Our Deaf Dogs Rock Ambassador Erin Marion, from Down To Earth Dog Lady Training has some great tips below on how to get started with training/working with your deaf or deaf/blind dogs and learning how to mark their good behavior by using a visual marker. Thanks Erin for taking the time to share this training information with our Deaf Dogs Rock Community. According to my dogs Bowie, Marshall, Tallulah. Axl Blu and Ringo Star, you totally rock! ~ Christina – Deaf Dogs Rock
Let’s Mark Those Behaviors!
By: Erin Marion CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP
When we’re rewarded for something that we have done, whether by our family at home or in the office for something work related it, usually, makes us feels good. If our behaviors are rewarded enough we tend to want to repeat them! For example many children are taught to display “good behavior” by using a sticker chart. After displaying “good behavior” for a certain amount of stickers the child will earn a prize. It’s important that we reward and do the same for our deaf and blind dogs. Positive reinforcement training is based on marking and rewarding the behaviors our dogs display in hopes to see those behaviors again. A “marker cue” is a way to let our dogs know when they have done something correctly by using tactile stimulation. For example, if you have a deaf and blind dog that gets overstimulated around food, you may want to use treats with low potency to mark and reward for calm behavior around the more potent smell.
The best way to communicate with a dog that is deaf and blind is through tactile or touch cues. Please reference the photo below of the most common places to introduce your new marker cue!
It’s extremely important that we teach our new marker cue in the right way. We want to use gentle “boops” when touching our dogs. We also want to make sure that we are using a reinforcer that is valuable to your dog. My dogs love everything from Cheerios to carrots to dried liver treats. Below is a PDF that I give all my new clients on how to properly get started!
Here is an example video of how I teach all my marker cues!
If you have any questions on how to get started teaching a marker cue please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com
You can also follow the Down To Earth Doglady on Facebook, by clicking here.
Erin Marion (she/her)
Certified Professional Dog Trainer