ABC stands for Antecedents, Behavior, Consequences. It refers to the complete “picture” of a behavior in context. Behaviorists look at an animal’s behavior as being determined by triggers in the animal’s internal and external environment, which are referred to as the behavior’s antecedents. The behavior itself can be analyzed in terms of the function it has for the animal, bearing in mind the antecedents that were there. Whatever changes in the animal’s environment happen as a result of the behavior are called the consequences of that behavior.
Dog behaviorists keep the ABCs of behavior in mind because they can change both the antecedents to, and the consequences of a behavior to make their interventions more likely to succeed.