A woman giving her puppy a command in a field

Basic Dog Training Vocabulary

Throughout this series, you’ll hear common dog-training terms that we want you to understand. We’ll also provide you with a few helpful reminders while navigating your training journey. 


First, let’s explain some of the common terms you’ll hear from Melinda and some helpful examples.  

Prompting: anything physical or material that is used to encourage a dog to perform a particular behavior.  

  • One way to prompt is by luring. Luring: physically guiding your dog using your hand or body, like using a treat in your hand to guide them on the place board. 

Capturing: rewarding & marking a specific behavior the moment it happens. This can be done with a verbal marker like “yes” or “good dog.” 

  • We typically want to capture behaviors when they happen on their own, like giving a “yes” when they go lay on their bed without being prompted. 

Shaping: selectively rewarding small pieces of behaviors to build more complete and advanced results. 

  • We always want our dogs to have a foundational understanding of a behavior or command before building on it. When teaching waits, we start at the household doorway thresholds, then shape the behavior by asking them to wait before darting out of their crate door or wait before jumping out of a car.   


Tips for Being More Effective in Your Training Journey 

  • Reinforcement drives behavior, so the more you reinforce the behaviors you enjoy, the more likely you will see these behaviors reoccur and more naturally. We spend a lot of time letting our dogs know which behaviors we do not find desirable, but we have to make sure we are also letting them know when they're engaging in good desirable behaviors. So make sure you always have food rewards to be able to reinforce good behavior out in the world so you don't miss good training moments. 
  • Timing is everything! The delivery of your reward should be within seconds of the proper behavior. If you wait too long to deliver a reward, you can tie the reward to the wrong behavior. Training moments are fleeting, and you have to be able to capture them when they are happening, which is part of the beauty of creating value for a marker.  
  • A critical element of any kind of dog training is consistency—in the training schedules you set to teach new behaviors, as well as in when and how you ask for these behaviors. A dog must experience multiple repetitions of training in order to understand what the specific behavior is and the cue tied to it. The more consistently you use the same cue, practice regularly, and include everyone who closely interacts with the dog, the faster they will comprehend the training. 
  • Set your dog up for success! We are not trying to trick them and we want them to be able to succeed so having control over your training situations and moving at a pace that allows them to find success will also help reinforce new behaviors. 
  • Take it slow and work at your dog’s pace. Don’t forget to ask for help! There are so many certified trained professionals that can help keep you on track with your dog or at least provide you feedback in your training.  

Remember that the ultimate goal of training your dog is to help create a line of communication so we can effectively guide them through this human-dominated world. It takes time to truly get to a point of absolutely understanding each other better, but beginning with teaching markers to identify proper behaviors is a wonderful place to start.