About Eileen

I live in the mid-Southern U.S. and have three dogs. I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance, and a master’s degree in engineering science with an emphasis on Active Sound Cancellation (noise control). I work for a non profit agency that helps impoverished women access health services. I keep my hand in the technical world doing database design and IT work at my job, and free Apple tech support for some friends. I have worked as a performing musician and also as an academic editor.

I came to dog training a typical way: I got a dog with problem behaviors. This was Summer. After a brief but all too long stint with local trainers who mixed aversives and rewards, I found the positive reinforcement training community on the Internet, then locally. I got turned on by learning theory and the wonderful realization that force-free training is not only humane and kind, but is science-based and shown to be extremely effective in training all animals.

It has become a passionate hobby and I spend the bulk of my free time training, learning about training and dog behavior, and sharing what I have learned.

What I offer in this blog is this: a window into what I learn from training dogs, and videos of dogs actually learning behaviors. My mechanical skills as a trainer don’t rise about the B level most of the time. I don’t practice timing enough, and I am not too good at raising criteria. (See the Blooper movie or Lumping It: A Public Service Announcement.)

But sometimes seeing the “warts” can be more helpful than seeing an expert run a dog who already knows tons of behaviors through a variant of something they already know. Those dogs tend to learn way faster than the dogs of us non-professionals. Or rather, our dogs obviously learn just as fast, but perhaps not what we were intending to teach them.

My own life experiences, particularly in teaching, curriculum design, technical writing, and making technology accessible to lay people often can give me a sense of what may help people get over a hump in understanding or execution of training problems. I’m a pretty good problem solver and communicator, and I love a challenge. I hope to help some other people, learn from them and their dogs as well as mine, and spur some good discussions.

Upcoming appearances and media kit.

My training philosophy.

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Other Places You Can See My Work

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40 Responses to About Eileen

  1. … and thank you for the time and effort you spend sharing with us other dog lovers and blooping trainers.

  2. Thank you, and also, dogs. It is very very rewarding to me. I can’t imagine why I didn’t write like this years ago.

  3. Neil Aaland says:

    Eileen, fun to read about your passion. We got a dog three years ago (first one since I had one as a kid), and he’s overall been a delight to have. He certainly has his frustrating parts, too, but overall we like having him around.
    I still hope that someday we can get together….since the last time was when you were up in Tacoma performing about thirty years ago! Love, Neil

    • Thanks, Neil! Yes it would be great to see you someday. That’s so cool that you hiked the John Muir trail. I enjoyed your pics. Certainly a view that most of us never get to see. Love, Eileen

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  5. Sue says:

    Hi Eileen!
    I just found your blog and I love your doggie family and that they are all rescued! We have 4 rescued little funny monsters, too (and 6 horses). We will be trying the new cue/old cue with our silly Huckleberry boy-he jumps up on my husband in certain circumstances and we needed an inspiration of where to go. Thanks! I look forward to getting to know your pack-I already have crushes on the whole crew 🙂 We use clicker training on our horses, too-it is such fun! Thanks for being out here and sharing your adventures with your adorable four pack 🙂
    Sue

    • Hi Sue! Thanks for your kind words. Anybody with crushes on all four of my dogs is a good friend already! We had horses when I was a kid and I always kind of wondered whether they even liked people very much….now that I see horses trained with positive reinforcement I know what the problem was back then. We weren’t particularly mean, but there wasn’t much fun in it for them. I love seeing clicker horses now. They are having such fun themselves. Let me know how it goes with Huckleberry. Your husband knows that if he EVER reinforces Huck while he’s in the jumping up position the behavior won’t fade away no matter what else you do, right? Good luck.

  6. suzyallman says:

    Hey Eileen: Just wanted to let you know that I think you must have had a great family upbringing to tackle the range of experiences you’ve had. You seem very self-reliant and “can do”. Love it, and looking forward to following your blog. Suzy

  7. Hi Eileen, just found your site and enjoyed reading about you and the articles I have read so far. I am a force free dog trainer in Queensland Australia and will be using some of your articles to assist the students, and educate others on the techniques trainers like us use. Thanks for being who you are. Carmel Hodgins, Smart Paws Dog Training.

  8. Deanne says:

    Hi Eileen! I’m happy to find your blog and the “Training Levels” Yahoo Group and books. We have a lot in common– I’m an informatics specialist working at a conservation non-profit; I’ve recently stumbled on clicker-training and I’m sponging up all the information I can get! I enjoyed the first article I read and I’m looking forward to more.

