Treats, a clicker, and this genius tip are all you need to improve your dog's behavior

Happy woman giving treat to white dog in sunny park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rewarding your dog every time they complete a behavior that you've asked them to do is a good thing, right? Well, yes, but it turns out that we may be missing a piece of the puzzle when it comes to dishing out the best dog treats - one that could greatly improve your dog's behavior.

In a video shared to Instagram, which you can view below, Juliana DeWillems from JW Dog Training & Behavior shares one of their favorite training techniques - capturing. 

"You might think you should only reward your dog when they are responding to you. Surprisingly, rewarding them when they offer desirable behavior you *didn’t* ask for can actually have a huge impact on improving their behavior!," they explain.

So how exactly do you do that? According to DeWillems, it all comes down to capturing them in the act, something she demonstrates in the video. "Capturing is when you reward behaviors the dog chooses to do on their own without a cue from you," she explains. 

An example of capturing that DeWillems models is rewarding her dog with a treat when he looks at her without her prompting him to do so. His focus is reinforced and reward by the sound of the clicker and a dog treat.

"This way the dog learns to make the choice on his own," she says. "It decreases how much nagging we have to do to get his attention. We don't want a dog that always has to wait for info from us before choosing a desirable behavior - we want dogs to make those good choices on their own!"

DeWillems goes on to say that the best way to achieve this is to regularly capture those moments when your dog does something you want them to do of their own accord "and then make 'awesome stuff' happen like a click and a treat."

From helping your dog make good choices on their own to increasing their engagement during training sessions, DeWillems says capturing your dog's good behavior increases your chances of seeing more of it. 

So, next time you're out and about with your pup, why not give capturing a go? Use this technique when your dog is looking at you, orientating in your direction, turning away from a distraction, allowing for slack in their leash, watching triggers calmly, or standing patiently looking at you in between cues. 

Looking for more great training tips? Then be sure to check out our top tips for how to crate train a dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.