One of the easiest ways to train your dog is to capture the behaviors you like. Capturing behaviors means waiting for your dog to perform a certain behavior, and rewarding it so he will repeat it again. It won't work for everything you want to teach your dog, but you may be surprised at how quickly your dog learns to do new things when you use this clicker training technique.
What You Need
To capture your dog's behavior, all you need is a handful of small treats and a clicker. It's also important that your dog understands the meaning of the clicker (i.e. a click = a treat). The more clicker savvy the dog, the better this technique works, and the more behaviors you can teach this way.
The Rules for Using a Clicker to Capture Behaviors
The best thing about capturing behaviors is that you can do it anytime and anywhere, as long as you have your clicker and some treats on hand. You can even do it during commercial breaks while you watch television. The only rule to remember is that you should only work on capturing one behavior at a time.
How to Capture Your Dog's Behavior
First, you need to decide which behavior you want to capture. It can be any behavior you would like your dog to perform, such as lying down, sitting, rolling over, etc. Then all you have to do is wait. As soon as you see your dog perform the behavior you want, click the clicker and give him a treat.
If your dog is new to clicker training, or if you have not attempted to capture behaviors before, it will probably take him a little while to understand what you want him to do. Start with a simple behavior like "sit" or "down." You can work on more difficult behaviors once he is used to this training technique. Once most dogs get the hang of this type of clicker training, it becomes a fun game for them.
If your dog is already an expert at clicker training, chances are he will catch on quickly. Once he hears the first click and gets his treat, he will start offering behaviors in an attempt to figure out what you want him to do. Soon after he figures it out, he will begin repeating the behavior you want fairly quickly.
Add the Command
Once your dog has figured out the behavior you want him to perform and is consistently repeating it, it's time to add the command. Give the command for the behavior, and wait for your dog to do it. For instance, if you're trying to capture your dog sitting, tell him "sit," and as soon as he sits, click and give a treat. You will know your dog understands the command when you see the time decrease between when you give the command and when he performs the behavior. As easy as that, you will have taught your dog a new behavior!
For more complicated actions, you can shape behaviors with the clicker.
Edited by Jenna Stregowski, RVT