Charging Your Marker
So your ready to start training your new dog. You tell her to sit and.... nothing. We need to start by getting her to pay attention. This is generally done with food treats. Your dog needs to be food motivated so you may need to skip a meal or two to get to the starting point. Once she is food motivated and ready to work, now we can start "charging the marker". By marker we mean some sort of signal that she has done well and is about to be rewarded for it. Dogs live in the moment, second to second, so we must signal them the instant we get the behaviour we are looking for. Just giving the reward without a marker is ambiguous for the dog, he may think he just lucked out, and you will not be able to present the reword at the exact right moment every time. The marker will establish anticipation and attention.
The marker can be anything, some people use a clicker but that can be inconvenient when you can't find it. Easier to just use a word like "YES" or "GOOD".
At this stage we are not trying to teach commands, just establishing the marker and payment. So suppose he is on a leash, walk backward away from him and stop lure him into a sit position but don't name the command just say "GOOD" hold the food in front of you so he's looking at your face then give the food. If he moves away give a negative signal "NO" and withhold the food. When he looks at you again "GOOD" and treat. Repeat this many, many times until he knows "GOOD" means payday. Again we are not naming any commands at this stage because we are only teaching that "GOOD", or clicker or whatever you are using means a reward is coming. This is called "charging the marker" and once you have that firmly established you are ready to start using your marker to teach any behaviour. Don't forget she needs to be food motivated for this to work. Some trainers, when doing continuous training, will never feed the dog from a bowl because they are using food strictly as rewards and they are getting all their food that way, but if you are not working that intensely with your dog, remember that they have been getting fed all through the training process and to cut back some at feeding time. We don't want a bunch of fat dogs even if they are beautifully trained.
Have fun and keep heading Duenorth, the right direction to a well trained dog.