Glossary

Capturing

A method of getting behavior by simply waiting for it to happen and rewarding the animal when it does. For instance, you might capture a bow in your cat when she stretches after a nap. Every time you see the stretch happen, click and treat your cat. Eventually, you can add a verbal cue.

Clicker training

The use of a novel sound (a click) as a marker to indicate the precise moment a desired behavior occurred. The click also indicates that a reward is coming. It is a science-based, humane and fun method for training any animal species.

Counterconditioning

Providing something rewarding (e.g., treats) to help an animal associate a negative or scary stimulus with a positive experience, and/or asking for an alternative behavior (sit, target, etc.) that is incompatible with the undesired behavior (such as hissing or running away). Often combined with desensitization.

Desensitization

Exposing an animal to a negative or scary stimulus gradually in such a way that does not cause her to feel negative emotions (anxiety, fear). Often combined with counterconditioning.

Luring

A method of getting behavior by using food or another enticing object to help place the animal in the desired position. Lures can include targets, toys or food. This can be an easy way to get a behavior, but if the lure isn't faded out of the scenario within a few trials, the animal may become dependent on the presence of lure to perform the behavior (e.g., "my cat only sits if I have a treat.")

Shaping

A method of getting behavior by rewarding small steps (sometimes called successive approximations) toward the final behavior. For instance, if you want to get your cat to spin in a circle to the left, you could first click and treat (c/t) a head turn to the left, then a weight shift to the left, then movement of his left front paw, then a quarter turn, then a half turn, then all the way around.

Target/Targeting

A target is an object that an animal has learned to touch with some part of his body. Targeting is the action of the animal touching the object. Targeting an object with its nose is often the first behavior taught to a clicker-trained animal, because it tends to be an easy behavior to achieve and helps the animal learn the game of clicker training.