Lesson 3 – Practice your Skills

Now that your dog is conditioned to the sound of the clicker or verbal marker, we need to practice another skill or two, to really drive it home. Timing and observational skills are key in marker-based training! 

If your timing is off, you may be reinforcing the wrong behaviour (standing up instead of sitting, barking instead of quiet, jumping instead of standing). 

If your observational skills are poor, you may miss the successful performance of a subtle behaviour and your dog may get frustrated or stop trying.

There are two exercises you will have for homework (to be done without your dog present):

Homework Exercise #1: Watch a newscast and click/mark every single time the anchor blinks. You can choose any TV show or movie – newscasts tend to be easier as they are stationary and the camera is on them for a solid period of time, allowing you to practice without too much distraction.

Homework Exercise #2: Ask a friend or your partner to bounce a tennis ball and catch it repeatedly. Your job is to click/mark the nanosecond the ball touches the floor. The goal is to have one sound for each bounce rather than two separate sounds (meaning your timing is off). 

If you’re flying solo for this exercise, use this video and click each time the ball touches a boundary: 

Once you have completed these exercises, you can move on to Lesson 4 and Test out your Skills!