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Glossary of Dog Training Terms

Behavior - almost anything a dog does is a behavior. Walking, running, coming when called (not coming when called), sit, down, stand, rollover, shake a paw, retrieving, barking, jumping, herding, etc.


Click - a unique sound made by a mechanical device known as a clicker (or toy cricket). It is possible to use a short phrase such as 'good' or 'yes', instead of the click but this is not recommended for starting out. When the dog (or cat, elephant, parrot.....) understands how the game is played it is possible to replace the click with a different conditioned reinforcer.



Command - see Cue


Conditioned Reinforcer - An event marker ('the click') that indicates to the dog that what it is doing is worthy of a treat.


Cue - The signal used to elicit a behaviour from the dog. The signal may be verbal 'sit', or visual (a hand signal) or auditory (a whistle). With Clicker Training, the cue is not added until the behaviour is known by the dog and is being offered on a regular basis.


Punishment - used to stop unwanted behaviours.


Reinforcement Schedules - varying schedules of reinforcing behaviours.


Continuous schedule of reinforcement - every time a behaviour occurs it is reinforced with a click and a treat.


Variable schedule of reinforcement - a schedule which reinforces behaviours on an intermittent basis. The dog may be required to perform more than one behaviour or may be required to repeat a behaviour before being rewarded.


There are a number of other reinforcement schedules. Some relate to time, some to distance etc. There are a number of excellent articles available on this subject


No Reward Marker (NRM) - an indicator to the dog that the behaviour it is offering is not the one we want. We used to use the word wrong. But, being human, wrong becomes Wrong which becomes WRONG! This is not what we are trying to imply. The dog is not being 'bad' - we are trying to say that what the dog is doing is not worthy of a click and treat - please try something else. We now recommend using something like 'too bad' or 'uh-uh'.


Reward - see Treat.


Treat - anything the dog likes. Initially it is probably food but this can be and should be replaced with other things such as a toy, a game, a scratch behind the ear. In fact anything that the dog wants or enjoys can be the treat or primary reinforcer.