Glossary of 120+ Dog Training Terminology

Glossary of Dog Training Terminology

Welcome to the Dog Training Terminology Glossary, a comprehensive resource designed to provide dog owners, trainers, and enthusiasts with a clear understanding of the language used in dog training and behavior.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your journey in understanding and training your furry friend, this glossary will serve as your trusted companion, unraveling the complex terminology and concepts associated with canine behavior modification and obedience training.

Term Definition

ABC's of Behavior

The ABC's of Behavior is a framework used to analyze and understand the relationship between antecedents, behaviors, and consequences. Antecedents are events or stimuli that occur before a behavior, behaviors are the observable actions or responses of an animal, and consequences are the events or stimuli that follow a behavior, influencing its future occurrence.


Acquisition refers to the initial learning or development of a new behavior through repeated associations, experiences, or conditioning processes. It involves the animal acquiring knowledge, skills, or habits related to a specific behavior.

Active Disengagement

When dealing with attention-seeking behaviors such as barking, jumping or pawing, active disengagement is a method used to decrease the likelihood of the behavior by making it clear that no attention is to be earned. This is done by quietly removing yourself from the situation. When the dog shows a more appropriate behavior, attention can then be returned to reinforce the wanted outcome.
Adaptation Adaptation refers to the process by which animals adjust and modify their behavior, physiology, or morphology to better suit their environment and increase their chances of survival and reproduction. It involves changes that enhance an organism's fitness and ability to cope with various challenges.


Aggression refers to behavior exhibited by an animal with the intent to harm or threaten another individual. It can include various actions such as physical attacks, vocalizations, or displays of threatening postures.
Alpha A concept derived from outdated dominance theory, suggesting a hierarchical structure within a dog's social group where the "alpha" is the dominant individual. Modern dog training approaches reject the concept of alpha and emphasize positive reinforcement-based methods.
Alpha Roll A controversial training technique that involves forcefully rolling a dog onto its back to assert dominance and establish human control. It is not recommended as it can lead to fear and aggression in dogs.
American Kennel Club (AKC) A prominent organization in the United States that registers purebred dogs, conducts dog shows, and promotes responsible dog ownership and breeding standards.
Animal Behaviorist An animal behaviorist is a professional who studies and analyzes the behavior of animals, often with a focus on understanding their natural instincts, social interactions, learning processes, and emotional states. They apply scientific principles and behavioral theories to interpret and modify animal behavior in different contexts.


An antecedent, in the context of animal behavior, is an event, stimulus, or condition that precedes and triggers a particular behavior. It can include environmental cues, social interactions, or internal states that influence an animal's response.
Appetitive Refers to any stimulus or reward that a dog finds desirable or motivating, such as treats, toys, or praise. Appetitives are commonly used to reinforce desired behaviors during training.
Arousal Arousal refers to the level of physiological or psychological activation or stimulation in an animal. It can range from a state of low arousal, characterized by relaxation or inactivity, to high arousal, associated with increased alertness, excitement, or readiness for action.


A term used to describe any unpleasant or undesirable stimulus that is used to discourage or reduce unwanted behaviors. Aversive techniques, such as physical punishment or harsh corrections, are generally discouraged in modern, force-free dog training methods.
Backward Chaining A training method where a complex behavior is taught by starting with the final step and working backward, gradually teaching each preceding step until the entire behavior is complete.
Behavior Behavior refers to the actions, reactions, or responses exhibited by animals in response to internal or external stimuli. It encompasses a wide range of activities, including locomotion, feeding, social interactions, communication, mating, and problem-solving.
Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) A dog training approach made popular by training expert Grisha Stewart that focuses on modifying reactive or fearful behaviors by empowering the dog to make choices and providing controlled exposure to triggers at a safe distance.

Behavior Fallout

Behavior fallout refers to the unintended consequences or side effects that may occur as a result of modifying a particular behavior. It involves the emergence of new behaviors or changes in existing behaviors that were not directly targeted or anticipated during the behavior modification process. A common example is the fear a dog may develop towards their handler when being trained using compulsion.

Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is a systematic approach or set of techniques used to change, shape, or eliminate specific behaviors in animals. It involves the application of principles from learning theory and behavioral psychology to modify behavior. Modifying behavior is not the same as teaching a dog skills or manners. It is more focused on the underlying causes of unwanted behaviors and how to improve this mental/emotional state.
Bite Inhibition Bite inhibition refers to the learned ability of an animal, typically a dog, to control the force of its bite or mouth pressure. It is usually developed through socialization and training, allowing the animal to inhibit the use of excessive force when interacting with humans or other animals. A high bite inhibition refers to a dog that has a gentle mouth and has learned to control the pressure of their bite.
Body Mechanics The conscious use of body positioning, movement, and posture by a dog trainer to effectively communicate with and guide a dog during training. Proper body mechanics help optimize communication and prevent physical strain or injury.
Capturing A training technique that involves reinforcing a dog's naturally occurring behavior by providing a reward immediately after the behavior is observed. Capturing is basically "catching" the behavior in the act.
Charging the Mark A process in clicker training where the sound of the clicker is paired with a reward (usually treats) to establish a positive association. This conditions the dog to recognize the clicker sound as a signal for earning a reward.

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an animal associates a neutral stimulus with a biologically significant stimulus to elicit a specific response. It involves the formation of a reflexive or involuntary response to a previously neutral stimulus through repeated pairings with an unconditioned stimulus.
Classical Counter-Conditioning Classical counter-conditioning is a technique used to modify or change an animal's emotional response or association with a particular stimulus. It involves pairing the feared or aversive stimulus with a positive or pleasant stimulus, gradually altering the emotional response from fear or anxiety to relaxation or positive anticipation.
Clicker Training A marker training method that uses a handheld device called a clicker to mark and reinforce desired behaviors. The clicker emits a distinct sound that serves as a precise marker for the dog, indicating the exact moment when the desired behavior occurs.
Concept Training A type of training that focuses on developing healthy characteristics in dogs, such as: confidence, optimism, grit, resilience, arousal management, etc. Concept training is a fun way to work with dogs that uses games to enforce desirable characteristics.
Consequence In the context of animal behavior, a consequence refers to the outcome or result that follows a particular behavior. Consequences can be positive, such as rewards or reinforcements that strengthen the behavior, or negative, such as punishments that decrease the behavior.
Crate Training The process of teaching a dog to feel comfortable and secure in a crate or kennel. It helps with house training, provides a safe space for the dog, and aids in managing their behavior when necessary.

Defensive Aggression

This is a form of dog aggression triggered by a perceived threat, where the dog believes it must protect itself from harm. Signs of defensive aggression include growling, showing teeth, and potentially biting if the threat persists.
Desensitization Desensitization is a process used to reduce or eliminate an animal's fear or phobia by gradually exposing it to the feared stimulus or situation in a controlled and systematic manner. It involves progressively increasing the intensity or proximity of the stimulus while ensuring the animal remains relaxed and comfortable.
Detection Dog A specially trained dog that uses its sense of smell to detect and locate specific substances or objects, such as narcotics, explosives, or missing persons.
Developmental Stages Developmental stages refer to the distinct periods or phases of growth and maturation that animals go through during their lifespan. These stages often involve significant physical, cognitive, and behavioral changes, such as infancy, adolescence, adulthood, and old age.

Differential Reinforcement

A training technique that involves reinforcing specific behaviors while ignoring or redirecting others. It aims to increase the frequency of desired behaviors and decrease unwanted behaviors. Differential reinforcement also refers to the use of varying values of reinforcers to reward varying degrees of proficiency. The greater the proficiency, the higher the reward value.


Distress refers to a state of physical or psychological discomfort, anxiety, or suffering experienced by an animal. It may result from various factors, such as fear, pain, deprivation, or social isolation, and is often associated with negative emotional states.
Dog Trainer An individual who specializes in teaching and modifying dog behavior using various training techniques and methods.
Dog Training The process of teaching dogs specific skills, behaviors, or cues through various training techniques, such as positive reinforcement, shaping, and classical conditioning.
Dominance/Pack Theory Dominance theory is a now-debunked concept that proposed a hierarchical structure and dominance-based social organization in dog packs. It suggested that dogs and other animals strive for dominance and that behavior problems arise from a lack of hierarchical order. However, current understanding emphasizes the importance of individual relationships, social dynamics, and contextual factors in animal behavior.
E-Collar (Shock Collar) A controversial training tool that uses electronic stimulation to deliver a shock or other unpleasant sensation to a dog as a form of punishment or correction. Its use is highly debated, and force-free trainers generally discourage its use.
Emotional Support Animal An animal that provides comfort, companionship, and emotional support to individuals with emotional or psychological disabilities. Unlike service dogs, emotional support animals do not undergo specific training for tasks or work and do not have the same rights as a service animal.
Environment The environment refers to the external surroundings, conditions, or stimuli in which an animal exists. It includes physical factors such as habitat, climate, and resources, as well as social factors such as social interactions, group dynamics, and the presence of conspecifics or other species.


