The Trendsetter in Canine Performance Video!™

Terminology

A

Back to Top A.D.R.K. (Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub) :
The German Rottweiler Club that is responsible for the creation, promotion and enforcement of the German Rottweiler standard and issuance of Ahnentafels (the official German Rottweiler Pedigree).
A.W.D.F. (American Working Dog Federation) :
An organization established in the United States to provider more broad representation of working dog heritage with the aims of preservation and protection.
A.W.M.A. :
The American Working Malinois Association is a club developed to promote and preserve the Belgian Malinois in accordance with the FCI Standard.
AD Title :
An endurance degree during which the dog must trot beside the handler for 12 miles. Upon completion of the distance portion, the dog must complete a few simple obedience exercises.
Affiliative Signals :
Affiliative signals function to promote friendly, cooperative social encounters between individuals who are meeting for the first time, or to provide recognition and continued affiliation for those in established relationships. They usually serve an approach/contact function. Contrast with Agonistic Signals.
Aggression :
Attacks, attempted attacks or threats of attack by one individual directed at another individual. Structurally, threat or attack behavior. In dogs, this usually refers to snarling, growling, lunging, snapping and biting. Functionally, aggression is threat or attack behavior that functions to achieve access to a stimulus, or escape from or avoidance of a stimulus.
Aggressive Signals :
Communication signals involving a threat of attack. A type of agonistic signal, the other type being appeasement signals. See Aggression and Agonistic Signals.
Agility :
The fastest growing dog sport in which a handler guides their dog through a series of obstacles to be judged on time and accuracy.
Agnostic Signals :
Includes attack, escape, threat, defense, and appeasement behaviors. Contrast with Affiliative Signals.
Antecedent :
Conditions present prior to the behavior in question. Antecedents that influence operant behavior are generally divided into three categories: setting events, motivating operations and discriminative stimuli. They each contribute to how likely a behavior is to occur.
Arousal :
Activation of the nervous system generally. Stimulates action, or even inaction.
Associative Blocking :
When a weak predictor of reward and a strong predictor are presented together, the dog attributes the reward to the strong predictor. The strong predictor actually interferes with or blocks any further conditioning of the weak predictor.
Aversive Stimulus :
A stimulus that an organism acts to evade, escape from, or avoid. Aversive stimulation can result in some problematic secondary effects, such as aggression, counter control, social disruption and emotional escape/avoidance behavior. Aversive stimulation involves fear- or pain-eliciting stimuli.

B

Back to Top Back-Chaining :
The transfer of control of a learned response from one cue to another cue that consistently occurs prior to the first cue.
BH (Begleithund) :
A pre-requisite test for IPO titles which consists of a Temperament Test, Obedience Test and Traffic Test.
Bite Threshold :
Level of stress or stimulation at which a dog resorts to biting.
Bridge :
A bridge is a stimulus that closes the gap in time between the release and presentation of the reinforcer.

C

Back to Top C.D. (Companion Dog) :
A title earned for a dog meeting the requirements three times for the Novice Obedience class.
C.D.X. (Companion Dog Excellent) :
A title earned for a dog meeting the requirements three times in the Open Obedience class.
CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) :
A national registry of dogs certified free of heritable eye disease by the American College of Veterinary Opthamologists.
Chaining :
A procedure in which an animal is trained to perform a chain of behaviors in sequence. Each behavior provides the cue for the next behavior, and only the last behavior in the chain results in delivery of a primary reinforcer.
Concomitant Odor :
Concomitant odors are any odor that competes with or is paired with target odor and can include handler scent, dog scent, packaging scent, reward object scent or disturbed substrate such as earth, dust or residue through hard surface contact. Repeated contamination during training can cause the dog to bridge to these odors and alert.
Conditioned Emotional Response :
Form of conditioned response whereby emotional reactions such as fear, anger or joy are elicited.
Contingency :
In respondent conditioning, contingency refers to a positive correlation between the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. In operant conditioning, it refers to a relationship between an operant and a consequence, in which the consequence occurs if, and only if, the operant occurs. Generally, it refers to the relationship between a behavior and its controlling environmental variables.
Continuous reinforcement :
When reinforcement is delivered after every single target behavior.
Counterconditioning :
A conditioning process in which the animal's previous conditioned response to a stimulus is changed or reversed with new conditioning. In most cases, counterconditioning is used to change a conditioned emotional response from fearful to joyful, or anxiety to relaxation. It is the principle underlying systematic desensitization.
Courage :
The dog's willingness to forego personal safety to engage a threat to protect himself or the handler. During competition, the dog is given a rating of Pronounced, Sufficient or Insufficient. Courage and Fighting Instinct encompass the dogs willingness to bypass the option to escape when present and engage the threat and demonstrate a willingness to fight.

