Clicker Training Glossary

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  • Aversive

    Any circumstance or event that causes pain, fear, or emotional discomfort.

  • Back-chaining

    Training the last behavior in a chain first, then training the next-to-last behavior, and so on, taking advantage of the Premack principle.

  • Balanced training

    A combination of traditional or punishment-based training techniques and other training methods like clicker training.

  • Behavior

    Any observable action or response exhibited by an animal.

  • Behavior chain

    A series of behaviors linked together in a continuous sequence using cues, with reinforcement provided at the end of the chain.

  • Bridging stimulus

    An event marker, such as a clicker, that identifies the desired response and "bridges" the time gap between the response and the delivery of the primary reinforcer.

  • Calming signals

    Subtle body language signals used by dogs to indicate stress, avoid confrontation, and diffuse aggression.

  • Chaining

    The process of combining multiple behaviors into a continuous sequence linked together by cues and maintained by reinforcement at the end of the chain.

  • Classical conditioning

    The process of associating a neutral stimulus with an involuntary response until the stimulus itself elicits the response.

  • Clicker

    A toy noisemaker used as an event marker in clicker training due to its unique, quick, and consistent sound.

  • Clicker training

    A system of teaching that utilizes positive reinforcement in combination with an event marker (clicker) to shape and modify behavior.

  • ClickerExpo

    A clicker training conference organized by Karen Pryor Clicker Training, featuring lectures, hands-on labs, performances, and networking events.

  • Combined training

    A training approach that incorporates all five principles of operant conditioning along with the use of a marker signal (clicker) to modify behavior.

  • Compulsion training

    The traditional style of dog training that involves modeling or compelling the dog to perform a behavior, often accompanied by physical corrections for noncompliance.

  • Conditioned punisher

    A conditioned stimulus that signifies the impending delivery of an aversive consequence, used to deter or interrupt behavior.

  • Conditioned reinforcer

    A neutral stimulus that has been repeatedly paired with a primary reinforcer until it acquires the reinforcing properties of the primary reinforcer itself.

  • Conditioned stimulus

    A previously neutral stimulus that, through repeated association, triggers a conditioned response.

  • Consequences

    The outcomes or results of a behavior that can influence future occurrences of that behavior, according to the principles of operant conditioning.

  • Continuous reinforcement

    The simplest schedule of reinforcement where every desired response is reinforced.

  • Correction

    The application of a physical aversive to communicate to the dog that it has performed something incorrectly, often followed by guidance to achieve the desired behavior.

  • Counter-conditioning

    The process of pairing a stimulus that elicits one response with another stimulus that elicits an opposite or desired response, aiming to replace the animal's apprehension with pleasure or positive associations.

  • Criteria

    The specific, trainer-defined characteristics or standards that define a desired response during a training session.

  • Crossover dog

    A dog that has previously been trained using non-clicker methods and is now undergoing clicker training.

  • Crossover trainer

    A trainer who previously used non-clicker methods to train animals and has now adopted clicker training techniques.

  • Cue

    A signal or stimulus, such as a verbal command, physical gesture, or environmental cue, that prompts an animal to perform a specific behavior.

  • Desensitization

    The process of gradually increasing an animal's tolerance to a particular stimulus by systematically exposing them to it in a controlled manner.

  • Differential reinforcement

    A training technique where some responses are rewarded while others are not, promoting and reinforcing desired behaviors.

  • Environmental reinforcer

    Any desirable element present in the animal's environment that can be utilized as a powerful reinforcer for desired behavior.

  • Event marker

    A signal used to mark and identify the occurrence of a desired behavior at the precise moment it happens, with the clicker being a common example.

  • Extinction

    The weakening or reduction of a behavior by withholding reinforcement or ignoring it, eventually leading to its diminished occurrence.

  • Extinction burst

    A temporary increase in the intensity or frequency of a behavior when it no longer receives reinforcement, as the animal tries harder to obtain the previously reinforcing consequence.

  • Fixed interval

    A schedule of reinforcement where the desired behavior is reinforced after a specific period of time, such as every minute.

  • Fixed ratio

    A schedule of reinforcement where the desired behavior is reinforced after a specific number of responses, such as after every third correct response.

  • Four quadrants of operant conditioning

    A model that categorizes the consequences of behavior into four quadrants: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment.

  • Habituation

    The process of becoming accustomed to and no longer reacting to repeated exposure to a previously meaningful but now meaningless stimulus.

  • Head halter

    A device similar to a horse's halter, used to gain control over a dog's head during leash walking and facilitate management and training.

  • Interval reinforcement

    A schedule of reinforcement where the trainer reinforces the desired behavior according to a specific time interval.

  • Intermitent reinforcement

    Intermittent reinforcement is a schedule of reinforcement utilized in cat training, whereby the trainer chooses to reinforce the desired behavior randomly (intervallic) every time the behavior is exhibited.

  • Jackpot

    A significantly larger or higher-value reward given to the animal for an exceptionally exceptional effort or performance.

  • Keep-going signal (KGS)

    A signal, verbal or otherwise, given during the performance of a behavior to inform the animal that it is on the right track and should continue doing what it is doing.

  • Latency

    The time interval between the presentation of a cue and the occurrence of the desired response. Ideally, the latency should be minimal or immediate.

