Browse Our Dictionary Alphabetically
Section T

Tagg

A small GPS tracking device, worn on a dog’s collar, that allows his owners to find his location. Particularly useful for dogs that have been stray or feral, or have a strong tendency to escape from a property.

Target Stick

Any stick that a dog can be trained to touch the end of, usually with his nose.  Some specially-designed target sticks have a clicker built into the handle, others have a ball at the end, but any stick can be used for the job.

Targeting

When a dog is trained to touch a target – usually with his nose or paw – on cue. Targeting is a way to teach a dog to perform behaviors, for example a dog might be taught to lie on his bed by first being cued to target the trainer’s hand when it is held over the bed.

Territorial Aggression

Some dogs have an instinct to protect a certain area; usually the home, the yard, or sometimes a part of the neighborhood. Some dogs can become more reactive inside what they perceive to be their territory, and become offensively aggressive to people who come into these areas, especially strangers and strange dogs.

The Culture Clash

A book by Jean Donaldson, now considered one of the classics of dog training.  The Culture Clash sets out a philosophy of dog training according to science-based principles, focusing on operant and classical conditioning.

In the book, Donaldson argues that the folk ideal of what a dog is can lead to some bad assumptions about what they are capable of and what motivates them, which in turn can lead to bad decisions when it comes to training and everyday life with pet dogs.

The Four Fs

A more complete description of different strategies for conflict resolution in dogs than the cliché “fight or flight“, the four F’s are Fight, Flight, Freeze and Flirt. When a dog freezes, it stiffens completely and remains as still as possible until the perceived danger is passed. Behaviors classed as “flirt” appeasement and play behaviors.

The precise definition of the four F’s varies – fight and flight are always listed, but the latter two can be any out of Freeze, Faint, Flirt, and Fuck.

Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs are used to give comfort and emotional support to people who need it.  Examples include children with special educational needs or emotional difficulties, people in senior care or assisted living facilities, and people in hospital.
Some therapy dogs are trained by specialist organizations, but many are trained by their owners.  Unlike emotional support dogs, therapy dogs must be trained in basic obedience and temperament tested, and also registered before they can work with clients.

Thorndike’s Law

The Law of Effect proposed by Edward Thorndike in his 1911 book, Animal Intelligence, is

Of several responses made to the same situation, those which are accompanied or closely followed by satisfaction to the animal will, other things being equal, be more firmly connected with the situation, so that, when it recurs, they will be more likely to recur; those which are accompanied or closely followed by discomfort to the animal will, other things being equal, have their connections with that situation weakened, so that, when it recurs, they will be less likely to occur. The greater the satisfaction or discomfort, the greater the strengthening or weakening of the bond.

This law forms the foundation of operant conditioning, as it describes how a behavior is made more likely to happen when it is positively reinforced, and less likely to happen when it is punished.

Three-Term Contingency

The three-term contingency describes the process of a dog learning that his behavior has an effect on what happens to him in his environment.

Term 1: A stimulus is present in the dog’s environment;

Term 2: The dog’s responds to the stimulus;

Term 3: The environment changes.

For example, dogs who spend a lot of time out in a yard can sometimes develop problems with alarm barking.  This is because they learn that when a person walks along their fence (Term 1), and they bark at the person (Term 2), the person always goes away (Term 3).

Threshold

The point at which a dog’s internal state changes from one thing to another. Usually used in behavior modification to describe the moment when a dog goes from just noticing a trigger, to displaying stress signals or aggressive behaviors about that trigger. It can also describe the point where a dog starts to notice that a trigger is there. Thresholds are often described in terms of distance, for example, a dog may notice that a man is nearby at 50ft away, and then begin to bark and lunge at the man when he is 10ft away.

When a dog is described as being “over-threshold”, this usually means he is anxious or aggressive and he cannot calm down.  One measure of whether a dog has reached this point is whether he will take treats when offered, although this is not entirely reliable.

Through a Dog’s Ear

A company that publishes music aimed at promoting relaxation in dogs. There is a series of CDs, MP3 downloads available, and a small portable speaker called iCalmDog.

Throw Chain

A short length of heavy chain. It is intended to be used as an interrupter – when a dog performs an undesirable behavior or loses focus during training, the trainer drops the throw chain and the noise interrupts the dog. Throw chains are not intended to hit the dog, although dogs can find the noise to be aversive, meaning the device can be an unconditioned punisher that can cause them to become stressed.

Throwing Behavior

Another term for random sampling.  When a dog tries various different known behavior in order to work out how to get his owner to respond.  A dog might throw behaviors as part of a training session, or as a way to get his owner’s attention.

Thundershirt

A brand of compression device for dogs. The Thundershirt is fitted in a similar way to regular dog clothes, but unlike regular clothes, it is designed to gently compress the dog’s body. The compression is said to promote calmness and relaxation.  The company’s marketing material states that Thundershirts can be used alongside any kind of behavior modification, but was initially created to help dogs with a phobia of storms or fireworks.

Tie Out

A length of rope or cord designed to attach to a dog’s collar at one end, and an immovable outdoor object, like a stake or the side of a building, at the other end. It is used to secure a dog that is being kept outdoors.

