What is a No Reward Marker?

A No Reward Marker is an auditory signal or cue that is paired with removing something the dog values (one example could be to "immediately" mark the undesired response with "no" or "eh-eh" followed by an exaggerated display of removing yourself from the training area and taking all rewards with you) every time the dog gives an incorrect response. This is known as "negative punishment"  where the consequence is removing something the dog values. With proper timing the No Reward Marker or identifier should motivate the dog to stop presenting the incorrect behavior and offer the desired one.


It is crucial to understand that dogs do not know there is such a thing as training. They do not understand why we prefer sitting to jumping or why it is so important to us that they stay and not move at certain times.


Anyone who lives with a dog should realize that dogs experience the world differently than we do. They focus on information obtained primarily through their sense of smell and hearing while communicating primarily via body language with some vocalization. By contrast, humans obtain information through visual and auditory sources and communicate verbally with some body language. These communication and perception differences make it difficult for us to teach dogs what we want them to learn. It also means that we sometimes inadvertently teach dogs things we don’t want them to learn.


For example, how many people unknowingly teach their dogs to engage in some unwanted behavior like jumping, barking, nudging or nipping by giving the dog attention at the very moment he engages in that behavior? Even if we say, “No, no, bad dog! Don’t do that!” this is rarely sufficient to extinguish the behavior, and in comparison to being bored and ignored, “No, no, bad dog!” sounds pretty good.


By teaching a clear system of communication to the dog, we can clearly point out the exact behavior we like while clarifying, simplifying and speeding up the learning process. In addition, we reduce the frustration of cross-species communication. 


That is why we must clearly and precisely communicate to the dog exactly what he is doing correctly or incorrectly. We must never assume he knows what we want or what is good or bad behavior.


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