The single-most important tool any dog owner should have in their arsenal is an effective way to communicate with their dogs. Without this, you. are. toast. (Burnt toast, really.) For us, and anyone who owns a Barrett dog, the fundamental component to effective communication is marker training. Master this, and you will be able to teach your dog anything you want him learn. Anything.
Pretty powerful, isn’t it?!
I recently committed to raising a puppy that my friend Anne of Touchstone Weimaraners bred. The first day that I had RED home with me (and yes, I actually named a gray dog Red), we began marker training. Before we went to bed that night, Red had already learned her name and was running at me any time I called her. The next morning, I woke up to a puppy who was very happy to see me, which of course, made me feel like a million bucks.
So back to marker training. For those of you who want to nerd out on what it is and why it works, there’s a great article by Guide Dog here. AKC also has an article on clicker training, which is a form of marker training. I personally subscribe to the methods provided by Leerburg and this is an article you should carve out some time to read. Learn this, and from this, you can teach your dog to sit politely to put his leash on, sit on his bed while you’re making dinner, wait at the front door after you open it, or lay down and wag his tail when friends come in,
In summary, marker training is a valuable tool to help your dog understand what you want him to do, but also understand what you don’t want to do, and when you have the ability to extinguish behaviors you don’t want your dog to exhibit, you’re gold.
As for RED, she’s currently 14 weeks old and we just returned home from a weekend trip in the Mojave Desert together. Marker training has enabled her to display the following skills:
- Come when called so she doesn’t get stepped on by my horse
- Sit politely for my friend to pick her up so he’s not chasing her all over the desert
- Wait quietly on the bed inside my horse trailer while I was busy doing other things so I knew she wasn’t getting into trouble
- Stand pretty for me while I took a picture of her so her breeder could see what she looks like these days
Not bad for a baby dog, right?! She’s off to a great start, and with time, she’ll learn even more about how to be the perfect Weimaraner… for me. 😉