D

Back to Top Discrimination Trials :
The process of teaching an animal to respond to a stimulus, through reinforcement to that stimulus, while extinguishing or punishing responses to other stimuli.
Discriminative Stimulus :
An antecedent stimulus that indicates that a specific contingency is in effect. Saying "sit" indicates to a dog that, if they sit now, some given schedule of reinforcement will be in effect. When the word "sit" is not given, this contingency is not in effect.
Displacement Behavior :
Typically regarded as anxiety produced behaviors that occur when multiple drives conflict. Behaviors such as spinning, barking, nipping, yawning. Out of context or irrelevant behaviors.
DVG (Deutscher Verband der Gebrauchshundsportvereine) :
The oldest and largest Schutzhund training organization in the world. It exists for one purpose: The training and titling of dogs of all kinds.

E

Back to Top Empowerment :
A state of confidence in one's ability to operate on one's environment effectively and to create reinforcing contingencies. While empowerment is conducive to psychological well being. Learned helplessness is its antithesis.

F

Back to Top FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) :
An International Organization that is an umbrella for member countries that issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges.
Fear :
An emotional response, involving both operants and respondents, characterized by signs of sympathetic nervous system arousal, stress, and escape or avoidance behaviors.
FH (Fahrtenhund) :
An advanced tracking degree in Schutzhund or IPO. The dog must travel an approximately 1300 pace track at least three hours old.
FMBB (Federation Mondio Berge Belge) :
The world union for the working Belgian Shepherd Dog.
Free Shaping :
A training procedure in which successive approximation to a terminal behavior are reinforced. Successive approximations to the terminal behavior are captured; that is, the trainer does not prompt responses, but rather waits for the approximation and provides reinforcement when it occurs. Once the approximation is stable, a closer approximation is required for reinforcement. This continues until the terminal behavior is achieved.
Frustration :
Emotional behavior resulting from being blocked from achieving one's goals. Frustration can precipitate aggressive responses.

G

Back to Top Gekort BisEzA :
A lifetime Breed Suitability classification earned by Rottweilers and Dobermann's that meet stringent requirements and have produced quality offspring.
Generalization :
The process of learning that two events or stimuli should both trigger the same reaction. This is a critical process in any training, but especially when working with reactivity. Generalization is what makes the dog more predictable; situations that we consider similar are not necessarily similar to the dog, without generalization training. The application of an idea or experience beyond the confines it was experienced in.

H

Back to Top H+++ :
A German hip rating where severe hip dysplasia is evident. These dogs can't be bred.
HD (HD Frei) :
A German hip rating indicating that there is no sign of hip dysplasia.
HD+ :
A German hip rating that indicates that slight hip dysplasia is seen, the lowest rating a dog can receive and still be eligible for breeding. These dogs cannot receive a Korung.
HD++ :
A German hip rating that moderate hip dysplasia is evident. These dogs are not eligible for breeding.
HD+/- :
A German hip rating that indicates minor changes in the hips are seen.

I

Back to Top Incorrect response marker (secondary negative punisher/signaled non-reward) :
A cue which simply tells the dog that reward will not be available (i.e. try another behavior next time; you can stop persisting in this behavior). Becomes a terminal signal in this case just as the release is a terminal behavior.
Instrumental Discriminative Stimulus :
A cue that tells the dog that a reward is available and what it must do to gain access to that reward (i.e. the cue "sit")
Intermediate Bridge (Correct marker Response "reassurance command") :
A cue that tells the dog to expect reinforcement but to not stop performing.
IPO (Internationale Prufungs-Ordnung) :
A set of rules set by the AZG which is one of the component organizations of the VDH (the all breed kennel club of Germany) that are adhered to in the sport of Schutzhund.