Eustress refers to a positive or beneficial form of stress or arousal experienced by an animal. It can arise from engaging in stimulating or challenging activities that promote growth, learning, or adaptation, without causing distress or negative consequences.


Extinction, in the context of animal behavior, refers to the gradual weakening and eventual disappearance of a previously learned behavior when it is no longer reinforced. It occurs when the behavior no longer produces the expected consequences, leading to a decline and eventual cessation of the behavior.
Extinction Burst An extinction burst refers to a temporary increase in the frequency, intensity, or variability of a behavior immediately following the removal or absence of reinforcement. It represents a last-ditch effort by the animal to regain the previously reinforced behavior before it eventually diminishes during the extinction process.
Fading the Lure A technique used in training where a visual or physical prompt (lure) is gradually reduced or faded to encourage the dog to perform a behavior independently without relying on the prompt.


Fear is an emotional and physiological response to a perceived threat or danger. It is a natural survival mechanism that triggers a range of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological changes in animals, preparing them for fight, flight, or freeze responses.

Fear Aggression

Fear aggression is a defensive response by dogs who perceive themselves to be in some sort of danger, even if the threat is not real or intended. Fear aggression can be triggered by various stimuli including new environments, unfamiliar people, sudden movements, or loud noises. Dogs exhibiting fear aggression may show signs such as baring teeth, growling, snapping, or biting in their attempt to increase distance from the perceived threat.
Fear Period A fear period refers to a specific developmental stage in some animals, particularly dogs, during which they exhibit heightened sensitivity, fearfulness, or reactivity to new or unfamiliar stimuli. Fear periods often occur during critical periods of socialization and can impact an animal's long-term behavior and temperament.
Five Freedoms The Five Freedoms is a set of guiding principles for animal welfare. They include freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express natural behavior, and freedom from fear and distress. These freedoms provide a framework for ensuring the physical and mental well-being of animals in various settings.

Five F's of Fear

The Five F's of Fear are common behavioral responses observed in animals experiencing fear or stress. They include fight (aggressive response), flight (escape or avoidance behavior), freeze (immobility or inhibition of action), faint (loss of consciousness or temporary shutdown), and fidget (restlessness or displacement behaviors).
Fixed Interval of Reinforcement Refers to a reinforcement schedule in which a behavior is rewarded after a consistent and predetermined period of time has elapsed since the previous reinforcement. As an illustration, this could involve providing a treat every 5 minutes to reinforce the behavior.
Fixed Ratio of Reinforcement In this reinforcement schedule, a behavior is reinforced upon reaching a specific, predetermined number of responses. For example, giving a treat every 10 times the dog sits on command.
Flat Collar A basic dog collar made of flat material, typically nylon or leather, used for attaching a leash and identification tags. It is commonly used for everyday walks and general control but is not as safe or effective as a harness.
Flirt Pole A dog toy similar to a fishing rod with a lure or toy attached to a string or rope. It is used for interactive play and exercise, simulating prey-like movements and engaging a dog's natural chasing instincts.
Flooding Refers to overexposure to a fear-inducing stimulus in an attempt to extinguish the fear response. This method can lead to heightened stress and trauma, as it does not allow animals to escape or process their fears gradually, resulting in what can be perceived as overcoming the fear when in reality, the animal is shutting down. This is called learned helplessness.
Fluency Fluency, in the context of animal behavior, refers to the smoothness, ease, and proficiency with which an animal performs a particular behavior. It indicates a high level of skill, automaticity, and reliability in executing the behavior.

Focus (Cue)

Focus is a cue used in dog training to redirect the dog's attention back to the trainer. This is often used to prevent distraction, reinforce previous cues, or aid in complex training tasks.

