Friday, February 14, 2014

Responsible Pet Owner Month - Learn Your Training Terms

Have you ever been to a training class where the trainer mentioned a term and you didn’t know exactly what it meant? One of the most confusing parts of dog training can be the lingo used in training classes. As Responsible Pet Owner Month continues, one of the essential parts of training is in knowing the key terms and words pet trainers use. With an understanding of the most commonly used definitions, success in dog training is easily achievable. 
While there are many useful terms in training, first let’s focus on the basics. These terms are methods of teaching dogs to perform or learn a behavior, and are important for every dog owner to understand before they begin basic training. 

Luring is a term trainers use to describe a method where the dog follows a treat (or toy) to exercise a behavior.
Example: Pulling a treat up over your dog’s head for sit or pulling it forward for stand. Like a fish following a lure, the dog's body follows their nose and their nose is following the treat. Lures should be very quickly faded into rewards. A lure is used to PRODUCE a behavior. A reward is used AFTER the dog offers the behavior.

Capturing is a term coined for when you just happen to catch your dog practicing a behavior and click/reward it. For capturing you’ll need to keep a clicker and small treats close at hand.
Example: To use capturing to teach your dog to lie down, simply wait for your dog to lie down then click/reward it. Capturing is also a great way to have fun actions on command. You can capture things like yawning, sneezing, begging - pretty much anything your dog does that you think is really cute and that you want them to do on cue.

Shaping is rewarding incremental steps to a final behavior. With shaping, you’ll need good timing too, because you must click at just the right moment. Shaping also requires that the dog is clicker responsive.
Example: You can use shaping to get a dog to pick up and hold a light dumbbell. First click for the dog looking at the dumbbell, then up the ante to having the dog touch it with his nose, then licking it, then taking it in his mouth for a moment, then holding it, then picking it up from the floor.
Modeling is the option least used by modern trainers. Modeling uses physical positioning to teach the dog a behavior. 

Example: Pushing a dog’s rear into a sit to teach the sit command. Try to avoid modeling, as it's the slowest and least effective way to train. Because the dog is physically put into position by their handler, it’s unlikely that the dog will remember or offer the behavior on their own. It's always better to get the dog to freely offer a behavior rather than forcing the action on the dog. Modeling makes for very unreliable behavior.

When training your dog, it is important to learn all of the terms associated with dog training. Do your best to educate yourself on additional terms. Words and phrases like “threshold”, “replacement behaviors”, and “impulse control” can often be heard during training. If you are unfamiliar with any language used by your trainer, don’t be afraid to ask! You can also always learn more about pet training by attending one of our Orientation classes. Register for one of our upcoming classes here!


  1. Thank you for this helpful post! I would just add though that clicker training does not have to go hand in hand with any training method. Clickers are intimidating to a lot of people and it would be a shame to avoid a great method like shaping or capturing because of clumsy clicker worries. Marker words (though not as speedily effective) work just fine!

  2. Hey friends how are you I want share with you some dog training tips hope you try its work really work. Learn to listen to your dog. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or person, don’t insist that he say hello. He’s telling you that he isn’t comfortable for a reason, and you should respect that. Forcing the issue can often result in bigger problems down the line. Most people don’t have a problem being very clear about when they are unhappy with their dogs, but, they often ignore the good stuff. Big mistake! Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Let him know when he’s been a good boy. That’s the time to be extra generous with your attention and praise. It’s even okay to be a little over the top. Just because the bag says “a treat all dogs love” doesn’t mean your dog will automatically love it. Some dogs are very selective about what they like to eat. Soft and chewy treats are usually more exciting for your dog than hard and crunchy treats. Keep your eyes open for what he enjoys. There is nothing inherently wrong with telling your dog “no,” except that it doesn’t give him enough information. Instead of telling your dog “no,” tell him what you want him to do. Dogs don’t generalize well, so if your dog jumps up on someone to say hello and you say no, he may jump higher or he may jump to the left side instead of the right. A better alternative would be to ask him to “sit.” Tell him what you want him to do in order to avoid confusion. Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success. Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
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