in place of a vocal marker, and visual markers (like a thumbs up) can be used for dogs who are deaf.

Remember: For any form of training to be effective, you’ll need to choose a reward (or rewards!) your dog responds well to, like treats, toys, and/or praise. If you’d like more advice about this, please check out our article on finding the right reward for training your dog.

Marker word training step-by-step

As you can see from the video, in order to get the most out of marker word training, you’ll need to repeat this process as often as possible. Also, practising this process before a training session or walk can be a fantastic warm-up exercise for your dog! 

Here’s the process for marker word training:

Step 1 – Choose your marker word.

Step 2 – Say your chosen marker word (a.k.a. ‘mark’), then instantly give your dog a treat; repeat this step five times.

Step 3 – Your dog will then need to do something correctly, to hear the marker word and receive a reward. As a starting point, say your dog’s name once (only once!) and, if they look at you, say the marker word as you give them a reward.

Top tip: If you say your dog’s name and they don’t listen to you, don’t repeat their name. Instead, pop a treat in front of their nose and guide their attention towards your face by moving the treat to your chin, then mark and reward. Teaching your dog that their name will only be said once should help them to keep their attention on you and means you won’t have to repeat it constantly for their attention.