Force-Free Training

A dog training approach that relies on positive reinforcement, reward-based methods, and avoids the use of aversive techniques or physical punishment. It prioritizes the emotional well-being and cooperation of the dog.
Four Stages of Learning The four stages of learning in dog training refers to the sequential process: Acquisition, where the dog learns the behavior; Fluency, when the behavior is reinforced; Generalization, the dog applies behavior to different contexts; and Maintenance, the behavior is maintained over time.
Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning The four quadrants of operant conditioning refer to the different combinations of positive/negative reinforcement and positive/negative punishment used to modify behavior. They include positive reinforcement (adding a desirable stimulus to increase behavior), negative reinforcement (removing an aversive stimulus to increase behavior), positive punishment (adding an aversive stimulus to decrease behavior), and negative punishment (removing a desirable stimulus to decrease behavior).
Forward Chaining A training method that involves teaching a complex behavior by breaking it down into smaller components and teaching them in a sequential order. The trainer starts with the first step and gradually adds subsequent steps until the full behavior is achieved.


Generalization is the process by which an animal applies a learned behavior or response to similar but distinct situations or stimuli. It involves the transfer of learned skills, associations, or behaviors from one context to another, allowing animals to adapt and respond effectively to new or similar environmental conditions.
Habituation Habituation is a form of non-associative learning in which an animal becomes accustomed to and reduces its response to a repeated or continuous non-threatening stimulus. It involves a decrease in responsiveness or attention over time as the stimulus becomes familiar and loses its novelty.
Harness A device worn by a dog that wraps around the body, typically across the chest and shoulders, distributing the force from leash pulling more evenly than a collar. It is commonly used for dogs with respiratory issues, neck injuries, or those prone to pulling because it protects from damage to the sensitive organs in the neck.
Head Halter A training tool that fits over a dog's head and snout, providing control and gentle guidance by redirecting the dog's head movements. It can help manage pulling and improve leash manners but may require an acclimation period to make sure the dog is comfortable with it before use.
High Drive Refers to a dog's innate or trained strong motivation and intense focus on a particular activity or task, such as herding, retrieving, or performing specialized work. High-drive dogs often require outlets for their energy and mental stimulation.
Homeostasis Homeostasis refers to the internal stability or balance maintained by an animal's physiological processes, allowing it to function effectively in its environment. It involves the regulation of various bodily functions, such as temperature, hydration, metabolism, and hormone levels, to maintain optimal internal conditions.
Humane Hierarchy A framework used in dog training that prioritizes the use of least invasive, minimally aversive techniques when modifying behavior. It emphasizes the importance of positive reinforcement and the avoidance of unnecessary or harmful aversives.
Husbandry Refers to various handling and care practices involved in managing a dog's physical well-being, such as grooming, nail trimming, veterinary procedures, and other routine care.
IAABC IAABC stands for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. It is an organization that promotes and supports the field of animal behavior consulting through education, certification, and professional development opportunities for animal behavior professionals.

Invisible Fence (Electric Fence)

An electronic containment system that uses a buried wire or wireless signals to create an invisible boundary. When a dog wearing a receiver collar approaches the boundary, it receives an electric stimulation, discouraging them from crossing. Such tools have been known to create unintended associations with triggers in the environment and cause unwanted behavioral problems.
Jackpot A term used in dog training to describe a larger or more valuable reward given to a dog for exceptional performance or when they surpass expectations. It provides an extra level of motivation and reinforcement. Jackpots are primarily used when a dog accomplishes a new skill for the first time or finally overcame a behavior they have been struggling with.
Learned Helplessness Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which an animal, after experiencing repeated unavoidable and uncontrollable aversive events, learns to become passive or helpless in subsequent situations, even when escape or avoidance is possible. It is characterized by a perceived lack of control or agency over one's environment.
Learned Irrelevance Learned irrelevance refers to a phenomenon in which an animal learns to disregard or perceive a previously relevant stimulus as irrelevant or unrelated to the occurrence of certain behaviors or consequences. It occurs when the stimulus consistently fails to predict or affect the outcome of a behavior.

