Discussing how to get started training your dog new behaviors, and introducing the concept of a marker- either a visual one for deaf dogs, or a sound for dogs who can hear. Marker training, or clicker training was popularized by dolphin trainer Karen Pryor. She needed a way to tell the dolphins the exact time they had done the correct behavior, even when they were many feet away. She started classically conditioning the sound of the click to mean that a treat was coming. Using a clicker is a good idea for many dogs, but some handlers find it hard to manage the clicker, their treats, the leash, etc, so I think a verbal marker- just the word “yes” is usually good enough. For deaf dogs, we use a visual marker.
It is NOT recommended to use a flashlight as a visual marker, as deaf dogs have a higher propensity to develop OCD behaviors around lights or shadows. If you can remember Pavlov’s dogs- you will know that that is exactly what we are doing here! Pairing a neutral stimuli that has no meaning (the clicker or verbal/visual marker) and pairing it with pleasant stimuli (food) to then cause the marker to mean something good.
Its really easy to begin using a marker word! You just use your marker, whichever it is, and then give a treat within 3 seconds of marking! I call this “Catch Your Dog Doing Something Good,” since you would mark whenever they are doing something that’s not bad! My visual marker for Sydney is the ASL sign for “yes,” just to keep it simple. Many people use a thumbs up as well. Once you classically condition your marker, you use it to train new behaviors by marking the exact moment that they perform the behavior!
Good luck, like and subscribe, and be sure to reach out if you have any questions!
Happy training, Savannah & Sydney