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16 Dog Training Terms You Need to Know Right Now!

dog being trained using dog training terns


16 Dog Training Terms You Need to Know Right Now!

Most of us have taken pet training courses, or at least heard about them. But, many of the dog training terms used can be confusing to us. Almost as if they are in a different language!

Don’t worry; these dog training terms are easier to understand than you might think!

1. Personality

dog smiling big

The mix of traits that make up an animal’s unique character.

It is the combination of a pup’s behavior, temperament, and emotions. Qualities can include playfulness, curiosity, friendliness, aggressiveness, shyness, etc.

A mutt’s personality develops in response to their genetics and training.

2. Temperament

jack russell terrier

Temperament is 100% genetic. It’s a doggy’s set mental qualities. Training can shape the outcome of a pooch’s temperament, but cannot change it.

Pups of the same breed sometimes share almost the same personality qualities. These can include activity level, focus, strength, adaptability and more.

For example, people bred Jack Russell Terriers to chase small game while hunting. So, many will have a habit of chasing small animals.

Breeds like Border Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs originally helped herd farm animals. Now, many owners report their furry friends tend to “drive” their small children.

3. Dominance Theory

wolf pack

Cesar Millan made this controversial term popular during his program “The Dog Whisperer.” But, the term was already very popular among trainers before Millan’s TV show.

It came from a study in the 1930s watching captive wolves. These wolves fought to gain dominance, which created a hierarchy in the pack.

Scientists used this study to try to understand the world’s wolf population. But, the behavior of this group of wolves should not have been applied to all wolves, and especially not all canines.

Then, there was little knowledge of natural canine behavior.

Today, we can train dogs better because we know more about their biology. 

Facts show that a pack of wild wolves behaves more like a human family unit. They do not fight for dominance, so we do not have to fight for control over our puppy.

Frankly, the old “Dominance Theory” in dog training terms is no longer as popular as it once was. Now, we train our furry friends by using positive reinforcement. We should not be mean to our pets or make them afraid of what will happen to them if they do not behave.

4. Socialization

dog sniffing cat

4th in the dog training terms is exactly what it hints – developing good social skills. Expose Fido to as many different types of animals and humans as possible. Then, he will learn the right way to behave no matter who is around him.

Good socialization is very important to help prevent nervous, fearful or defensive behavior.

Fido tends to develop most social skills with his litter, during his first 8 weeks of life. After, it is the responsibility of the owner to introduce the puppy to other animals and humans. This introduction is especially important with children.

It’s important that man’s best friend develops positive, enjoyable experiences with all creatures!

5. Conditioning

Training the change of a behavior. By repeating training methods, the chance of the desired behavior increases.

6. Classical Conditioning

First developed by popular psychiatrist Ivan Pavlov.

This dog training term refers to a doggy’s unconscious reaction to repeated stimuli.

For example, Pavlov would ring a bell when the fella was about to receive food. Fido learns the bell means he is about to receive food, and begins to salivate hearing the bell ring.

7. Operant Conditioning

7th in these dog training terms is operant conditioning. In this type of training, positive or negative consequences control behavior.

For example, if your woofer comes when you call him, give him a treat. Slowly, the connection between obedience and a treat is established. Your rascal will be more likely to repeat the behavior again because he will want the reward of a treat.

8. Counter-Conditioning

dog running from vacuum

A trainer builds a positive emotional response to something in an environment. This is usually done to reduce a pup’s natural, but negative response.

Not all trainers are able to train this way because it is advanced.

You aren’t just teaching your dog a behavior, you are teaching him to enjoy something he never liked before.

In simple terms, let’s say your dog is afraid of vacuums. Give your fella a treat every time you vacuum. Do this until his feelings change because of how much he wants the reward!

9. Desensitization

The 9th of these dog training terms means to expose Fido to something in low amounts. The amount should be so low that he doesn’t notice. And, the exposure should slowly increase.

For example, you could teach your pet to enjoy swimming with desensitization.

First, throw a stick into the water right in front of your pooch. He will only have to get his paws wet. But, little by little, throw the stick further out into the water, until he has to swim to retrieve it.

10. Shaping

dog jumping over hurdle

Break a behavior into small parts. Then, give rewards at each tiny step until you have built a full behavior.

For example, agility trainers do not start their dogs at a champion level. First, they start small. They build difficulty over time, and with it, a pup’s confidence builds too.

To teach a pooch to leap hurdles, a trainer starts by training his four-legged friend to walk over a pole on the ground. After the trainer shapes the behavior, the dog will be able to leap over hurdles that are several feet in the air.

11. Reinforcement

When a trainer increases the chance of a behavior based on the training methods they use.

12. Positive Reinforcement

golden retriever gets treat

Reinforcement caused by an addition. Usually, this addition is enjoyable or reward-based.

13. Negative Reinforcement

Most people assume this means something uncomfortable or painful for the dog. But, it is simply reinforcement caused by subtraction.

14. Positive Punishment

punishment dog training terms

Means adding an undesirable stimulant to lower the chance of a pet’s behavior. Example: yelling, the tightening of a slip collar (choke chain), etc.

15. Negative Punishment

Next, negative punishment is taking away from a tail-wagger to discourage a behavior. But, this isn’t often used today. Unlike humans, puppies don’t understand this concept.

16. Consistency

happy boxer

Last but not least, #16 of our dog training terms refers to getting the same response from Fido every time.

Every one of these dog training terms aims to achieve consist behavior for your furry friend.

Trainers should also practice consistency in their training. Consistency is training regularly and the same way every time. Or else, risk causing confusion in your pup.

We want your dog to be happy and well-trained using these 16 dog training terms!

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