Learning Theory

This is a field of psychology that explains how animals learn from their experiences. Key principles include classical conditioning (learning by association), operant conditioning (learning from consequences), and observational learning (learning by observing others). These principles guide much of animal and dog training.
Leash A physical restraint device, typically made of nylon or leather, used to tether a dog to their handler. It provides control, safety, and facilitates communication between the dog and handler during walks or training sessions.
LIMA An acronym that represents a dog training and behavior modification approach based on using the least intrusive and minimally aversive techniques possible to achieve desired results. It emphasizes prioritizing the dog's emotional well-being and avoiding unnecessary aversives.
Luring/Baiting A technique in dog training where a reward or lure is used to guide the dog into performing a desired behavior. For example, using a treat to prompt a dog to sit or lie down.
Maintenance Maintenance, in the context of animal behavior, refers to the sustained performance and continuation of a learned behavior over time. It involves reinforcing or providing ongoing support to ensure the behavior remains consistent and reliable.
Management Management, in the context of animal behavior, refers to the strategic control and manipulation of an animal's environment or conditions to prevent or minimize problem behaviors, promote positive behaviors, and ensure the well-being and safety of the animal. It involves implementing effective routines, structures, and environmental modifications.
Marker A distinct and consistent signal, such as a verbal cue, clicker sound, or hand signal, used to mark the exact moment a desired behavior occurs. Markers serve as precise communication tools and facilitate the timing of reinforcement.
Marker Training A training method that uses a marker, such as a clicker, to indicate that a dog has performed an action properly. It enables clear communication between the trainer and dog, increasing learning efficiency.
Molding A technique in which a trainer physically guides or shapes a dog's body into a desired position or behavior. It involves gentle manipulation to demonstrate the correct action and provide tactile guidance. This method of teaching doesn’t allow the dog to make the appropriate choice, therefore, is less proficient at teaching than methods such as shaping or luring.


The internal or external factors that drive and influence a dog's behavior and willingness to perform specific actions or tasks. Motivation can be based on rewards, instincts, needs, or social interactions.
Muzzle A device worn on a dog's snout to prevent biting or to manage aggressive or reactive behavior. Muzzles come in various styles, including basket muzzles, soft muzzles, and sleeve muzzles.

Negative Punishment

Negative punishment is a behavior modification technique that involves the removal or withholding of a desired stimulus or resource to decrease or discourage a behavior. It aims to decrease the likelihood of a behavior by removing a positive or rewarding consequence.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is the process where negative behavior is brought with some sort of unpleasant stimulus to decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. It strengthens behavior by removing or avoiding an undesirable consequence.
Noise Phobia Noise phobia refers to an extreme and irrational fear or anxiety response exhibited by animals in reaction to loud or specific types of noises. It can cause significant distress and lead to various behavioral and physiological reactions in affected animals.

Offensive Aggression

This is a proactive form of aggression where the dog initiates aggressive behavior rather than responding to a perceived threat. Offensive aggression may involve postures that make the dog appear larger and more threatening, such as standing tall, ears pricked up, and direct eye contact.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is a learning process in which an animal's behavior is modified or controlled by the consequences that follow it. It involves the association between a voluntary behavior and its consequences, including reinforcements or punishments, to increase or decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring again.
Poisoning the Cue A term used to describe unintentionally associating a previously learned cue with a negative outcome or punishment, leading the dog to develop a negative association with the cue. A cue can also become poisoned if used repeatedly without resulting in the desired behavior. This leads to the cue losing meaning to the dog.

Positive Punishment

Positive punishment is a behavior modification technique that involves the application of an aversive or unpleasant stimulus to ensure the behavior does not occur again. It aims to weaken behavior by introducing an undesirable consequence.
Positive Reinforcement Positive reinforcement is a behavior modification technique that involves the presentation or addition of a desirable stimulus or reward to increase the likelihood of a behavior. It strengthens behavior by providing a positive consequence.

