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Section N

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors

NADOI is the oldest organization providing certification for dog trainers in the United States.

According to their Position Statements, NADOI endorses the use of all tools available to trainers, provided they are not “cruel or unnecessarily harsh”.  NADOI-Endorsed trainers must pass an evaluation and demonstrate that they have knowledge of learning theory, as well as that they have worked as a Head Trainer or equivalent for two years.

Naturally Reared

NR – Naturally Reared or sometimes Naturally Raised, means that a dog or puppy is not being given the usual kinds of preventive medical interventions.  Breeders and owners who believe in Natural Rearing do not vaccinate their puppies or adult dogs, and may only use nutraceutical, plant-based and/or homeopathic preparations to treat any illnesses or infestations.

Advocates of Natural Rearing sometimes use the term “Poison Reared” – PR – to distinguish themselves from those breeders who choose to follow the recommendations of the veterinary profession.

Negative Behavioral Contrast

If a dog is expecting a high value reward for a behavior and receives a low value reward instead, we can expect subsequent performances of that behavior to be slower and/or less accurate because the dog has lost motivation for the task.

For example, if a dog is used to being rewarded with steak for performing a retrieve and gets a piece of kibble instead, we can expect his next retrieve to be slower and the dog less aroused.

Negative Contingency

When a conditioned stimulus signals a decrease in the liklihood that the unconditioned stimulus will occur.

If Pavlov rang a bell every time he took food away from the dogs, this would be a negative contingency – the dogs would learn that the bell predicts the food going away.

Negative contingencies produce inhibitory conditioning, meaning that when a conditioned stimulus is presented to a dog, they inhibit their responses.  The dogs would stop salivating when they heard Pavlov’s bell, if they associated it with food being taken away from them.

Negative Punishment

One of the four quadrants in learning theory, shortened to P-. When a dog performs a behavior, something the dog values is taken away with the aim of producing a decrease in that behavior.

For example, when a puppy bites too hard in play, the owner gets up and leaves the room. The puppy values the owner’s presence, associates the bite with the owner leaving, and does not bite again.

Negative Reinforcement

One of the four quadrants in learning theory, shortened to R-. A consequence to a behavior that takes something negative away from the dog, therefore making the behavior more likely to occur under the same circumstance.

For example, an owner says “Sit!” and pushes down on a dog’s back end, which feels uncomfortable. The dog sits, thus relieving the pressure. Next time the owner says, “Sit!”, the dog is more likely to do so.


Literally, “fear of new things”; a dog that shows stress signals in the presence of things that he has never encountered before.  Some dogs have a fear of new objects but are normal when exposed to new people or dogs, whereas other dogs are likely to become anxious when exposed to any new stimulus regardless of type.

Neophobia has been related to poor early socialization in puppies; if they are not exposed to a great many new things during their early socialization period they are considered to be at risk of developing various anxieties, including a fear of novel objects.


Appleby, D. W., Bradshaw, J. W. S., and J. T. M. Pluijmakers (2010) Exposure to video images between 3 and 5 weeks of age decreases neophobia in domestic dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 126(1-2): pp.51-58


A disorder of the neurological system, accompanied by dysfunctional behavior. A neurotic dog is almost always in a perpetual state of anxiety and may show OCD behaviors or panic.

No-Reward Marker

A marker – usually a word like “Nope!” or a sound like “Uh-Uh” – that signifies to the dog that he will not be rewarded for performing a behavior because he has made an error.

For example, if an owner gives her dog the cue to sit, and he lies down instead, the owner could use a no-reward marker (NRM) instead of her usual reward marker.  The idea is that the dog would then understand that he should try something else.

No-Reward Markers are not used by all mark and reward trainers, and are never used in errorless learning scenarios or in free shaping.  There is some debate about whether NRMs cause frustration, and ought to be part of the Purely Positive Training philosophy.


Non-Associative Learning

When a dog learns that one thing causes another without the need for repeated exposure. For example, a dog might remember where in the park he nearly caught a squirrel, and go back to that location next time he visits the park.

Nose Work

A sport for dogs based around scent detection. As Nose Work is done by only one dog at a time, it is considered to be beneficial as enrichment for reactive dogs.


The study of how elements of a dog’s diet interact with elements of his genome.  For example, different compounds in the diet can alter the expression of some genes, which is considered by some researchers in the field to be a promising avenue for preventive medicine in the future.


A company that makes plastic chews and toys for dogs, and edible long-lasting treats.