Glossary of Terminology

The jargon used in the dog world can be confusing and easily lose you when you are not familiar with it. Personally, I try to use words that people can easily relate to and understand, but here is some of the terminology you may come across…

A dog acting with the intention of harming or exhibiting threatening behaviour at a person or another animal.
An act an individual performs.
Behaviour Analysis
The review of the patterns between the behaviour of a study and environmental factors.
Bite Threshold
The point at which a dog develops the intention to bite. This is inevitably dependent on the level of stress or triggers required to initiate the behaviour.
The relationship between the dog and it’s owner/carer/handler. A strong bond will enhance the ability to train a dog.
Breaking Position
The dog will release itself without a cue.
An incentive for the dog that keeps it patient and attention between a release and a reward or reinforcer.
Building Duration
Training delivered to increase to the timescale of a continued behaviour.
Calming Signals
A behaviour observed in dogs that may be used to avoid confrontation or aggression. Dogs use their owning calming behaviour to help themselves or portray a calming approach to another dog. These are used through body language from one dog to another.
Some dog trainers will use clicker training as an enforcer. This involves the use of a clicker as a marker for a required action or behaviour. The clicker makes a distinctive click noise that attracts the dogs attention.
As a dog learns from experience they go through the conditioning stages to reach the end goal.
The outcome of a behaviour, situation or something caused by the impact of another influence.
Controlled Behaviour
An action learnt by the dog that become self initiated and show self control without cues.
An action or cue that stops a dog from carrying out a behaviour or detracts from it’s intention to carry out a predicted behaviour. On achievement the dog can be rewarded.
An action, verbal request or object that initiates a dog to perform a request.
Default Behaviour
If a dog is unsure of how to behave or react to situation it will resort to its instinctive behaviour, which may be previously taught or a natural response.
To desensitise a dog you are re associating a stressful situation to a more comfortable and less stressful experience. This can be a slow process requiring patience as you represent the encounter in a way that does not instigate a negative reaction in the dog.
Anything that may cause the attention of the dog to detract from something else. Scents, noise, people and environment can all distract the dog from concentrating on training. A distraction can be good thing if intentionally designed to detract from a negative situation and be triggered by you.
Anything that is around, in the surroundings or locality that may have an impact on the behaviour and/or cause a behaviour.
Eye Contact
When the dog gives you their attention and makes eye contact with you.
Slowly reducing and ultimately removing a prompt to lead to a cue alone being enough to influence a behaviour.
An emotionally charged emotional behaviour caused by the nervous system and activated by the feeling of potential danger or a negative situation.
Fear Free
An approach intended to keep the dog as calm and free from stress as possible. Training should never be delivered by installing fear in a dog to achieve results. Potentially stressful situations such as vet visits should be carried out in a calm manner with positive reinforcement to reward the dog for good behaviour.
High Value Reward
A reward in the form of the what the dog most loves and finds more motivational ie something extra special that they will want to earn.
Intermittent Reinforcement
This is where reinforcement ie a reward is only given part of the time and intermittently, but instigates the required response from the dog.
To break the dogs attention to something or attract focus away from an unwanted behaviour.
Is the behaviour exhibited between between the given cue and the response of the dog.
The process the dog follows to change a behaviour and achieved a desired result.
Low Stress Handling
To focus on gentle, reward based and stress free handling of a dog. To avoid fearful and stressful triggers.
Low Value Reward
A reward the dog will enjoy, but is not overly excited about.
An object, reward or movement that will lead your dog into a required position or deliver a desired behaviour.
A signal given whilst learning that will confirm to the dog that the correct behaviour is being displayed. This could be a treat, a noise, a word, something the dog will acknowledge.
Making the dog an offer in return for a required behaviour. The dog will learn what behaviour is sought and respond appropriately at which point the offer is delivered in the form of a reward.
Acting negatively to escape a situation or trigger ie people, other dogs, environment. Reactive dogs may show aggression, lunge, and advance a warning behaviour to harmful behaviours.
When the dog is free to roam, but returns to you on cue.
A valuable reward for the dog on achieving a correct behaviour. Usually a high value reward.
A result that the dog enjoys and finds rewarding. A reinforcement is chosen depending on what the dog is motivated by. Some dogs perform for a treat, others for praise, while a game may satisfy also. A reinforcement is considered as a reward for good behaviour.
A verbal cue that permits the dog to release from its position and move.
Rev up the Dog
This means to get the dog really excited and motivated. When you know what your dog enjoys, make the most of it and lead it into a training session, which will make training fun for the dog and enjoyable experience.
Reward Based
When a dog is trained using rewards for good behaviour ie reward based training.
Catching a natural behaviour that a dog carries out, so when he does the action you immediately react in a specific manner to associate that with the behaviour.
A reference to a multitude of ways used to train a dog and achieve a required behaviour.
The process of teaching a dog a behaviour through breaking the training down into a number of steps. Teaching the dog using simple steps that come together one by one enabling the dog to learn the new behaviour in an easier and logical way.
Stress Signals
The dog will display signals of stress through behaviour and body language that will indicate when they are uncomfortable in a certain situation, environment, presence, which may include barking, panting, pacing, trying to move away. These can escalate and become more extreme, developing into anxiety, panic and even aggression.
An object a dog is being trained to aim for. When an item is presented to the dog it will learn to respond in a required way.
Transfer of Value
Associating something that is not valuable to the dog with something that is valuable and ultimately over a period of time the two will be seen as equal value.
An object, noise, movement, scent, anything that can prompt a reaction. This may not always be positive as it may remind a dog of something negative.
An item or type of food that has high value to the dog and used as a reward. The value is then associated to a behaviour or response. In time the dog will see the required behaviour or response to mean value even without the reward.