This page is a component of the Glossary of the Dog Science, CBC
Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network
In a very general sense, when we say that someone's behavior has been conditioned, we just mean that things have happened to them in the past which have caused them to feel as they do and behave as they do.
When we say that our goal is to condition a dog's behavior, we mean that we plan to teach him what we want him to do, and that we further plan to arrange his situation and the circumstances of his life in a way that will guarantee that he will actually want to do it.
Focusing more narrowly, the term conditioning is often used to refer to the processes that create and influence behavior. Therefore, when we say that we are conditioning a particular response in a dog, we mean that we are arranging his physical and social environments, and lining up all the necessary contingencies in a way that will cause the animal to begin emitting that response, or stop emitting the response, as the case may be.
The words training and conditioning are sometimes used interchangibly.
Behavioral science recognizes three types of conditioning.