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Section L

Latent Learning

The psychological phenomenon where a dog becomes more skilled at a behavior he is learning from one training session to the next. This is because the learning from each session is being consolidated with the neural pathways of the brain in the time between sessions.


A concept found in some dog training philosophies, particularly rank reduction, pack theory and dominance-based training.  According to trainers who believe in the importance of leadership, obedience is more likely to be consistent, and behavioral problems are less likely to arise, if a dog can come to believe that his owner is his leader.

Learned Irrelevance

When a stimulus is repeated over and over again with no consequences, a dog will eventually stop reacting to it.

Similar to habituation, although unlike habituation, once a dog has learned that something is irrelevant, he will not spontaneously begin seeing it as relevant again.

Learning Theory

A part of the discipline of psychology, learning theory encompasses the conceptual frameworks used to describe how dogs learn and retain information.

Learning to Learn

The idea that as a dog spends more time in training, he becomes better and quicker at learning new behaviors because he understands the training framework and can make better guesses at what he is supposed to do.

Leash Aggression

A type of barrier frustration.  Dogs can become frustrated when they are prevented from having an enjoyable social interaction with other dogs or people because they are on a leash, and this frustration can sometimes become so intense that it tips over into aggression and even redirection.
Many leash aggressive dogs display no behavioral problems when they are off leash, which distinguishes them from fear aggressive dogs.

Leash Wrap

A technique to more securely restrain a leashed dog, for example if he is suddenly caused to become panicked and there is a chance he might slip out of his collar.  The leash is clipped to the collar, wrapped around behind the dog’s front legs, then looped back through the collar so that it tightens when pulled.


LIMA stands for Least Invasive Minimally Aversive. It is a description of how to use the Humane Hierarchy to guide decisionmaking in behavior modification.  According to LIMA, a trainer should always use the method involving the least punishment first, and only consider more invasive or aversive interventions when it is clear that the current plan is not working.

Long Line

A training leash designed for working on recall, or for safety in open areas.  The line can be anything from 20ft to 50ft long, and can either be held by the owner or attached to a stationary object.

Look At That (LAT)

A game, detailed in Leslie McDevitt’s book Control Unleashed, which uses operant conditioning as part of a behavior modification protocol.  The dog is marked and rewarded for looking at a trigger, which is far enough away that the dog does not feel anxious about it.  The behavior of looking at the trigger can then be put on cue; this is said to relieve some of the dog’s anxiety as the trigger is then perceived to be part of a trick.

Putting looking at the trigger on cue is said to be good for behavior modification because it allows the dog to automatically refocus on the handler, making him less likely to react to the trigger.

Loose Leash Walking

Also called “polite walking”. The name given for a dog walking with his owner, without dragging behind or pulling on the leash. Distinct from heeling, in that loose leash walking does not stipulate that the dog must be in a specific position relative to the handler.

Lure Coursing

A sport for dogs, where they chase a mechanical lure across a course.  The course can have turns and obstacles, such as jumps, which simulate chasing a rabbit or a hare in real life.  Dogs usually run in groups of two or three, and move up through the ranks of the sport by being first in their group.

Lure coursing competitions are usually restricted to purebred sighthounds like Greyhounds, Salukis and Irish Wolfhounds

Lyme Disease

A tick-borne disease that affects dogs in many countries, also called Lyme borreliosis.  Lyme disease can cause many medical complications, and is associated with changes in behavior such as depression and increased sensitivity to touch, which may be misidentified as problems with obedience.

Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but in some cases symptoms may never completely go away.