Charging the Mark in Dog Training

January 16, 2020

Charging the mark is the first step in training your dog.  The starting point. Day One. First thing you teach your dog before you introduce commands. 

Charging the mark teaches the dog to associate the word “yes” or the sound of a clicker, to a high-value reward.   Once the dog hears the marker word or sound, a treat is delivered. We will explain the process in a bit. First, let’s provide a little more info. 

While a reward in dog training can be a toy, praise or food, we recommend you stick to a high-value food reward when teaching your dog to charge the mark. The other rewards may be too stimulating or not stimulating enough during this stage of training.

What is a high-value food reward?  It’s a treat your dog greatly enjoys.

 Below we listed instructions for clicker training.  This method is the same when using a verbal marker.  For the visual learners (like me), we also included a video.  Remember…

The object of charging the mark is for the dog to associate the sound with the reward.  

Are you ready to get started?


  1. Click
  2. Immediately deliver the treat to your dog *
  3. Repeat  steps 1 and 2

* Notes:

  • your dog does not have to do anything for the treat.  Just click and treat.
  • repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times, cut treats up so they are on the smaller size. This will prevent your dog from consuming too many calories.  If your dog enjoys their dog kibble, use that instead of treats.

 You can practice this exercise when your dog is standing, sitting or laying down. Don’t issue any commands, just do it when you notice your dog in different positions.  After a few days, surprise your dog by doing it when they are not paying attention to you or looking in another direction.  

When your dog looks to you during the surprise exercises, he understands this process and is ready to move on to the next step of training.

Take your time and enjoy practicing this method with your dog.  When your both ready, join us for the next training lesson.  We will define marker training and show you how to use marker training to teach your first command.

Written by Katie McKnight





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