K

Back to Top Korung (Angekort) :
A German breed suitability test for Rottweilers and Dobermann's that, if passed, is earned for two years at which time it expires. During this period the dog's offspring are assessed for quality. If they possess quality then the dog may try to obtain the lifetime Breed Suitability, the Gekort BisEzA.

L

Back to Top Latent Inhibition :
Dogs associate reward most easily with stimuli that are new to them, thus dogs easily associate reward with unusual and strong odors, like Marijuana or dynamite. However, if a dog has already smelled an odor many times, and this odor has not predicted either reward or punishment, the dog learns to ignore it. Once a dog has learned to ignore a stimulus, the dog will have great difficulty learning to associate that stimulus with reward.
Latent Learning :
A type of conceptual learning that occurs that may be below the level of consciousness to be expressed later.
Learned Helplessness :
When an animal is exposed to uncontrollable and severe aversive stimulation, they will frequently abandon efforts to escape or avoid it and will not be able to learn escape or avoidance behaviors, even when these options become readily available. Learning is inhibited, and behavior tends to be suppressed.

M

Back to Top Marker :
A signal that through conditioning indicates a correct behavior that will result in reward. Typically, to be effective, the signal should be within 1.5 seconds of the behavior.
Motivation :
Any input that promotes behavior. These inputs can be positive, negative or the removal of a positive or negative input. Motivation is generally thought of in terms of positive inputs.

N

Back to Top Negative punishment :
A procedure in which a behavior results in the withdrawal of a stimulus and, as a result, future frequency of that behavior decreases. It is also a basic principle of behavior.
Negative reinforcement :
A procedure in which a behavior results in the withdrawal of a stimulus and, as a result, future frequency of that behavior increases. It is also a basic principle of behavior.

O

Back to Top OFA (The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) :
An organization that collates and disseminates information concerning orthopedic and genetics diseases in animals. The maintain a database of hip and elbow ratings that, when considered, serve to lower the incidence of inherited disease.
Operant :
Behavior that operates on the environment to produce consequences. Goal-directed behavior.

P

Back to Top Partial reinforcement :
Fixed-ratio; variable-ratio; fixed-interval; variable-interval.
Pink Papers :
A dog with uninterrupted Schutzhund lineage.
Positive Punishment :
A procedure in which a behavior results in the presentation of a stimulus and, as a result, future frequency of that behavior decreases. It is also a basic principle of behavior.
Positive Reinforcement :
A procedure in which a behavior results in the presentation of a stimulus and, as a result, future frequency of that behavior increases. It is also a basic principle of behavior.
Premack Principle :
Discovered by David Premack, this principle states that activities can be used as reinforcers. In particular, a behavior can be reinforced by the opportunity to do a more likely behavior. That is, if the animal gets to do a certain behavior right after doing a lower probability behavior, the lower probability behavior will be reinforced.
Primary Reinforcer :
Those that don't require pairing or conditioning to achieve reinforcement. Food, water, procreation or behaviors rooted in innate reflexive responses such as hunting and chasing behaviors are obvious examples. They are self-reinforcing, driven by instinct and the need to survive.
Pro-social Behaviors :
Friendly or otherwise seeking an approach or contact. Behaviors used as communication to another dog (play bow, approach, etc.) that generally result in the other dog walking closer and engaging in social activity (sniffing, play, etc.). Pro-social behaviors are a type of social courtship.
Prompting :
A signal (verbal or otherwise) that is used to elicit activity or the approximation of a behavior. It's a means to getting a dog engaging in a behavior prior to assigning a formal, final cue to the finished behavior.

Q

Back to Top Quadrants of Learning :
In the theory of operant conditioning, learning is split into four quadrants: positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment. Positive and negative are indications of whether the learning took place because a stimulus was added (positive) or removed (negative).

