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Animal Training
Marker-based training is a system for teaching behavior with a marker signal that leads to positive reinforcement based on the science of free-operant conditioning. You use a marker signal (e.g., the sound of a clicker or whistle) to tell the animal when it's doing the right thing and will get a treat. The system was first widely used by dolphin trainers who needed a way to teach behavior without using physical force. For a fuller explanation, go to

Developmental Disabilities

Marker-based training is a technology evolving from behavior analysis. Parents, caregivers, and therapists are applying this simple, all-positive form of shaping to teach desirable behavior and physical skills to children, students, and clients. For more information, go to Tagteach International,, and the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, The science of behavior analysis also underlies most of the current best practices in the care and teaching of children with developmental disorders such as autism. For more information on behavior analysis and autism, see also the web site of The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.



Marker-based training, or shaping with a marker signal, is a phenomenal way to train physical skills for any sport, from golf to spelunking. Work on skills in small sections; praise or reinforce even the smallest improvement; go for lots of quick easy repetitions at each step, and don't scold! Good coaches know this intuitively, but sometimes we forget. For further information, go to



Violence Prevention

Marker-based training teaches how to elicit desired behaviors from the learner enjoyably and without force. At the same time, it empowers the learner to become a marker-based teacher. Thus, parents learn how to get their children to comply with requests, complete chores and homework, and relate harmoniously with family members without the risk of threats or force. Innovative programs are teaching at-risk parents and their children to clicker train dogs and then transfer these skills to day-to-day family life. This results in increased rapport and less risk of abuse. Many at-risk and violent families have found a marker-based training program more effective than traditional counseling or parenting skills classes in providing practical alternatives to family violence. For current research in this area, see the publications on this site by Lynn Loar, Morgan Spector, and Marcia Mayeda.