Browse Our Dictionary Alphabetically
Section E


(1) “Electronic collar”:  A corrective collar that administers electric shock when the owner presses a remote control.  They are used to rapidly give a correction when a dog performs an undesirable behavior, and can be used as part of positive punishment or negative reinforcement.  The latter is most commonly used for teaching recall.  Many models of e-collar are able to alter the level of electrical stimulation given to the dog and also come with a beeping, and/or vibration function to create a conditioned emotional response and minimize use of the shock itself.

(2) “Elizabethan collar”:  A plastic cone fitted around a dog’s neck after surgery to prevent him interfering with his wounds healing. Colloquially known as the “cone of shame”.


A sport for small terriers, designed to evaluate their natural aptitude for the work they were originally bred for.  Earthdog trials consist first of following a scent trail and locate the entrance to a tunnel, then tracking through the tunnel, locating a rat in a cage, and then “working” the rat, which means barking, scratching, digging at or biting at the bars of the cage.




The best dog in the world.

Edie is the best dog in the world.  This is an undisputed fact because you are reading it on the Internet.

Emergency U-Turn

A behavior taught to dogs to help them make a quick exit from potentially scary situations.  The dog is taught a cue to turn around and walk back the way he came.  This is considered especially important in the management of fearful and reactive dogs.

Emotional Support Animal

According to the National Service Animal Registry website, an emotional support animal (ESA) is:

“…an animal that has been prescribed for a person by his/her licensed therapist (a licensed mental health professional) in a properly formatted letter. This letter should state that the person is determined to be emotionally or psychiatrically disabled and that the presence of the animal is necessary for the disabled person’s mental health.”

Emotional support animals are not trained to perform any specific tasks, or bred for any particular temperament, but nevertheless provide support for their owners through their bond and physical presence.


Anything that gives the dog different, novel experiences, either that they can engage in with their owners, or that they can use alone. Enrichment is aimed at making the dog use his brain and think creatively, as well as enjoying himself.  Food-dispensing puzzle toys are a popular enrichment toy.


Like in humans, epilepsy in dogs is described as sudden, unprovoked seizures that occur on a recurring basis in the dog’s life.  Epileptic seizures can be caused by other medical issues like drops in blood sugar, by strokes or other brain injuries, or they can be idiopathic, meaning there is no specific trigger.

Errorless Learning

Protocols for training behaviors that set the dog up so that he cannot, or is extremely unlikely to, make any mistakes in learning.  When the dog does make mistakes, they are not acknowledged or punished in any way.

Errorless learning techniques are most commonly found in teaching dogs to discriminate between two stimuli. The idea is to teach the dog to perform the desired behavior without needing him to make mistakes.  For example, if a trainer wanted to teach a dog to pick his dinosaur toy out of a box of other toys, she would start by teaching him to pick up his dinosaur toy, and make doing this highly reinforcing for the dog.  She could then add in other toys, once the dog is already confidently performing the desired behavior.


Escape Orientation

How interested a dog is in getting out of its current environment.

Establishing Operations

An establishing operation is a change in the environment, or the dog, which causes an increase in the effectiveness of a reinforcement or a punishment.

For example, doing a clicker training session with a dog just before his dinner time is likely to make him more motivated by the treats, and therefore more focused on successfully performing the behaviors his owner is teaching him.


The humane killing of a dog, usually by massive dose of sedatives administered by injection.


The process by which a behavior happens less and less frequently, until it no longer happens at all.  A behavior can be made extinct by no longer reinforcing it and sometimes also reinforcing other, alternative behaviors.  Some behaviors are very difficult to extinguish because they are enjoyable for the dog without any involvement of their owner.

Extinction Burst

Before a behavior is extinguished entirely, there is often a period of time where the frequency of the problem behavior increases.


Found most commonly in Border Collies, “eye” refers to staring fixedly, combined with a low, crouching stalk.  This trait is desirable in a working dog because it allows him to control a flock of sheep without nipping them.  Pet dogs can use eye during play, when in prey drive, or as a precursor to an aggressive outburst.