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Section M

Marker Word

A sound uttered by the trainer at the precise moment the dog performs a desirable behavior. Usually a short, monosyllabic word like “good” or “yes”, or “nope”.

A reward marker indicates that a reward is on the way.  A no-reward marker indicates that a reward will not be presented.  Not all trainers who use reward markers also use no-reward markers; opinion is divided over whether they are effective or necessary.

Martingale

A flat collar, worn around the dog’s neck, which has two loops. The first loop is fitted around the dog’s neck, and the leash is attached to the second, smaller, loop. When the dog tries to pull his head out of the collar, tension on the least makes the small loop pull tight, which makes the large loop smaller around the neck.

When correctly fitted, the martingale does not choke the dog, but it does make it more difficult for the dog to slip out of the collar and allows the collar to fit more loosely and comfortably around the neck.

Matching Law

In applied behavioral analysis, the Matching Law states that the relative proportion of times an animal will perform a behavior in response to a cue is equal to the proportion of times that animal is reinforced for doing so.

When a behavior is reinforced more often, the animal will choose to perform it more often.  Experiments showed that the relative proportion of responses matched the relative proportion of reinforcement almost perfectly.  In dog behavior, this means that behaviors that are most often rewarded will be most likely to occur in the future.  Behaviors that are consistently rewarded, using a high rate of reinforcement, can be expected to be consistently performed.

References:

Herrnstein R. J. Relative and absolute strength of response as a function of frequency of reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior1961;4:267–272.

Reed D.D, Kaplan B.A. The Matching Law: A Tutorial for Practitioners. Behavior Analysis in Practice. 2011;4(2):15-24.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone made in the pineal gland.  It is synthesized naturally through the breakdown of an amino acid, tryptophan, but is also given to dogs as a dietary supplement.  Melatonin is said to aid sleep and have some calming effects.

Microchip

A microchip is a small device, containing a unique number that can be linked to an online database.  The dog’s owners can enter their contact details alongside their dog’s microchip number in the database, allowing anyone who reads the chip to be able to call them and return their dog.

The microchip is inserted just under the dog’s skin by a vet, usually between the shoulder blades.  It is read using a handheld scanner.

Motivational training

Motivating a dog means creating a desire for him to do what his handler wants, both in general and for a specific behavior at a specific time. What motivates the dog is dependent on his individual preferences, breed predispositions, and the state of his body and mind.

Both compulsion-based and positive reinforcement trainers use the idea of motivation in their training; the term “motivational training” doesn’t refer to any specific techniques or tools.

MRCVS

Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Denotes a veterinarian in the UK.

Muzzle Up!

A project founded by Maureen Backman, with the aim of increasing awareness of muzzles, and decreasing the stigma attached to them.  The Muzzle Up! Project website contains many resources on how to use counter-conditioning to teach dogs to accept wearing a muzzle, and guides on how to choose the best muzzle for different breeds of dog.