Browse Our Dictionary Alphabetically
Section C

Caching

A fixed action pattern of behavior where a dog attempts to bury something. In wolves and other canids, caching generally refers to food, although dogs have been known to cache other high value items like toys. Wild canids scatter caches of food around their territory; they make small holes in the ground, drop the food in the hole, and then scoop and tamp the earth over the food. This helps keep uneaten food safe from scavengers.

Because it is a fixed action pattern and not consciously controlled, dogs do not stop attempting to cache something even if the behavior is not actually having an effect. Dogs can even be seen scooping and tamping air over a particularly high value item, if they cannot find anything more suitable.

 

Calming Cap

A device that is fitted over the dog’s head to restrict his vision. It is claimed to ease a dog’s anxiety by blocking out some of what he can see, and was originally designed for dogs who become anxious about travelling in a car.  The Calming Cap was invented by Trish King of Canine Behavior Associates.  It is currently made and marketed by Thundershirt and also referred to as ThunderCap.

Calming Signals

Any behaviors that are designed to appease people or other dogs, or to calm the dog who is performing them. Examples include:

  • Licking lips
  • Turning the body away
  • Yawning
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Raising a front paw

Some experts, like Turid Rugaas, believe that these behaviors are intended as communication with humans or other dogs, whereas others see them as ways for a stressed dog to make himself feel better.  Understanding calming signals is considered to be a vital part of success in training, especially in behavior modification.

Canicross

Canicross is the sport of cross-country running with your dog, which originated as a way for sled dog racers to train in the off-season. The dog’s handler wears a belt around their waist, which attaches to a padded dog harness with a bungee line.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Also called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.  A relatively newly-diagnosed condition in senior dogs, which presents some similarities to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. CCD is characterised by disturbed sleep and changes in activity patterns, a loss of housetraining, aimless wandering and the onset of compusive behaviors.  The condition can be managed with medication if it is caught in early stages; selegiline is commonly prescribed.

Canine Good Citizen

The CGC is a program run by Kennel Clubs in various countries.  It is administered by the AKC in the United States, and is open to all dogs that are registered with them. The CGC consists of a 10 step test designed to evaluate a dog’s obedience, impulse control and social skills.  Dogs who pass their CGC are eligible to take the advanced Community Canine test.

Canine Massage

A kind of massage therapy for dogs, used as part of rehabilitation, to help reduce the risk of injury after exertion, and to promote relaxation.  Massage therapists use the same strokes on dogs as they do on humans, although in different locations because of the differences in canine and human anatomy.  Some canine massage therapists use exclusively Western techniques, whereas others incorporate techniques like acupressure into their practice.

Although not all states require licensing or certification, the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage offers certifications for professional canine masseuses.

 

Capturing

A technique used in mark and reward training.  The trainer waits for the dog to naturally perform a desired behavior, and then marks and rewards the behavior, eventually putting it on cue.  For example, a clicker trainer might click and treat a dog for stretching in the morning in order to teach “take a bow”.

Carpet Mill

A type of treadmill for conditioning or rehabilitating dogs.  It is made of a length of carpet or other material and a set of rollers.  When the dog runs, the carpet moves, keeping the dog in position There is usually an attachment point for a harness and barriers on either side of the running surface, so that the dog cannot turn around or jump off the mill, and is kept away from the sides where injury may occur.
Carpet mills are not electrically powered, so the dog has the ability to control his own speed.

Cavaletti

A series of cavaletti (singular: cavaletto) is several low bars, which are arranged one after another so that a dog must step over each of them in turn, without any steps in between. The height and spacing of cavaletti can be varied depending on the size and ability of the dog. They are used to teach a dog awareness of his body, balance, and stride and are popular in training for agility, as well as in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

CCPDT-KA

Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers – Knowledge Assessed.  These letters after a person’s name mean that they have passed the exams required for certification by the CCPDT, but they have not yet had their practical skills assessed.

CCPDT-KPA

Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers – Knowledge and Practice Assessed.  These letters after a person’s name mean that they have passed the exams required for certification by the CCPDT, and they have had successfully had their practical skills assessed.

CER

A CER is a Conditioned Emotional Response.  CER+ stands for Positive Conditioned Emotional Response, and CER- stands for Negative Conditioned Emotional Response.

A CER is when a dog learns to associate the presence of a stimulus with a (pleasant or unpleasant) consequence, and changes his behavior toward the stimulus as a result. One example is, a dog wags his tail when he sees the leash.  This is a CER+.

Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers

A professional organization for dog trainers that seeks to raise the overall standard of training. The CCPDT offers examinations on learning theory and practical applications for trainers who wish to become certified.  Certified trainers have either CCPDT-KA or CCPDT-KPA after their name.

Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist

A professional qualification overseen by the Animal Behavior Society. The candidate for a CAAB certification must have met all of the requirements for an ACAAB, and also has a PhD in a behavioral science or a DVM with a behavioral residency, along with two to five years of professional experience in applied animal behavior.

Certified Trick Dog Instructor

A Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) is a dog trainer who specializes in dog tricks. CDTI qualifications are administered by Kyra Sundance of “Do More With Your Dog!”.  To become a CDTI, the applicant must pass a written and a practical exam, either through self-study of after attending a weekend workshop, and demonstrate that their dog can perform tricks from Intermediate of Advanced Trick Dog title lists.  CDTIs train using positive reinforcement techniques, especially mark and reward.

Chaining

A behavior chain is when more than one behavior is performed in response to a stimulus. For example, telling a dog to go to his bed and then telling him to lie down.  After enough repetitions, when the dog is told to go to his bed, he will automatically lie down without being told.

Chaining is the deliberate creation of a behavior chain.  Back chaining is a kind of chaining where the final behavior in a chain is taught first and given a very strong reinforcement history, so that the dog develops a CER+ to performing it.  Each behavior is reinforced by the opportunity to perform the next behavior in the chain.

Choke Chain

A length of chain with a ring at one end and a handle at the other.  The handle goes through the ring to make a loop of chain, which is then placed around the dog’s neck.  Choke chains tighten indefinitely around the dog’s neck and are designed to make pulling on the leash aversive.

Citronella

Citronella is an oil with a pungent smell.  The smell is aversive to most dogs and has been made into a spray that owners can use as a punishment.

A citronella collar is a bark collar that has a small container of citronella attached.  The device is triggered by the sound of the dog barking, and sprays up into the dog’s face.

Classical Conditioning

Also known as Pavlovian, or respondent conditioning.

There are three stages to classical conditioning:

1. Before conditioning, an unconditioned stimulus produces an unconditioned response.  For example, a dog salivates when food is put in front of it.

2. During conditioning, a neutral stimulus – something that does not usually elicit any behavior at all in the dog – is presented before the unconditioned stimulus. For example, a bell is rung immediately before food is put in front of the dog.  This is done many times, so that they dog comes to be able to use the neutral stimulus to predict the arrival of the unconditioned stimulus.

3. After conditioning, the dog has learned that the neutral stimulus predicts the unconditioned stimulus.  He will start to salivate when he hears the bell because he anticipates the arrival of food.   The bell is now a conditioned stimulus, because it makes the dog respond in the same way he would to the unconditioned stimulus.

The key difference between classical and operant conditioning is that in classical conditioning, the dog does not have to do anything on purpose, only to react to the stimulus in the way it normally would.

Classical Conditioning can be positive or negative, building a pleasant or unpleasant emotional association.

ClickerExpo

A set of weekend-long events organized by Karen Pryor Clicker Training, held on two different dates in the United States and one date in the UK.  Their purpose is to spread knowledge and information about clicker training.  There are seminars, demonstrations, round-table discussions and lectures where dog trainers, behaviorists and passionate amateurs can enhance their knowledge and meet each other.

Clomipramine

A drug sometimes prescribed by vets to treat anxiety and/or aggression in dogs. It is specifically recommended and licensed by the FDA as part of the treatment of separation anxiety, but is widely prescribed off-label for general anxiety. The brand name is Clomicalm.

Clonidine

A short-acting anti-anxiety medication, often prescribed as an alternative to alprazolam.

Commissures

The tissue that joins the upper and lower jaw.  Anxious dogs often exhibit long, or tight commissures, giving them the appearance of having a long mouth.  In contrast, the commissures of a snarling dog are very short.

Compulsion Training

Training techniques that aim at creating an environment where the dog only has the option to perform the behaviors the trainer desires him to and cannot – or would be very unlikely to – choose to do anything else.  Usually this is accompanied by heavy use of punishment to obtain compliance.

Conditioned Punisher

An object, behavior, or sound that is punishing to a dog because he has been conditioned to associate it with unpleasant consequences. One example is the dog’s own name – if an owner only calls her dog when she wants him to come in from playing in the yard, the dog’s name can become a conditioned punisher because it has been associated with being taken away from something fun.

Conditioned Reinforcer

An object, behavior or sound that is positively reinforcing to a dog because he has been conditioned to have a positive emotional reaction to it through associative learning. One example is hand clapping – if an owner claps whenever the dog performs well, and gives the dog treats or the chance to play with a toy, the dog will begin to enjoy the clapping even when it is not paired with anything.