  • Luring

    A technique that involves using a reward or target to guide the animal into performing a desired behavior without physical manipulation.

  • Marker

    A signal or event marker, such as a clicker, used to mark and communicate the precise moment a desired behavior occurs to facilitate learning and reinforcement.

  • Modeling

    A technique used in traditional training where the dog is physically guided or compelled to perform a behavior by the trainer, often without active participation from the dog's cognitive processes.

  • Negative punishment (P-)

    The removal or loss of a desired resource or reward following a behavior to decrease the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.

  • Negative reinforcement (R-)

    The removal or avoidance of an aversive or unpleasant stimulus following a behavior to increase the likelihood of that behavior recurring.

  • No Reward Marker (NRM)

    A signal or cue used to indicate to the animal that the behavior it just performed did not earn a reward, allowing the animal to try again or modify its response.

  • Operant conditioning (OC)

    The process of changing an animal's behavior through the manipulation of consequences that immediately follow the behavior. It involves the principles of reinforcement and punishment.

  • Permanent criteria

    The characteristics or standards of a behavior that are present in the final desired behavior and should be consistently trained to a high level of reliability.

  • Play-Train

    A training session in which we get the cat into play mode and channel that energy into behavior chains. This sessions tend to be very dynamic.

  • Poison(ed)

    A term used to describe a previously reinforcing stimulus or cue that has lost its reinforcing value for the animal.

  • Positive punishment (P+)

    The addition or application of an aversive or unpleasant stimulus following a behavior to decrease the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.

  • Positive reinforcement (R+)

    The addition or presentation of a desirable or rewarding stimulus following a behavior to increase the likelihood of that behavior recurring.

  • Premack principle

    A theory stating that a stronger or preferred behavior can serve as a reinforcer for a weaker or less preferred behavior.

  • Primary reinforcer

    A reinforcer that the animal is inherently motivated by, such as food, water, or sex.

  • Proofing

    The process of training a behavior to be reliable and consistent in the presence of various distractions, environments, or conditions.

  • Punishment

    The application of a consequence that reduces the likelihood of a behavior occurring again in the future.

  • Rate of reinforcement

    The number of reinforcers delivered for desired responses within a specific timeframe, which can significantly influence learning and behavior.

  • Ratio

    A schedule of reinforcement based on the number of responses required to earn reinforcement.

  • Reinforcement

    The process of providing a consequence, either through addition or removal, that increases the likelihood of a behavior recurring in the future.

  • Reinforcer

    Anything that the animal finds rewarding or desirable and will work to obtain, serving as a consequence that strengthens behavior.

  • Release word

    A verbal cue or command that signals the end or completion of a behavior, replacing the event marker (clicker) once the behavior is well-established.

  • Respondent conditioning

    The process of associating a previously neutral stimulus with an involuntary response until the stimulus itself elicits the response, also known as classical conditioning.

  • Secondary reinforcer

    A conditioned reinforcer that has acquired reinforcing properties through association with a primary reinforcer, even if it is not inherently rewarding.

  • Shaping

    A technique that involves reinforcing successive approximations or small steps towards the desired behavior, gradually molding and shaping the final behavior.

  • Series

    Combination of two or more behaviors without any reinforcement in between.

  • Spontaneous recovery

    The reappearance of an extinguished behavior after a period of time, even without further reinforcement, though it typically diminishes again.

  • Stimulus

    Any change in the environment that can be detected by the animal's senses and elicits a response or behavior.

  • Stimulus control

    When a conditioned stimulus becomes a discriminative stimulus, signaling the occurrence of a specific behavior or cueing the animal to perform a particular response.

  • Successive approximation

    The process of reinforcing and shaping behavior by progressively reinforcing closer and closer approximations to the desired final behavior.

  • Target

    An object, location, or body part that the animal is trained to touch or interact with as part of a behavior or training exercise.

  • Target stick

    A handheld or portable target used to guide and direct the animal's movements, often utilized in shaping behaviors or teaching targeting exercises.

  • Temporary criteria

    Intermediate or stepping-stone criteria that are part of the training process but will not be present in the final desired behavior.

  • Three-fer

    A training scenario where the animal must perform three behaviors to earn one click and one treat.

  • Variable interval

    A schedule of reinforcement where the desired behavior is reinforced after varying periods of time within a specified range.

  • Variable ratio

    A schedule of reinforcement where the desired behavior is reinforced after varying numbers of correct responses, promoting high response rates and resistance to extinction.

  • Variable schedule of reinforcement

    A reinforcement schedule that is based on variable intervals or ratios, combining elements of both fixed and variable schedules.

  • Timing

    The precise and accurate timing of the event marker (click) or reinforcement delivery in relation to the occurrence of the desired behavior.

  • Traditional training

    Refers to training methods that rely on compulsion, force, modeling, negative reinforcement, or punishment, in contrast to positive reinforcement-based methods like clicker training.

  • Training period

    A designated period of time allocated for training activities, which may consist of multiple training sessions.

  • Training session

    A focused and structured period of time dedicated to training, which may involve specific goals, criteria, and reinforcement schedules.

  • Two-fer

    A training scenario where the animal must perform two behaviors to earn one click and one treat.

Please note that this list covers a wide range of terms used in clicker training, but there may still be additional concepts or variations specific to certain training methodologies or individual research studies.