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Categories: Marker Training , Training With Food

Q. I have some questions after watching the new Power of Training with Food.
Hi Cindy,

I just finished watching the new training dogs with food video with Michael Ellis. Owning the old and the new, I found the new one to be considerably better - good job Leerburg!

I do have one question, which was highlighted after watching the new one (I thought I understood it before watching the new one). At the end of the video, Michael talks about reward schedules. He gives a few examples, all of which skip the marking - he simply just gestured like he was giving a release marker and then continued on without rewarding. When he did decide to reward - he marked the behavior.

I found this to be rather confusing on two fronts... First, I don't understand why you wouldn't mark the behavior - it seems to me that it may lend itself to self-doubt in the dog if not executed well. For example, the dog may decide that he must be doing something wrong and start offering different behaviors before the next reward comes around. Second, if we use physical cues to release the dog - won't this just create problems later when we expect the dog to ignore more and more physical cues? I'd hate to accidentally release my dog in a trial because he had been conditioned to look for a physical release cue. What does a verbal only variable reward schedule look like? Does it exist? Am I over-thinking this?

Thanks!

A. Hi,

Reward schedules and phasing out rewards is covered in the video Finishing Work, which I believe you already own. I don't ever phase out rewards completely with my own dogs but I do vary the schedule and sometimes mark without rewarding as they become fluent in the behavior I'm working on.

It's really a complicated topic, so Michael did a video on this. I'd review Finishing Work video and if you still have questions, pass them on to me and I'll see if I can't get Michael's input.

Thanks!
Cindy Rhodes
  
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