Capturing means “catch your dog being good.” More specifically, it means click/yes and reward her immediately for doing a behavior that you like. Behaviors that are reinforced are behaviors that continue!
This is why when you are in training mode, it is really helpful to wear a treat pouch, or have a pocket stuffed with treats, or have a bunch of bowls around the house with treats in them (out of reach of the dog). The good thing about a pouch is that can also have a toy or ball in it to reward the dog if your dog likes those things.
Trainers (and applied behaviorists) call it “capturing” when you spot a behavior that you like and your reward it.
How to Increase Your Success With Capturing
If, for example, you want to train your dog to hang out on his bed but the dog doesn’t usually go to the bed, try this: when the dog is not looking, put a treat on the bed.
At some point the dog will happen to go over there and find the treat. The reinforcement power of finding that treat will be huge! We all love things we find ourselves, right? If you do this often enough the dog will start going to check out the bed on his own. When he does, click/yes and treat!!
Instead of using food rewards, you can also give attention and praise with you voice and petting — but research shows these will be less effective if they are all you use.
What Are Some Good Behaviors To Capture
- Lying on his bed
- Being quiet instead of barking
- Sitting at your side
- Looking at you
- Walking at your side
- Keeping 4 feet on the floor when guests arrive (Be prepared to click/yes and treat a lot and quickly for this behavior.)
- Staying out of the way in the listen when you are cooking (on a mat in the kitchen corner, for example)
- Going into his crate
Here’s a Tip…
Get good at tossing treats!!! If from across the room you see your dog going to his bed, you can still click/yes and treat! BUT toss the treat at him onto the bed. (between his front paws if you are really good!) Where you deliver the treat makes a difference. Dogs will tend to hang out where the food is given.