Possession Aggression

Also known as "resource guarding", possession aggression is when a dog exhibits aggressive behaviors like growling, snapping, or biting to protect what it sees as its possessions—like food, toys, or territory—from perceived threats.
Predation Predation refers to the act of one animal, the predator, hunting, capturing, and feeding on another animal, the prey. It is a natural ecological interaction that plays a crucial role in regulating populations and maintaining the balance of ecosystems.
Predatory Behavior Predatory behavior refers to the set of instinctual or learned behaviors displayed by predators during hunting or capturing prey. It includes stalking, chasing, capturing, killing, and consuming the prey.
Predatory Drift Predatory drift refers to a situation in dog behavior where a typically harmless interaction suddenly shifts to a predatory response, triggered by certain stimuli that instinctively resonate with the dog's natural hunting instincts.
Premack Principle The Premack Principle states that a more probable behavior can be used to reinforce a less probable behavior. It suggests that engaging in a preferred or high-probability behavior can serve as a reward or reinforcement for performing a less preferred or low-probability behavior.
Prong Collar A type of collar with metal prongs that create pressure around a dog's neck when tension is applied to the leash. It is designed to provide correction or control, but its use is controversial, and force-free trainers generally discourage it.
Protection Dog A dog that has been specially trained for personal or property protection. These dogs undergo rigorous training to respond to threats, guard specific areas, or protect their handlers.

Puppy Socialization

The process of exposing puppies to a variety of people, animals, environments, and experiences during their critical socialization period. It aims to promote positive associations, develop social skills, and reduce fear or reactivity.
Rate of Reinforcement The frequency or speed at which a dog receives reinforcement for a behavior. A higher rate of reinforcement, with more frequent rewards, typically increases learning and motivation.
Reactivity Reactivity in dog behavior refers to a dog's excessive emotional response, often aggressive or fearful, to specific triggers such as strangers, other dogs, or unfamiliar situations, typically indicating stress or lack of proper socialization.
Recall The behavior of returning to the handler with given a cue such as “Come”. It is an important life skill and can be vital for safety and off-leash control.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression occurs when a dog is aroused by a person, object, or another animal, but cannot express or direct their aggression towards it. Instead, the dog redirects its aggression onto a nearby target, which could be a human, another dog, or an object. This type of aggression can occur when the dog is restrained or when the initial target of aggression is unattainable. The redirected target is often one that had nothing to do with the initial source of the arousal.
Reinforcement Schedule A predetermined pattern or frequency of delivering reinforcement based on the dog's behavior. There are a handful of reinforcement schedules, including variable ratio, fixed ratio, variable interval, and fixed interval. They aren't equally effective. Variable Ratio has been proven to create the most proficiency due to its unpredictability.
Reinforcer/Reward Any stimulus or event that increases the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be food, toys, praise, attention, or any other desirable consequence for the dog.


In the context of animal behavior, resilience refers to an animal's ability to adapt to adversity, stress, trauma, or significant change. Resilient dogs recover quickly from frightening or negative experiences, displaying an ability to bounce back to their normal state of behavior and emotion.
Resource Guarding Resource guarding refers to a behavior displayed by animals, typically dogs, in which they protect, defend, or become possessive of valuable resources, such as food, toys, or resting areas. It involves aggressive or territorial behaviors intended to retain control over the resource.
Retractable Leash A leash with a mechanism that allows the length of the leash to be adjusted and extended or retracted as needed. It provides flexibility but can pose safety concerns and reduced control compared to fixed-length leashes. Retractable leashes are typically avoided by dog trainers due to their lack of control at distance and safety concerns.
Sensitization Sensitization is a form of non-associative learning in which an animal becomes increasingly responsive or reactive to a repeated or intense stimulus over time. It leads to an exaggerated or heightened response to the stimulus with repeated exposure.
Separation Anxiety Separation anxiety is a condition characterized by extreme distress, anxiety, or panic exhibited by animals when separated from their attachment figures or familiar environments. It commonly occurs in dogs but can also affect other animals, leading to disruptive behaviors and emotional distress.
Sequential Overload Sequential overload refers to a phenomenon in which an animal becomes overwhelmed or stressed due to a series of challenging or aversive events or experiences occurring in quick succession. It can result in a cumulative effect of stress or emotional strain on the animal's well-being. Unlike trigger stacking, with sequential overload, early events come to predict later ones, causing a heightened arousal before the stressful trigger even appears in the environment.
Service Dog A dog that's soul job is to assist someone with a disability, to perform tasks or work directly related to their disability. Service dogs have legal protections and access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Shaping A training technique that involves rewarding successive approximations of a desired behavior, gradually guiding the dog to perform the full behavior. It breaks down complex behaviors into smaller, achievable steps and has been proven to increase the longevity of the topic learned.
Slip Lead A type of dog leash and collar combination where the leash forms a loop that tightens around the dog's neck when tension is applied. It provides control and is often used for temporary restraint or in shelters but should not be used for training because it is aversive in nature.

