All that is required of a trainer is a bit of patience and skill. Behavior capture combines the dog’s psychology of operant conditioning (behavior-consequence), and positive reinforcement. To take it a step further, it is really effective in teaching your dog to perform tricks and behave on command.
Ok. So how exactly does it work?
We’ll go over the simple behavior capture and command instruction process step by step. For this, all you’ll really need are some treats for your dog on hand and a simple clicker (a mechanical noisemaker) or marker word.
Pick an Action
First of all, you have to decide on the behavior or action you want your dog to learn. You should start off with something simple like sitting down because this will give you the chance to work on your training methods and technique. Your dog will also become familiarized with how things work, making it a lot easier on both of you when you move on to more complicated things.
A lot of us might have tried to teach our dogs certain behaviors using mild force-based methods such as verbally telling our pets to sit down while pressing down on their rumps to get them to do it, hoping they’ll get the message. It was frustrating, wasn’t it? What we have to always remember is that our dogs don’t understand a word of what we are saying in the sense that we do.
You could train your pet to lay down at the word ‘chocolate’ if you were so inclined. They take note of and recognize different sounds and can be trained to act accordingly, but you have to go about the training in a way that very clearly links the command to the behavior.
Before moving ahead, your canine friend might need some simple clicker/marker training to make the training process that much smoother. You do this to give the sound of the clicker/marker word some value in your pet’s mind. To do this, you’ll need to have about ten treats on hand. Click once, and feed him a treat. Pause a bit, click again and feed him another treat. Repeat until the treats are finished and you’re good to move on to the next step. You’ve established that the click is something desirable.
An effective and hassle free way of isolating and then ‘capturing’ the desired behavior is to simply keep our eyes open. Have your clicker handy and some treats nearby. Now, keep an eye on your pet as it goes about its errands, and as soon as it performs the behavior you are trying to teach it, sound your clicker and immediately give it a treat. Be careful to sound the clicker just as soon as soon as your dog gets to the floor and present the treat without missing a beat because this will reinforce the connection between sitting down and treats in the dog’s mind.
Do this enough times and you’ll begin to notice your dog performing the action more and more frequently as the relationship between sitting down, the click, and the treat solidifies in its mind.
Setting Verbal Cues
Ok. Now that you’ve got your dog to sit down at the clicker’s sound, you get to the easy part – the verbal command. Your dog is more easily trained to respond to your methods because it has gone through it before.
To do this, simply click to have Fluffy sit down while clearly vocalizing the cue you want it to recognize as the command to perform the action. Like we mentioned, it doesn’t have to be ‘sit’ to get it to sit down, it could be anything. It’s a great way to surprise friends with your dog doing tricks once you mention your random cues!