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I have decided to start implementing the "Nothing in Life is Free" or make the dog work to earn it approach in my training. For example, I will have my dog do a down or some other obedience behavior before I feed him breakfast or dinner and I will do the same thing before we leave the house (before opening the front door).

Now when he does the obedience behavior (correctly) before feeding him or opening the front door for a walk I will mark it with a YES. I know we do this in training before the reward for treats or a game of tug with a special toy, but I was wondering if there are any downsides to using dinner or the act of going out with the markers. I haven't thought of any negatives other than it could erode the significance of rewarding behaviors with treats or tug. Anyone have any thoughts?
 

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I think it's ok to mark and give a non-treat reward, because I think the general goal is to (eventually) only reward the marked behaviors intermittently. I remember seeing something about this type of intermittent reward being SUPER effective for dogs, because rewards for a wild dog would also be intermittent (they don't catch every rabbit they chase, and so on). This way we can have the pup sit "for free," down "for free," etc. from time to time.

I will be interested to see some more educated responses on the topic, but especially since you are still offering a reward (getting dinner is not getting a treat reward, but it's still awesome for the dog; getting to leave the house is not getting a treat reward, but also still awesome for the dog) I don't see any downside at all!
 

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Personally, I probably wouldn't bother with a marker during every-day life. You are using functional rewards that are pretty specific to the situations in which they are being offered, which happen frequently and consistently, and require from the dog behaviours that dogs already do naturally (as in, sitting and standing still are both things dogs do on their on in the course of acting like dogs, not that they "naturally" do them when waiting for food or to go for a walk).

Eventually,whatever you end up saying just as you set the food down, or the motion of reaching for the door, will also act as their own markers/cues to indicate that the dog performed the correct behaviour and reinforcement (reward) is now coming. Even without a marker, the dog will learn pretty quickly that sitting when you have his food bowl will result in you putting down said food bowl, and I'd just save your marker word(s) for "work" time (i.e., planned specific training sessions, rather than every-day life situations).
 

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I do use markers with functional rewards, but I don't really use the 'marker training' marker. Clear as mud?

If I'm doing a formal training session with a specific behavioral goal I use 'yes!'. that means you're getting a treat, period and the end.

In daily life I use 'Good boy! (or girl)' and then proceed to give them some functional reward - like the food going down, the door opening, or me just cooing over and ruffling them because they made a good decision I'm proud of.

The dogs DO understand the difference, but they also respond to both.
 

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Mark and reward training is pretty straightforward. You use your marker (click, yes, good, etc...) and then you provide a reward (food, toy, outside, car ride, freedom, etc...).

Any combination of markers and rewards can be used as long as the dog understands the marker(s) and finds the reward to be rewarding. Easy peasy :)
 

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You can also get fancy with different words meaning different levels of reinforcement, locations of reinforcement, or types. Not necessary.

But do ALWAYS remember that your marker will be a release (unless complicated things that don't matter here). So wait until you have hte position or duration that you want before you mark.
 

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I guess I train under the "complicated things that don't matter here" :D
For duration exercises, I may choose to reward multiple times (though I think rewarding once at the end would also be sufficient if the training and proofing are done right) but my dogs aren't done till I give the release cue.

I love overcomplicating things :D :D :D
 

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I guess I train under the "complicated things that don't matter here" :D
For duration exercises, I may choose to reward multiple times (though I think rewarding once at the end would also be sufficient if the training and proofing are done right) but my dogs aren't done till I give the release cue.

I love overcomplicating things :D :D :D
It definitely falls under 'complicated things that aren't necessarily relevant on a novice level'. But yeah. You have to specifically train the dog to both use the release cue and to train them that the exercise isn't over just because they've been fed. That takes forethought or at least consistence and it doesn't happen for most people accidentally. I actually use a secondary sort of 'keep doing that' word rather than the generalized 'yes' or click. Otherwise 'Yes! = REWARD' and the dog is going to get up for the reward because hey. That mark means they did it right and it's treat time because it's what they're taught it means. Part of what causes 'I touched my butt almost to the ground and bounced up again, what do you mean that doesn't count'.
 

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It definitely falls under 'complicated things that aren't necessarily relevant on a novice level'. But yeah. You have to specifically train the dog to both use the release cue and to train them that the exercise isn't over just because they've been fed. That takes forethought or at least consistence and it doesn't happen for most people accidentally. I actually use a secondary sort of 'keep doing that' word rather than the generalized 'yes' or click. Otherwise 'Yes! = REWARD' and the dog is going to get up for the reward because hey. That mark means they did it right and it's treat time because it's what they're taught it means. Part of what causes 'I touched my butt almost to the ground and bounced up again, what do you mean that doesn't count'.
For duration - and if I can, i.e., the duration behaviour isn't incompatible with eating, like say a sustained nose touch - I feed without marking and expect the marker to be the release.
 

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For duration - and if I can, i.e., the duration behaviour isn't incompatible with eating, like say a sustained nose touch - I feed without marking and expect the marker to be the release.
I tend to vary what I do, and some of it depends on distance. In general I just gradually withhold the marker/release/reward longer.

For a sustained nose touch after years of rewarding 'bop and go' my breakthrough was actually asking for ten in rapid succession and then - waiting a bit longer and she got irritated and hit my hand harder and held it longer and built from there with just waiting longer before mark/reward/release all in one. Then it turned into a chin rest because I managed to shape on top of that, but that's not important.

For something like a longer stay at 20, 50, 100, 500 feet? I give a verbal feedback 'bridge' that's a kind of drawn out 'gooooood' to keep her there. That bridge provides some support for them without releasing, but I eventually fade it out so I don't need it, either. It just helps WHILE I build the duration with distance.
 
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