The Wide World of Training Terminology

Have you ever started reading a dog training article, encountered a lot of terminology you hadn’t heard before, and felt a bit lost? You aren’t alone! The world of dog training is full of words and shorthand that can seem like another language at first, and can make it feel harder to get the information you need. Here are a few of the common terms and abbreviations you might see in the dog training world:

  • R+: an abbreviation for “positive reinforcement”, R+ refers to training that relies on adding something pleasant to make a behavior happen more often. This could be treats, play, praise – whatever your individual dog finds rewarding. This training style is also called rewards-based training and is the type of training we do here at Rover Rehab because it is proven to be both effective and humane!
  • Fear-free: training that explicitly does not use force, corrections, or coercion to meet your training goals and change your pet’s behavior. Did you know that trainer Lyz is a Fear Free Certified Professional?
  • Aversive: an event or tool that causes pain, fear, or emotional discomfort. This is something we avoid during training as it increases the odds that our dogs will show fear or aggression!
  • Dominance Theory: the theory that many dog behavior problems stem from dogs wanting to be “dominant” over humans, and that humans must be the “alpha” in order to solve behavioral problems. This theory is common, but did you know that it isn’t actually true? It is based on a debunked study of captive wolves, and it turns out that our dogs don’t think that way at all! Instead of being the “alpha”, focus on being a benevolent guardian for your dog.
  • Desensitization (DS) and Counter Conditioning (CC): training techniques where we gradually introduce our pets to things they might be uncomfortable with and pair the experience with good things. These techniques are helpful for reactivity, aggression, fear, anxiety, and more!
  • Cue: a signal to a dog to perform a specific behavior. At Rover Rehab we intentionally use “cue” in place of “command” to signify that our dogs are sentient beings who can make choices!

Are you feeling overwhelmed or confused by all the training and dog parent information on the Internet? Do you want access to a full terminology glossary, helpful resources, and professional training advice? I’ve launched a new project for you!

Make It Click is a podcast and community all about training, enriching, and loving your canine best friend. When you join the club on Patreon you’ll get access to podcast episodes, curated training content, and a supportive community of dog guardians just like you. You’ll also be able to submit questions for the Q&A portion of the podcast and have access to live office hours with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – that’s me! Join the club on Patreon at

One thought on “The Wide World of Training Terminology

  1. This is great information! I definitely felt overwhelmed when I started training my dog and this helps to make a lot of the information out there more accessible. I can’t wait for the next blog post!

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