Initially, Sarah used a clicker to reinforce the sit and down behaviors, but then transitioned to using the duration marker “yes.” Duration markers, also known as “Keep Going Signals,” communicate to the learner “I like what you’re doing. Keep doing it, and I will bring you a reinforcer.” Duration markers are useful tools for building the duration of a behavior, as they prevent the dog from popping up out of the behavior to collect the treat.
Sarah recommends using a high rate of reinforcement initially (yes, treat/yes, treat) to help teach your dog to stay in position longer. Once your dog’s responses become more consistent, you can progress to gradually increasing the duration between the yeses and the treats (yes… treat/yes… treat). If your dog is getting up frequently, that is a message that you are progressing too quickly and may need to decrease duration until your dog is staying reliably. Once your dog is staying reliably, you can begin adding other criteria to the stay behavior, such as distance and distraction.
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