The Wide World of Training Terminology

Have you ever started reading a dog training article, encountered a lot of terminology you hadn’t heard before, and felt a bit lost? You aren’t alone! The world of dog training is full of words and shorthand that can seem like another language at first, and can make it feel harder to get the information you need. Here are a few of the common terms and abbreviations you might see in the dog training world:

  • R+: an abbreviation for “positive reinforcement”, R+ refers to training that relies on adding something pleasant to make a behavior happen more often. This could be treats, play, praise – whatever your individual dog finds rewarding. This training style is also called rewards-based training and is the type of training we do here at Rover Rehab because it is proven to be both effective and humane!
  • Fear-free: training that explicitly does not use force, corrections, or coercion to meet your training goals and change your pet’s behavior. Did you know that trainer Lyz is a Fear Free Certified Professional?
  • Aversive: an event or tool that causes pain, fear, or emotional discomfort. This is something we avoid during training as it increases the odds that our dogs will show fear or aggression!
  • Dominance Theory: the theory that many dog behavior problems stem from dogs wanting to be “dominant” over humans, and that humans must be the “alpha” in order to solve behavioral problems. This theory is common, but did you know that it isn’t actually true? It is based on a debunked study of captive wolves, and it turns out that our dogs don’t think that way at all! Instead of being the “alpha”, focus on being a benevolent guardian for your dog.
  • Desensitization (DS) and Counter Conditioning (CC): training techniques where we gradually introduce our pets to things they might be uncomfortable with and pair the experience with good things. These techniques are helpful for reactivity, aggression, fear, anxiety, and more!
  • Cue: a signal to a dog to perform a specific behavior. At Rover Rehab we intentionally use “cue” in place of “command” to signify that our dogs are sentient beings who can make choices!

Are you feeling overwhelmed or confused by all the training and dog parent information on the Internet? Do you want access to helpful resources, professional training advice, and a community of dog guardians who know what you’re feeling? I have a support community designed just for you!

Make It Click is a Patreon community all about training, enriching, and loving your canine best friend. Joining us on Patreon gives you access to biweekly Office Hours with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (me!) as well as other canine professional guests, invitations to monthly webinars and group classes, inclusion in community events like enrichment creation time on Zoom, plus bonus podcast episodes. All for just $10 a month! Find us at

Looking for more customized training support? Book your consultation today!


Contact Us!


Mailing Address: PO Box 1046 Arlington, MA 02474

Hear From Past Pet Parents

Conor and Lauren

“Lyz was absolutely the assistance we needed to create a great positive environment for our dogs and gain the tools needed to succeed”

– Conor and Lauren

Chris K.

“Lyz zeroed in on a plan that was successful and fun for us and our dog.”

– Chris K.

Mary and Jim

“Not only is our dog getting all of the training and enrichment she needs, but we have also gotten the support and encouragement we didn’t know we needed…”

– Mary and Jim