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Section R

Rage Syndrome

A kind of neurological problem, most commonly found in English cocker spaniels and show lines of Springer spaniels.  Rage syndrome is also called Sudden Onset Rage (SOR), Springer rage, and idiopathic aggression.  It is characterized by a sudden outburst of aggressive behavior, often preceded by a ‘glazed over’ expression, and followed by an immediate return to normal.
Rage syndrome can be diagnosed with an electroencephalogram (EEG) and has a strong genetic component.
There is some dispute over whether rage syndrome is an identifiable medical condition or whether it is usually the result of misdiagnosing some other type of aggression, such as resource guarding.


Rally, sometimes called Rally-o, is an obedience-based dog sport, where the dog and handler move through a series of obedience exercises whilst following a course.  Along the course, there are ten or twenty signs instructing the handler what to cue the dog to do at that point.  The instructions get more complex as the dog progresses through the ranks of his sport.

Random Sampling

When a dog performs a variety of the different behaviors it knows without being cued to do them, in the hopes of getting more reinforcement.

For example, a dog that has been told to sit and stay can sometimes try to shake, or sit pretty, or spin around at the same time.

Excessive random sampling can lead to problems with putting behaviors on stimulus control and with marking and rewarding the correct behavior, as the dog can throw out many behaviors in a short time.

Rank Reduction

Part of dominance based training, rank reduction techniques are aimed at fostering a power dynamic between a dog and his owner, where the handler assumes a leadership role.  According to pack theory, dogs will be more obedient if they believe that their handler is their leader.  Many, but not all, rank-reduction techniques involve an element of punishment.

Rate of Reinforcement

For a behavior, the rate of reinforcement (Rf, sometimes written ROR) is how often a behavior is reinforced in a given time.

For example, asking a dog to sit twenty times in a minute, and rewarding after every sit, is considered a high rate of reinforcement.  Asking for a sit three times in a minute, and rewarding after every sit, is considered to be a low rate of reinforcement.

Raw Feeding

A type of diet for dogs based on uncooked foods, primarily raw meats, usually without the addition of grain or soy.  There are different models of what the ideal diet ought to look like; some diets include fruits and vegetables whereas others are exclusively based on animal protein.

Reactive Rover

Classes designed specifically for anxious, frustrated and aggressive dogs, usually covering elements of obedience and behavior modification in a situation that does not put the dogs under stress and over threshold.
These classes can have many different names, like Feisty Fido, Difficult Dogs, Doggie Delinquents, etc


A general term for a behavior problem in dogs that usually manifests as some of the following behaviors:

Some dogs are reactive to one specific trigger, for example the presence of other dogs, others are generally likely to show these reactive behaviors to a variety of different things, or to a sudden change in the environment.


The general term given to a dog returning to his handler on cue.


An online dog training course created by Susan Garrett.  It focuses on teaching dogs through the use of very short daily sessions, which are set up as games the dog can enjoy playing.  Registration for Recallers opens once a year, and the course lasts for seven weeks.


Anything that increases the frequency of a desired behavior in a dog.  For example, a treat, or a toy, or the sound of his own barking.  Reinforcers are sometimes categorized into primary and secondary, which refers to whether the reinforcer is something that all dogs find naturally reinforcing, or something that has specific value for this dog through coming to associate it with pleasurable experiences.

Reinforcer Sampling

When a trainer motivates her dog to respond by offering a small amount of a reinforcer, in order to make the dog anticipate more of the reinforcer as a reward for performing the desired behavior.  For example, a trainer might motivate her dog to come when called by showing him that she has his favorite toy in her pocket.

Reinforcing Fear

The idea that if you pay special attention to, or try to soothe, a frightened dog, his behavior will be reinforced and he is more likely to be afraid in the future.

This is a myth; soothing and paying attention to a dog who is afraid is more likely to make him feel safer, thus less likely to be afraid.

Relaxation Protocol

A set of mat work exercises developed by Dr Karen Overall. The RP involves rewarding a dog for showing genuinely relaxed behavior on a mat, and gradually introduces various factors like distractions, distance from the handler, and duration. The aim is to teach the dog to remain relaxed even in changing and novel environments.

Release Word

A cue that signals to the dog that they can move from the position the trainer has them in. For example, a trainer might say “okay” to tell the dog he can get up from his down-stay.


How often a dog performs a given behavior on cue. Clicker trainers look for around 80% reliability – the dog successfully performing the cued behavior eight times out of ten – before introducing more complexity, distraction, distance or duration to the behavior.

Rescue Remedy

A type of over the counter supplement marketed as being able to relieve anxiety in both humans and dogs. It is made of flower extracts at extremely low concentrations, using similar principles to homeopathy.

Use in dogs is controversial as there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy of this product.

Resource Guarding

When a dog shows aggressive behavior when he is threatened with having something he values taken away from him.  Resources can be anything the dog determines to be worth guarding, including food, toys, furniture, and people.  Examples of resource guarding behaviors include:

Resource Holding Potential

A term coined Dr John Bradshaw, referring to the way dogs perceive the ability themselves and others have to hold onto resources they deem valuable, like food.  Through observation, a dog can estimate his RHP relative to other dogs around him, which tells him whether he is likely to win in a physical conflict over that resource, as well as how much the other dog values the resource.

Retractable Leash

A length of tape or line attached to a spring-loaded reel, which lengthens and shortens as the dog moves towards and away from the handler.  Some models have a mechanism to lock the leash in place so that it cannot retract or give out.  Also known as a “Flexi-Leash”.

Return of Fear

A psychological phenomenon in which a source of *anxiety that has previously been successfully extinguished spontaneously reoccurs.

According to trainers, ROF can be treated in dogs by going back into the process of counter-conditioning.  If treated correctly, ROF is usually short-lived.


A consequence for a behavior that the dog sees as desirable, such as a food treat, a game of tug, or a chance to chase squirrels.

Roman Harness

A back-clip harness with two loops – one around the base of the neck and one around the chest – attached with one strap that runs down the spine, and one that runs down the belly.