Capturing takes advantage of a naturally occurring behavior and puts it on stimulus control. For example, every time your dog sits be ready for it, and when your dog next does that behavior, mark and reward. Do this every time your dog naturally does the behavior you wish to put on cue. Once your dog is offering that behavior in order to get a reward, add the word or sound that you want to communicate to your dog that s/he is to do that behavior now. With sufficient repetition, the word or sound or even a hand movement will have your dog doing the behavior.  Sometimes Capturing takes longer to establish a behavior, but it will be reliable because it is based on a behavior that comes naturally to the dog.

To “capture” a new behavior and add a cue, think of your clicker (or other marker of choice) as a camera – you are “taking a picture” of the desired behavior. For instance, in teaching a service dog to settle whenever I am sitting down eating, reading, working on the computer or talking to a friend I would:

  • Start in a non-distractive environment like the bathroom.  I've noticed with most of my dogs that waiting for me in the bathroom seems to be a natural behavior.
  • I would probably grab my kindle or phone, put the seat down on the toilet and start to read.
  • Keeping some attention on the dog I would wait for her to sit or even lie down
  •  Most would say mark and reward at this point, but in my experience the mark can cause the dog to get up to get the reward and I personally don't want that.  So I just toss a treat close enough to my dog's mouth (usually between the front paws) so that she doesn't have to move to get it.
  • Go back to reading my book, wait for more calm settled behavior
  • Tossing food at intervals to get duration

While I am normally a fan of short training sessions, for an exercise such as this a longer session may be recommended, particularly for very excitable dogs. Generally, a session like this may last for 15 – 20 minutes. Because I generally teach this behavior to service dogs, sessions like this, once the dog understands to settle immediately that I do, could last for an hour.

In addition to these structured training sessions, you can practice capturing and reinforcing offered settle in other situations. You may want to have treats in various rooms of your house so that you are able to quickly reinforce uncued offerings of whatever behaviors you want in your dog.

In Training

Standard Parkour



Jumpers Parkour

Creative Parkour