Conditioned Reponse

A response that becomes associated with something that does not usually cause that response.  For example, when the dog has learned that Pavlov always rings the bell before he delivers food, he will begin to salivate as soon as he hears the bell.  Salivating is a conditioned response to the sound of the bell ringing, since the dog would not have done this if he hadn’t learned that there was an association between the bell and the food.

Conditioned Stimulus

Something the dog has previously ignored or not noticed becomes relevant to the dog and elicits a response after it has become associated with a consequence.

For example, Pavlov’s bell becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits the salivating response, after the dogs have learned that the bell is associated with being fed.

Conflict

In dog behavior, we say that a dog is conflicted or experiencing conflict when he is unsure of what he wants to do in a situation, or when he is experiencing a desire to do more than one different thing.  Conflicted dogs are stressed.

Example: a dog is afraid of strangers, and a stranger is offering him a treat.  The dog wants to move forward to take the treat, but also wants to move away from the stranger offering it.  The conflict can cause the dog to become more stressed and act unpredictably.

Consolidating Stage

In learning theory, the consolidating stage of learning is when the dog understands the behavior but the behavior is not yet reliable; the dog may not have generalized it or may still make some mistakes.  It is mid-way between the initial acquisition stage, and the final maintenance stage.

Constructional Aggression Treatment

CAT is a behavior modification technique developed by Dr Jesus Rosales-Ruiz and Kellie Snyder. The technique involves exposing the dog to something that it is usually aggressive towards or frightened of at a distance where those reactions are not triggered, then waiting for the dog to offer a calming signal or appeasement behavior. When the dog offers the behavior, the trigger should be removed.

Contingency

A complete description of the way the environment is arranged, the stimulus, and the behavior the dog performs.

An operant contingency is a description of the conditions under which a behavior produces a response – either a reward or a punishment. A respondent contingency is a description of the conditions under which an unconditioned stimulus is paired with a conditioned stimulus to create an association.

A zero contingency is where the unconditioned and conditioned stimuli occur randomly, so no association is made.

Coprophagia

When a dog eats feces, either his own or another dog’s.  Coprophagia is common in puppies and is thought to occur in about ten percent of adult dogs.  It is usually considered a behavioral habit, although it can also be caused by medical issues.

Correction

Giving a correction means administering a punishment to a dog as soon as he performs an undesirable behavior.

“Correction” can also refer to the aversive stimulus itself: e-collars are often advertised as having multiple “correction levels”, meaning different strengths of shock.

Counter-Conditioning

Counter-conditioning (CC) is a type of classical conditioning used for behavior modification. The dog is exposed to something that usually causes him to become frightened or aggressive at a distance where he sees it, but the bad reaction is not triggered. As soon as the dog sees the trigger, he is given a food reward. The reward is not dependent on the dog performing any behavior. The aim of counter-conditioning is to change the dog’s emotional response to his triggers from negative to positive. A dog that feels positively about something will no longer feel the need to behave aggressively or fearfully towards it.

Counter-conditioning is often paired with desensitization because both happen at the same time during a successful CC setup.  This is why trainers often use the acronym “DS/CC” to refer to this method of behavior modification.

Crate

A confined space, usually a cuboid, with an entrance at one end that can be closed behind the dog. Crates are usually made of canvas, plastic sheeting, or a steel wire mesh.

Crate and Rotate

A method of management for owners of multiple dogs with aggression issues towards one another.  When one dog is interacting with the owner in the household, the other dog is confined to a crate.  The owner’s time is split between all dogs.

Crate Training

The process of teaching a dog to enter a crate and spend periods of time confined to the crate.

Crate training can be used for:

  • Housetraining
  • Destructive or thieving tendencies when left alone
  • A safe place for a dog suffering from storm phobia

Cue

Anything – visual, tactile, auditory, or otherwise, that signals to a dog that a given behavior should be performed.  Putting a behavior on cue means teaching the dog to associate a cue with a desired behavior.

A “command” is another word for cue, more closely associated with the trainer using a word to elicit the behavior.

Jerk

A method of punishing a dog. A short, sharp tug on the dog’s leash or collar with the aim of causing him some pain, which is aversive. Also called a “leash pop”.

The Culture Clash

A book by Jean Donaldson, now considered one of the classics of dog training.  The Culture Clash sets out a philosophy of dog training according to science-based principles, focusing on operant and classical conditioning.

In the book, Donaldson argues that the folk ideal of what a dog is can lead to some bad assumptions about what they are capable of and what motivates them, which in turn can lead to bad decisions when it comes to training and everyday life with pet dogs.