    • Hi Deanne! Sounds like we do have a lot in common! Glad you like the blog and hope to hear more from you.

      • Deanne says:

        Hey there Eileen! Love your latest post! I am doing that with my two dogs and it is working pretty well. I learned it from Kikopup’s Emily Larlham, and also Kathy Sdao at ClickerExpo. I pretty much can’t do any other training in the house without doing mat-work with the “waiting” dog at the same time. Oh, and have you read *Fired Up, Freaked Out, and Frantic*? It’s great and covers mat-work and the amazing things that can happen from doing it.
        Take care and Happy Clicking!
        Deanne

  9. herbyme says:

    Eileen, thanks so much for your blog. I really appreciate your honesty, good humour and of course, your sweet dogs. I really love the way you have taken time to understand and accept their individual personalities, and your approach has encouraged me in my efforts to better communicate with my dog, and to embrace his own brand of dogginess! I don’t always get my clicking and treating right, but I’m so pleased I found out about positive methods on the good ol’ internet. They have added benefits too, I think, because they help foster deeper bonds between dogs and their humans. Thanks for helping to blaze a trail!

  10. Melissa Bishop says:

    Hi, Eileen.
    I’m so happy to have come across your blog! A friend and fellow trainer has been posting a few of your recent entries on Facebook. I love the way you write, as well as your message. I am also very interested to read that you got your degrees in music performance (and engineering science—how cool!). I am a professional musician, and I know several really good dog trainers (Sue Sternberg and Tracy Sklenar come to mind) who have come to the field of dog training from a career in music. Someday, I want to write an article about how what I have learned about dog training (operant conditioning, learning theory, animal behavior) has helped me to become a better musician.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!
    ~Melissa

    • Nice to meet you, Melissa! Thank you for your kind words.

      What do you play? Or do you sing? I come from a whole family of singers, but grew up playing several instruments and ended up playing the harpsichord.

      Probably the biggest things that I carry over from music are being willing to practice skills and do lots of repetition, and a way of looking at the big picture that is hard to describe but you probably understand.

      I have a pet project I’m going to do one of these days. I’m going to teach one of the dogs (I used to think Zani, but she is the least skilled at auditory stuff. Probably Clara instead.) a musical pitch as a cue for a behavior, broadcast from a speaker in another room so there will be no visual cue at all. When we get it solid, I am going to start testing with other pitches and see how precise the dog’s pitch memory/recognition is. I’ve read varying reports. Pavlov tested it, but he used classical conditioning (of course).

      One of these days!

      Thanks for writing.

  11. Melissa Bishop says:

    Nice to meet you, too! I play clarinet in the Navy Band in Washington DC. My husband is a trumpet player, and enjoys playing a lot of early music, so I’m happy to hear you play harpsichord. One of my favorite instruments! We met at Indiana University. Do you still play?

    Have you seen this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y82sYIDxDoc Maybe you can do this with one of yours. 🙂

    I agree that the skills we learn as musicians—like repetition, breaking things down into smaller parts, and understanding the value of practice—can help us be better dog trainers. One of the skills I have learned as a dog trainer that I incorporate in my musical practice now is back-chaining. My clarinet professor in college mentioned this concept to me, but at the time 20 years ago, I thought it was just one of his “out-there” ideas, so I didn’t appreciate it then. Even today, when I tell my own children about it, and try to get them to do it while they practice their own instruments, they are resistant, and think it is one of mom’s kooky ideas. Ah, karma….

    Thanks for writing back.

    ~Melissa

    • Come to think of it, one of my teachers recommended learning the end of the piece first. I had forgotten that!

      I don’t play much. There just isn’t time to do all the things I’m interested in!

      Yes, I’ve seen that video and the other ones. They drive me crazy! There are so many cues going on. It would be so cool if she would take it the step further it would take to be convincing. The day she steps behind a screen and plays random non-patterned notes and the dogs play them back to her will be the day I start to take the pitch recognition seriously. The training is amazing; I just don’t quite know what she has trained!

  12. IzzyJ says:

    Just found this blog through the Bark Busters piece you did, which was posted on Facebook by a friend. The blog is excellent and really useful. I and my three dogs will be learning with you! Thanks for taking the time to share with us.

  13. lynn says:

    Hello Eileen

    Thank you for your blog and your videos. I recently took a Karen Pryor training, an abbreviated version of their professional training intended for pet owners. it was great fun for the dogs and for me, but i would like to keep learning. Your blog helps me do that!

