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Old 12-05-2012, 06:28 PM
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Default Verbal vs. Nonverbal Markers

Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but I'm curious...

Do any of you believe a nonverbal marker (like a click) is stronger than a verbal one (such as 'yes')?

What do you use when you train your dogs?

I've always used my voice (a happy 'yes') as a marker because it is convenient -- it's something you always have handy, you're not going to forget to bring it on walks, and it's not something to juggle along with your leash, bait bag, toys etc. What about you?
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:45 PM
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I think the clicker is often stronger than a verbal marker simply for it's uniqueness. Tucker has three markers. The clicker, "yes!", and a clicking noise I make with my mouth. The clicker appears to be the weakest, the clicking with my mouth appears to be the strongest. However I use the clicker so infrequently it's hard to say if it's even fully trained. so I can't really count that here.

I think the "yes!" is weak because it sounds like how I talk all of the time, and as all dogs know most of what people say is useless. "Yes" is undoubtedly used when myself or others speak to him but it is not followed up with a treat, thus weakening it. It does work well in formal training sessions because he knows it always means something in that setting, and he's always listening to me in a formal training session, always waiting for information. But on walks or in real life scenarios he doesn't really notice I've said something important to him.


I don't ever accidentally click with my mouth, it is 100% followed with a reward. It also sounds distinctively different than my talking voice which makes it easy to notice, not human babble to be ignored. I also use it almost exclusively on walks/out and about and never in formal training, so that might make a difference. He knows to listen for it because it appears out of the blue, "yes!" usually does not.


I'd say if your dog appears to notice the marker (and looks happy about it) even in distracting scenarios then it's a good one for your dog.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:53 PM
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When I am teaching a brand new skill I prefer the clicker, it's more precise. Once they kinda get it, I often switch to verbal. I also use verbal markers for mushing, because I don't really have another choice.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:57 PM
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I know that for my dogs, absolutely, a clicker is wayyyy stronger than a verbal marker.

They hear my voice all the time. It's not a unique sound that jumps out at them, and when I use my voice as a marker, I don't always sound the same. It varies too much.

A while ago in one of my obedience classes, there was a young dog being... well, a young dog. Not very focused, easily distracted. That went on for a couple classes. This was a positive reinforcement class but they didn't go too in depth about learning theory and markers and whatnot, for most people they were fine to just use "yes!" as a marker. But the trainer suggested to this owner that maybe she should start using a clicker instead of her voice, and that her dog might respond to that better. And yep.... the dog was much better with the clicker, more engaged and seemed to have an easier time learning.

I'd like to just use a verbal marker, but it just doesn't get a strong reaction from my dogs like the clicker does.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:00 PM
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I use "yes" as a verbal marker. I haven't had any problems with it, but that may be because I don't talk much? I dunno.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuffStuff View Post
I use "yes" as a verbal marker. I haven't had any problems with it, but that may be because I don't talk much? I dunno.
This is why I use a clicker when I'm training something new, I'm a horrible cheerleading chatterbox while training and I've never taught myself to shut up.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianneIsabel View Post
This is why I use a clicker when I'm training something new, I'm a horrible cheerleading chatterbox while training and I've never taught myself to shut up.
This.
If my marker was a word my dog would have to be very careful to select it out my running commentary lol

plus.. I like being a cheerleader! lol
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sassafras View Post
When I am teaching a brand new skill I prefer the clicker, it's more precise. Once they kinda get it, I often switch to verbal. I also use verbal markers for mushing, because I don't really have another choice.
This

And

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianneIsabel View Post
This is why I use a clicker when I'm training something new, I'm a horrible cheerleading chatterbox while training and I've never taught myself to shut up.
I talk. A lot. All the time.

So yes, for new behaviors and shaping things typically I use a clicker but I do make sure my verbal marker of "yes!" is always fresh because I use it a lot while out and around or after the idea of the behavior is understood.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:27 PM
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I agree with the others who think that the clicker is a stronger, more precise marker than a verbal marker.

Personally I prefer a clicker - especially when I'm trying to shape something very specific - because MY timing is a lot better. For some reason I'm MUCH slower getting a word out than I am just moving my thumb, speaking seems to take more brainpower. I did, however, used to work with a trainer who was actually a lot better with a verbal marker than the clicker, so maybe it's just that I've had a lot more practice with the clicker or something.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:53 PM
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I use "yes!". Mainly because she hates the sound of the clicker, and I hate the sound of a clicker, so getting her used to it wasn't a battle I was willing to fight

ETA: I do squeaker training with the ferrets, and I've found it's a lot easier for me to just use "yes!". I'm clumsy trying to click things, apparently
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