Alpha, Bark, Collar: A Dictionary of Dog Terms

In 2012, 36.5% of American households had a dog as a pet. 


Having a dog as a pet can be a great addition to your family, but training it can be difficult. 


Use this dictionary of dog terms to dive deep into the world of your canine companion. You will learn the basics and advanced training words as well.



Alpha is related to dominance when it comes to dogs. If a trainer calls your dog an alpha, that normally means the dog thinks that it's the one that's in charge. 


The dog will always be in charge and will always get their way. Some dog trainers are fine with the dog being an alpha among other dogs as long as the behavior isn't violent or concerning.


However, you should make sure that your dog knows that they are not an alpha over you.



When you train your dog or take your dog to a professional trainer, the goal is to ultimately change your dog's behaviors. These could be things that will just be like instinct to them.


Some of the behaviors of a dog could be like barking, jumping on furniture or people, growling, and running away. 


These can be behaviors that can be changed with condition and training thankfully.



Consequences are something that normally happens after a behavior. This could be either a negative or a positive thing. 


However, the dog will eventually be conditioned to expect a consequence after a certain behavior, whether it is good or bad. 


For example, to get your dog to sleep in a crate, you could reward the behavior with a treat, so they know there is a good consequence of sleeping in their crate.


To make sure the size of the crate is correct, check out this article on Pet Crates Direct.



Desensitization is when you expose your dog to a stimulus or trigger that they don't like. It's a way of using exposure therapy to help them overcome their fears. 


As they are exposed more to it, it won't be as traumatizing for them.


For example, if your dog is scared of fireworks, you can play recordings of fireworks. You can work your way up until they can finally tolerate the sound of fireworks without freaking out. 


You should expose them to the trigger gradually because if it is all at once, they may not be able to handle it. It could even make the situation worse. 


Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is one of the key dog terms listed.


Learned helplessness is when a dog gives up on trying to escape a bad situation.

This is bad behavior, and it can be the same as a depression similar to humans. This learned helplessness can also cause anxiety in dogs as well. 


Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is used to help get dogs out of a learned behavior or habit.


For example, if a dog does something bad, you may spank your dog. However, if your dog doesn't do that behavior, the punishment doesn't happen. To be able to use this method of training, you should be in control of whether or not the punishment can be taken away. 



The marker is something that triggers the dog to realize that they are going to be rewarded.


It could be a sound, an object, or even the words "yes" or "good. The marker should be present as soon as the good behavior happens to that the dog is able to connect the two. 


No matter what marker you choose, it should be the same all the time. 



The personality of your dog is important when it comes to training. 


Their personality is made up of their emotions, mental attributes, behavior, and temperament. 


Each dog is different, so you have to learn what yours is to have the most effective training. 



Socializing your puppy is one of the most important things an owner can do to start training. 


You have to introduce them not only to other dogs, but to new people and places as well. If you introduce them early, they will see it as a normal way of life and not something to be scared or anxious about later on.


This phase is important especially for a puppy who is between four and sixteen weeks old. 



Stress is often used as another word for distress when it comes to training dogs. 

The dogs can experience stress for all kinds of reasons, whether it is environmental or not. 


For example, a dog may feel stressed out if they aren't getting enough exercise or attention. If they are forced to move or are dealing with a new pet in the house, they may start to show these signs of distress. 



Threshold is used when you're talking about your dog's emotional state. 


If your dog is relaxed and calm, then they are deemed under the the threshold. A dog who is anxious and restless would probably be over the threshold. 


Warning Signals

If your dog starts exhibiting warning signals, they are most likely trying to communicate to you that they're uncomfortable with a certain situation. 


A dog will normally use these signals if they want you to back off because they are about to bite you. 


As a trainer, you should heed the warning signs and not punish a dog for them. Instead, you should try and resolve the situation so that the dog isn't provoked to bite. 


Learn These Dog Terms

Learning some of these key dog terms can really help you when training your new pup.


Training a dog takes patience and time, but you don't have to do it alone.

Look for a professional dog trainer to help you today!