Socialization Period

This is a critical stage in a puppy's life, usually between 3-16 weeks, during which they learn to interact with other animals, humans, and their environment. Experiences during this period significantly influence the dog's behavior, temperament, and reactions later in life.
Spatial (Social) Pressure A technique where the trainer uses their body position, movement, or proximity to influence a dog's behavior or movement. Spatial pressure can be used to encourage a dog to move in a desired direction or create space boundaries. Spatial pressure can be considered a form of intimidation and if a dog is not properly acclimated to the pressure, it will act as an aversive.
Spontaneous Recovery Spontaneous recovery is the reappearance of a previously extinguished behavior or response after a period of rest or time without reinforcement. It occurs even when the behavior has not been reinforced during the rest period.
Station A designated area or location where a dog is trained to remain or perform specific tasks. Other common cues for station are “Place” or “Climb”. Stations are commonly used in service dog training, therapy work, and for specific tasks like waiting at doorways.


Stimuli are any objects, events, or circumstances that an animal can perceive and that can elicit a response. This includes anything the animal can sense such as sounds, smells, sights, or physical touches. They form the basis for much of an animal's learning and behavior.


Stress refers to the physiological and psychological response of an animal to internal or external pressures or challenges that exceed its adaptive capacity. It involves a range of physiological and behavioral changes aimed at maintaining homeostasis or coping with the stressor.
Submissive Submissive behavior refers to a set of behaviors displayed by animals as a form of deference, submission, or appeasement towards dominant individuals or in response to potential threats or aggression. It is characterized by submissive postures, gestures, or signals aimed at avoiding conflicts or reducing aggression from others.
Successive Approximation The process of reinforcing incremental steps or behaviors that progressively approximate the final desired behavior. Each step brings the dog closer to the target behavior. This is used to teach a dog using shaping.
Target (Cue) A designated object, surface, or body part that a dog is trained to touch or interact with on cue. Targets are commonly used to teach specific actions or behaviors, such as nose targeting or paw targeting.

Territorial Aggression

Territorial aggression refers to a type of behavior displayed by dogs when they perceive an intruder, either a human or another animal, is invading their perceived territory. This territory can include their home, yard, or any space they've claimed as their own. The aggression can manifest through barking, growling, lunging, or biting. The motivation behind this aggression is typically the desire to protect their area or their pack (including human family members) from potential threats.
Therapy Dog A dog that's purpose is to make the person feel comfort, affection, and emotional support. This can be used in multiple settings such as schools, nursing homes and even hospitals. Therapy dogs undergo specific training and assessments to ensure their suitability for therapy work.
Threshold The level or strength of a stimulus/trigger required to cause a specific behavior or response in an animal. It represents the point at which a behavior or reaction occurs or crosses a particular threshold.
Training Cue A verbal, visual, or physical signal given by the handler to elicit a specific behavior from the dog. Cues are used to communicate desired actions during training.
Trigger Stacking Trigger stacking refers to the cumulative effect of multiple stressors or triggers on an animal's behavior and emotional state. It occurs when multiple stimuli or events contribute to an animal's overall stress level, potentially leading to heightened reactivity or an exaggerated response.
Troubleshooting The process of identifying and addressing challenges or issues that arise during training. Troubleshooting involves analyzing the problem, adjusting training techniques, and finding alternative solutions to achieve desired results.
Variable Interval of Reinforcement A schedule of reinforcement where a behavior is reinforced after varying amounts of time have elapsed since the last reinforcement. For example, giving a treat after 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 3 minutes.
Variable Ratio of Reinforcement A set quota of action before the behavior is reinforced. For example, giving a treat after 3 sits, then 7 sits, then 5 sits. This schedule has been proven to create the highest learning proficiency because the dog never knows when a treat will come and works just as hard after each repetition.
Working Dog A dog trained to perform specific tasks, jobs, or duties to assist humans in various capacities. Working dogs include service dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs, herding dogs, and many others.