Using No Reward Markers

Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C.Canine Corner

Should Trainers Tell Dogs When Their Behavior Is Wrong?

Is telling your dog when he has done the right thing all you need for training?

The Golden Retriever moved across the floor to where a half a dozen dumbbell shaped objects were spread out. As the dog approached one of these the trainer said “Yes!” in an enthusiastic voice. The dog immediately grabbed the article and returned it to her in exchange for a treat.

A few moments later the article with the handler’s scent had been returned to the group of other items and placed in a different location. Again the big yellow dog moved forward and was about to lift another object from the floor, however this time it was not the item with the correct scent. Upon seeing this, the handler announced “Sorry!” The dog stopped reaching for the wrong item, looked back at the trainer, and then


                         “Maybe no reward markers (“oops!” or “sorry!”) are not such a brilliant idea.”                     

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