    In reading through your blog i saw mention at one point of a training club. That sounded like just what I need. Recently I had some feedback from professional trainers that my treat delivery is very poor and the dogs don’t target the target stick, they watch the treat hand. This is one of several areas where I feel I could use some coaching or feedback from humans on my training as I develop. I asked the trainers if they would consider hosting a training club. I am not sure they are enamored of the idea. They may envision a time when their facility is packed with non-paying former customers. I, on the other hand, need some ongoing feedback and coaching and I simply can’t afford to pay the NYC going rate of $100/hr for a trainer’s attention. Plus, from your site i can see that you can learn from watching others’ mistakes and a club would be a great place for that. Additionally I think it would keep up the energy and the focus.

    Do you have any thoughts on how we might structure such a club? You belong to one, don’t you? In NYC there currently is none. If the trainer is not interested in hosting it or sponsoring it I might do I myself or find another training facility that is game. I ask you because your site is the only place I have seen anything about one of these clubs from the perspective of a member. Any thoughts appreciated, and thanks for what you do!

    Best, Lynn

    • eileenanddogs says:

      Hi Lynn! Glad you like the blog. I’m going to send you an email about the training club idea. Thanks for the comment!

  14. I can’t find anything on your Youtube channel or the channel of Paws4fun about how to train the “retrieve to a container”, and I’d like to try that with my dog. Could you do a blog post on it, please?

  15. Jill O says:

    Hi Eileen,

    You are an inspiration to me! I have been a professional dog walker for 2 years now and I have felt so frustrated by my own lack of understanding about non aversive training. It’s so frustrating when I know that tradition methods don’t feel right but I don’t know what to do instead! The is so much advice out there that is unhelpful at best and cruel at worst. You seem to have a video for so many of the things I need to know and I love how clearly you explain what and why you do things. You have already changed the way I care for dogs I board in my home. The dogs barking at the noises made by neighbours has always been my biggest stress but now I am armed with treats and as soon as I hear any sounds coming from my neighbours I get in there first and start rewarding the dogs BEFORE they start barking! So simple yet I hadn’t thought of that! I pick up my own new puppy in 6 weeks and I am so excited about the kind methods I’m learning for you that I am going to use to train her . Thank you! x

    • eileenanddogs says:

      Jill, you made my day. Thank you so much for letting me know. Your kind words fire me up to write more. Good luck with your pup! Have fun!

  16. margaret Whinham says:

    Thank you for your video on dementia it has reassured me. My dog Molly is 15 and has dementia I was told she would die soon. I was upset and thinking about her when I came across your article. It helped me immensely thanks again

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      My little Cricket lived two years after her diagnosis, and they were good years. Good luck to you and Molly. Thanks for writing.

  17. Juanita Boutwell says:

    Eileen, thanks so much for your book on ccd. The vet thinks my Sadie might be in the early stages, so your book came just at the right time for us. The vet put her on supplements, and we are going to take Donna Hills Fenzi class on games starting Dec 1 so I will have lots of ideas for fun things to do. Thanks again.

  18. Pingback: Entrainement au renforcement positif | Le Chien Coureur | Éducation & promenade canine

  19. Nats says:

    Hi Eileen! I came about your website via a South African facebookpage (Animal behaviour Consultants of South Africa) and when I saw the video you made on Cricket calling in Clara the puppy, I was sold! 😀
    I watched some of your other video’s on your youtube channel, and I really enjoy listening to your calm voice and seeing your dogs react to it! I am currently studying to become a dog coach myself as I always wanted to work with animals, and since a few years I’ve been doing volunteer work at my local SPCA shelter.
    Just wanted to say: great job!
    Kind regards, Nats

  20. Auntysocial says:

    Officially my new favourite person and “go to” for all things related to dogs and training 😀

  21. I just found your site. I have enjoyed reading a few of your blog posts and will be coming back to read and watch. I watched the piece about petting – I’ll have to video Franklin – I do believe he loves petting – he leans into me and paws for more … he is a various anxious dog and has so many issues – I’ve been through 4 trainers and equipment galore (he is 85 lb GSD mix 4.5 yrs I adopted 7 months ago – he pulls, is leash reactive to dogs, chased my cat into hiding upstairs for last 7 months, isn’t good in car, with vet, – I hope to learn more from your site and posts on my journey to help Franklin and me!

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Welcome! That’s great that Franklin loves touch. You might want to check out the Fearful Dogs and Reactive Dogs groups on Facebook. They are both very helpful and straightforward, no gimmicks. It can be hard having a difficult dog; thanks for doing all you’ve done to help him.

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