Tie-Down

A short length of rope or cord, like a leash, designed to attach to a dog’s collar at one end and an immovable indoor object, like a wall or a couch, at the other. It is used to keep a dog from moving too far from a specific area like a bed.

Titre Test

A test that is designed to determine levels of immunity to a disease, by measuring the amount of antibodies present in a blood sample.  Titre tests are being used to determine whether a dog is immune to a disease and does not need further vaccination, or whether he lacks immunity and is at risk without vaccination. These tests are not always accurate, however, as having a high titre level does not always guarantee immunity.

Tracking

Tracking refers to a dog’s ability to find objects, animals or people by following a trail of their scent.

Tracking is used by working dogs in the police, military and search and rescue organizations, and is also a sport for pet dogs.  In the sport of tracking, scent trails are laid out for dogs to follow.  As the dog advances through the ranks of the sport, he will be presented with longer, older trails to follow through more challenging environments.  Any breed of dog can enjoy tracking, although the sport is traditionally dominated by scenthounds such as Beagles.

Training Discs

Small metal discs that are designed to be thrown or dropped when a dog performs an undesirable behavior. The noise they make is intended to be an interrupter, giving the owner a chance to refocus the dog on something more rewarding for both of them, but some dogs find being startled by the noise frightening or otherwise aversive, so training discs can be considered to be an unconditioned punisher for those dogs.

Training Levels

A system of positive reinforcement training developed by Sue Ailsby. The Levels lay out how to teach a set of foundation behaviors and gradually increase the difficulty of training so that that behaviors become reliable and proofed against distractions.

Trazodone

A fast-acting anti-anxiety medication, available on prescription from a vet. Trazodone is most commonly prescribed as a daily medication, alongside a longer-acting medicine like fluoxetine.  This is because studies have shown that trazodone can increase the effectiveness of these medications due to a synergistic effect.

Treadmill

An electric mill, or e-mill is a type of treadmill used for conditioning or rehabilitating dogs.  Veterinarians recommend only exercising large dogs on treadmills that are specifically designed for them – whilst small dogs can use treadmills for humans, larger dogs have a longer stride and need a longer, wider belt to avoid injury. Treadmills for dogs also have other safety features, like barriers, to keep the dog in the safest position.
Unlike slat mills and carpet mills, a dog is not usually harnessed into an electric treadmill, because he cannot control the speed and needs to be trained and supervised to make sure the equipment is a safe and pleasurable experience for him.

Treadwheel

A large wheel, covered inside with a mat or padded surface, that a dog can run in like a hamster wheel. Treadwheels are used for conditioning and rehabilitation. They can be sized for any breed of dog. Dogs can be trained to get in, use, and get off the treadwheel by themselves, although manufacturers guidelines state that they should not use the equipment unattended.

Treat n Train

A feeding device, invented by Dr Sophia Yin, that dispenses treats when activated by a remote control, allowing the dog to get a treat when the owner is at a distance.  Also called a Manners Minder.

Treibball

A herding-based dog sport.  Large balls are arranged in front of a goal area, and the dog is encouraged by his handler to herd all of the balls into the goal within an allotted time.

The dog and handler team is scored on how many balls have successfully made it into the goal area, and also how well the team worked together.

Any dog can compete in Treibball as the activity uses traditional obedience and herding cues to prompt the dog.  However, dogs bred for their herding ability such as Border Collies are considered naturally more adept at the sport.

Trick Dog

A program of titles developed by Kyra Sundance of “Do More With Your Dog!”.  Trick Dog titles are earned by showing that your dog can perform a variety of different tricks on cue.  More advanced titles require complex and chained behaviors.

Trick Dog titles can be earned online, and do not require specialist trainers to be present or a specific method to be used.  However, Do More With Your Dog! certifies instructors who specialize in dog tricks using positive reinforcement under the Certified Trick Dog Instructor (CTDI) scheme.

Trick Training

Training for behaviors that aren’t considered part of everyday obedience. Tricks are almost always taught using positive reinforcement-based methods like clicker training.

Some trainers prefer not to use this distinction, as the dog does not understand the difference between a trick and an obedience behavior.

Trifexis

An FDA-approved monthly tablet for dogs, which prevents fleas, heartworms and intestinal worms.

Side-effects are listed as vomiting and lethargy, but some pet owners claim that Trifexis is linked to more serious concerns.  However, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the FDA state that no evidence has been found to support this at the present time.

Trigger

In behavior modification, a trigger is anything that causes a specific dog to react with anxiety or aggression.

For example, a client’s dog might be afraid of men, so when a trainer develops a behavior modification plan, she refers to men as “triggers”, even though her plan is developed so that the dog won’t actually be triggered to react aggressively, because she is instructing the client to stay far enough away from men that the dog can remain calm.

Trigger Stacking

When a dog is exposed to something that concerns or frightens him, it can take him a while for his stress levels to go back down. If the dog is exposed to other scary things before his stress levels have had a chance to decrease, there can be a compound effect – multiple low-level bad experiences can cause high levels of stress, which makes the dog more likely to panic or have an aggressive outburst.

TTouch

Tellington TTouch is a system of body work and massage created by Linda Tellington-Jones and intended to work with all animals that can be handled.  There is no published research demonstrating the effect of TTouch in dogs, however practitioners claim that it can be used to relieve anxiety and other behavioral problems.