R

Back to Top Raise Criteria :
Increased expectations on reinforceable behaviors. The trick with raising criteria is to only make it a little harder, so that your expectations are still easily met and changes in behavior are achieved.
Reactivity :
Fear, aggression, or frustration responses above the levels considered normal.
Reinforcement :
Increase in the future frequency of a behavior resulting from it's consequences.
Reinforcer :
A stimulus that strengthens the behavior that precedes it.
Respondent :
An unconditioned response (reflex) or conditioned response that is elicited by a stimulus (unconditioned or conditioned).
Respondent Conditioning :
Occurs when a neutral stimulus is paired with a stimulus that elicits a reflexive response. After conditioning has occurred, the neutral stimulus itself elicits the same type of response. How we make previously meaningless stimuli elicit reflexive behaviors.

S

Back to Top Schutzhund :
Schutzhund is a German word meaning "protection dog." It refers to a 3 phase sport consisting of tracking, obedience and protection. The sport is designed to test breed worthiness and focuses on developing and evaluating the traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Originally designed for German Shepherd Dogs, Schutzhund is now an international sport enjoyed by owners of many breeds by owners of all ages. A test intended to identify intelligence and utility, Schutzhund measures the dog's stability, both mentally and physically, in addition to endurance, structural efficiencies, willingness to work, courage, trainability and ability to follow scent. Schutzhund now adheres to I.P.O rules and many simply refer to it as I.P.O.
Secondary Reinforcer :
A release command or stimulus that takes on the power, through conditioning, of the primary reinforcer through direct association with the primary reinforcer.
Shaping :
Teaching a desired behavior by rewarding an approximation of the desire response, then gradually requiring a modified response that more and more closely resembles the desired behavior in order to earn reward.
Shaping :
A process whereby successive approximations to a target behavior are reinforced in increments until that target behavior (called the terminal behavior) is achieved. The behavior may be captured as it occurs or prompted. See also Free-Shaping.
Sharpness :
A term used to describe the level of reactivity in a dog. A low threshold for stimulation leads to a dog that may overreact to stimuli. This overreaction is not desirable in Schutzhund/IPO and in a dog lacking confidence may be displayed as a fear biter.
Sign Tracking (autoshaping) :
The conditioning of dogs' consumatory actions to the original location of reward, often despite the fact that the behavior results in non-reward; driving to the reward hand or to the origin of the reward.
Stimulus :
A thing or event than can influence behavior.
SV (Verein fur Deutsche Schaeferhunde) :
The parent club for the German Shepherd Dog in Germany founded by Max von Stephanitz.
Systematic Desensitization :
A procedure, usually involving deep relaxation training; construction of a hierarchy of stimuli that elicit fear, anxiety or phobia; and counterconditioning through the hierarchy.

T

Back to Top T.D. (Tracking Dog) :
A title earned when a dog has passed an AKC-licensed tracking exam.
T.D.X. (Tracking Dog Excellent) :
A title earned when a dog has passed an AKC-licensed Tracking Dog Excellent exam.
Terminal Bridge (release command) :
Tells the dog that reward is forthcoming, he can stop performing- that what he was doing when released is correct.
Tertiary Reinforcer :
The reassurance command becomes a tertiary reinforcer after being conditioned with reward after the secondary reinforcer (terminal bridge/release command).
Threshold :
The line between levels of stimulation where a behavior occurs in response to a stimulus.
Trigger :
An event, person, animal or stimulus that causes a reaction, typically when a reaction is abnormal or undesired.

U

Back to Top U.D. (Utility Dog) :
A title earned for a dog meeting the requirements three times for the Utility Obedience class.
USDAA (United States Dog Aility Association) :
The world's largest independent authority for the sport of dog agility.

V

Back to Top Voran :
A German term for the hold and bark in the blind.

W

Back to Top WH (Wachhund or Guard Test) :
A basic Obedience/Guard test with no bite work.

Z

Back to Top ZtPr/BST (Zughttaughlichkeitsprufungen) :
A Breed Suitability Test which combines physical and temperament evaluations for Rottweilers and Dobermann's. The title is recognized until the dog achieves his hip ratings.