Teaching the MARK

My favorite clicker with attached wristband.  

Ready, set, action.  Just kidding.  Teaching the "go to your MARK" is easy and it is what movie stars dogs learn and understand.  They are required to go to a MARK and do a particular behavior.  Watching a video last week had me wanting to extend my MARK training.  Elsa has a couple of "place" type behaviors which are another version of the MARK.  

First I got out my click and Trader Joe's O cereal.  The clicker is a great way to work away from your dog.  It is used to mark a correct behavior at the precise moment that it occurs.  When paired with a reward, it is a fast way to teach.  But if you are planning on using a clicker or verbal "yes" as I do as well; you must learn how before trying to implement it.  I have seen many people using the clicker incorrectly. 

To the MARK, notice her tail movement?  Elsa loves learning. 

On her way into a down and having fun. 

Next, I placed the X on the carpet with painters mask and thought about what I wanted Elsa to do.  She already has her "bed" behavior where she must go to any blanket, bed or pillow when asked and lie down.  It is a casual behavior which we use mostly for when we are eating.  She also has her "chill" which is used for when someone comes to the door.  She has a very specific little rug that she needs to go to and stay there until told that she can move.  Being that Elsa comes unglued when visitors come over; we are still working on that one.  

So for this "MARK" exercise I wanted her to go to the MARK and sit.  Sounds simple?  Getting her to the MARK was easy peasy; having her sit was not.  Elsa's go to behavior is a "down" so having her stop short of going down took some work.

Elsa is use to offering new behaviors so as soon as I put the tape on the floor she got started.  She was going to the spot almost immediately although she had a good look around to see if there was something else that she was to incorporate into a new behavior.  She had a quick look at Dad's guitar and a random paper on the floor.  I picked the paper up and gave her a "error marker" when she looked at the guitar again.  My error marker is a low non verbal sound, mmm mmm.  I didn't want her scratching the guitar in attempts of figuring out what I wanted.  

First she got a click for simply going to the tape; which she achieved quickly.  Then we moved to the "sit, not down" part which was not easy.  Catching her before she went down required timing.  I used error markers for when she went down before I could catch her.  This lets her know that she has made an error right away so that she is not left hanging.

I also moved her from a down to a sit several times, to correct the error.  It didn't take her long to figure it out once I got an error marker in as she was on her way down.  Catching the mistake before it happened helped her immensely.  Once I have the "sit" solidified, I will work on other behaviors on her MARK.  

As far as training at home for fun, the sky is the limit.  Elsa learns so quickly that I'm always trying to think up something to teach her.  She is a very enthusiastic learner and often bold.  If she doesn't think that I am working up to par, she lets me know.  What a girl.  

For some reason I was unable to post her video here today.  If you'd like to see her in action, please visit my FB page.  Just dogs with Sherri.  You will see in the video that I am using "yes" instead of clicks which is easier when trying to video.