13 Jargon Terms Every Pooch Parent Should Know

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If you’ve just invited your new best friend home, you’ve got a ton to learn.

But you already know that…

Lucky for you there’s loads of great information out there. From potty training to curbing jumping and everything in between.

So today, I’d like to focus on something I think is often overlooked…

Dog training jargon.

How Important is Jargon Really?

Before I get into the meat and potatoes, here’s why the jargon is so darn important…

If you know the jargon, you know how to encourage your dog to learn and offer behaviors.

It also helps to keep dogs engaged in learning. And an engaged dog is a problem-solving and invested dog.

If you don’t know this lingo, all you’re basically doing is clicking and rewarding.

Which is a far cry from how powerful positive reinforcement is and what you can do with it.

And, the problem with this is, if you get to a bump in the road where regular ol’ click-n-reward is not working, you have a problem.

So now that’s out of the way…

Here are the jargon terms that every new pooch parent should know…

Dog Training Jargon for Pooch Parents

Knowing the essential dog training jargon will boost your training potential

13 Jargon Terms Every Pooch Parent Should Know

  1. Release Marker – A sound. Can be a clicker or verbal cue. You can use any word you like, as long as you stay constant. This marker also releases your dog from the behavior.
  2. Duration Marker – A sound. Again, can be a clicker or a verbal cue. This marker supports your dog to stay invested in a behavior. This is essential when teaching things like ‘stay’ It can be used for time and distance training.
  3. Reinforcer – Something that makes the desired behavior more likely to happen. In positive training this can be a toy, play, food reward or petting.
  4. Conditioned Reinforcer – A clicker or verbal cue that has value for your dog because you paired it with something positive that your dog wants.
  5. Charging the Mark – A specific sound that you’ve paired with something positive. You’re teaching your dog the sound has value.
  6. Shaping – Supporting your dog to problem solve small steps that build up to a more complicated behavior.
  7. Capturing – Here your dog learns without your help. Except for markers and reinforcers. I love this method to capture a dog in a behavior.
  8. Luring – This is a hands-free way to move a dog into a behavior. It works well for things like sitting, heeling and down.
  9. Generalization – Training all behaviors in different scenarios. This helps your dog understand the behavior no matter what the scenario is. If your dog is able to stop chasing the squirrel and focus on you when you ask, then you’re on the right track.
  10. Counter-Conditioning – Teaching alternative or opposing behaviors to change how your dog reacts to a stimulus. So if your dog jumps up in excitement when you come home, teaching them that all 4’s on the ground means good stuff is about to happen, you’ve taught them an opposing behavior.
  11. Competing Motivators – Two things your dog finds value in are drawing their attention at the same time. You’re playing fetch with your dog. But he’s also interested to investigate the ducks in the pond.
  12. Self-Reinforcing Behavior – A behavior your dog finds rewarding within itself. So there are no outside reinforcers. Nuisance barking is a classic example.
  13. Fading – Reducing the use of rewards and also the clicker so that your dog performs the behavior on your verbal cue.
Dog Training Lingo

Knowing the lingo will make you a better trainer


You don’t have to be a professional dog trainer to train your dog successfully. Simply by having a grip on the basic jargon will help you engage with your pooch.

And if you’re ever faced with a bump in the road of training, it’s a great relief to have a little more knowledge than just plain ol’ click-n-reward.

Check out these 5 simple steps to manage your training sessions like a pro.

Are you struggling to train your dog not to jump?  Here are my favorite ways to curb jumping behavior.

Looking for the best online dog training programs?  Check out my reviews and recommendations of the programs available.

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About the author: Gabriella is a certified professional dog trainer with the Victoria Stilwell Academy. She has a special passion for teaching GSD guardians to train their dogs with kindness and clarity using positive reinforcement methods without force, pain, or fear. Join “Dog Speak” for free dog training tips and advice from a professional dog trainer.

  • Russel

    So, I’m kind of new to this whole dog training thing, and after reading about these terms (namely #13) I’m wondering something. “Fading” is when you reduce the use of treats or a clicker so you only have to use verbal cues for a command. Will a dog really continue obeying a verbal command even after you’ve stopped rewarding them for it for a long time? Or will you always have to reward them at least once in a while?

    • Hi Russel,

      Excellent question! So the treats (or any kind of reward) are only used as a tool to teach and establish a desired behavior. The moment this is done, the rewards should be faded out. Check out this article under the “Reinforcement Schedules” section for more details on all the ways rewards can be faded out.

      Of course, there’s nothing wrong with offering a reward for a behavior that’s already been established from time to time. It’s always a good idea to practice established behavior over time to avoid our dogs becoming ‘rusty’. Things like recall and leave it should be practiced very often and rewards are good here especially when the criteria is high. But still making sure to keep a variable schedule so as not to become reliant on rewards.

      Also as another example, I like to incorporate feeding as a reward for impulse control practice. I’ll often ask for an established set of behaviors before feeding time. So for a few days it might be spin – look at me – sit – and then a release to eat. The next couple of times it might be sit – look at me – wait – and then a release to eat.

      Hope this helps to answer your question.

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