eileenanddogs

Month: December 2019

6 Ways to Prepare for the Bangs and Booms Starting NOW

6 Ways to Prepare for the Bangs and Booms Starting NOW

Is your dog scared of fireworks? Don’t wait until the holiday hits. Even with just a couple days’ lead time, you can make a plan and take action now to help your dog be a bit less afraid of the unpredictable scary sounds of fireworks, firecrackers, whistles, and even guns.

Get Ready

Here are some things you can do starting today or tomorrow.

  1. Check into medications. If your dog gets very anxious about noises and you have never talked to your vet about it, do so now. He or she may be able to prescribe something to help. And if you can’t get in before the holiday, do your best with some of the other ideas here to get through it and call your vet as soon as you can. This is a long-term problem. Sound phobias tend to get worse and are not something to be taken lightly.
  2. Countercondition to noises. Get some great treats and start carrying them around. Whenever there is any kind of sudden or startling noise, including stray bangs and booms as people start to test their noisemakers, rain treats down on your dog. Use those special treats only for noises; don’t pass them out for nice behavior (use something else for that!), and don’t ask for any particular behavior from your dog when the noise occurs. Just give the special treats.

    You may wonder why I am not recommending buying an app, CD, or YouTube video with fireworks sounds to “practice” with. Performing desensitization/counterconditioning with sounds is tricky.  People who haven’t done DS/CC before run a real risk of scaring their dogs further instead of helping them. This is why I am suggesting this method, which uses environmental noises that are happening anyway. Save the formal training for after the holiday, when you can keep your dog safe from accidental exposures to the sound.
  3. Create a safe place. Make (or adapt) a safe place for your dog. Keep in mind that the flashes of light that come with big fireworks displays can be scary too, so consider a method to temporarily darken any windows nearby. Also, low-frequency booms can’t be “soundproofed” against except with materials that are much too big to use inside a house. Get the best protection you can in a basement or your most internal room. Despite the marketing claims, dog crates with walls a few inches thick can’t dampen low-frequency sounds to an effective degree. But if a crate is your dog’s safe place, that’s great. Here are some examples of safe places for dogs.
  4. Play sound or music. Experiment with sound masking to find out what is most helpful for your situation. Try some kind of recorded white or brown noise, natural noise, or music to mask the pops and booms. (Even a noisy food toy can be helpful.) This approach is evidence-based and is called sound masking.

    And here’s a tip: the lower the frequencies included in the masking or music, the better it can hide those low-pitched booms (Kinsler, Frey, Coppens, & Sanders, 1999, p.318–320). So if your dogs are already habituated to pounding rock music or some other music with a lot of bass or percussion, play it! And play it on your best sound system so as to include those low frequencies. It can mask some of the scary noises coming from outside your house more effectively. Taiko drumming is great if your dogs are accustomed to it. You can buy a few songs and loop them or find some on YouTube. But be absolutely certain that the music itself doesn’t scare your dogs first. If they are already sensitive to booms, it probably will.

    Household appliances can help. Some floor fans hit fairly low frequencies and can be helpful. You can run the dryer (no heat) with a pair of sports shoes in it for some booms that will probably be familiar and not scary. You’ll need to find the line of best fit for your dogs.

    The perfect resource for some households is the Bang-Dog Playlist from Triplet Noir Studios. These are heavy metal selections (be aware that some of the language is not family-friendly). Before anyone mentions it: heavy metal has not ranked well in the dogs and music studies, tending to make shelter dogs more agitated. That’s not surprising. But if you play it already and your dogs are fine with it, they are habituated. In that case, this music could be the very thing for you and your dog.
  5. Practice going out. Make a plan for taking your dog out to potty. Do you know when the noise is usually at its worst and can you work around that? Are your fences and/or leash and harness secure? If your dog is not used to being on-leash for potty time, start practicing now, including getting the harness on. Dogs who are usually sedate have been known to panic and run off on noisy holidays. Don’t let that happen.  Keep your gates locked, your dogs’ ID tags on, and put some redundancy into your safety system.
  6. Comfort your dog if that helps. LOSE that idea that there’s something wrong with comforting your dog, if that’s what your dog wants. Helping a dog through a tough time is not “coddling.” Assess what is most helpful to your dog: a cuddle, food or a fun game after every scary noise, some lap time, sweet talk, being in their crate with a food toy, or hiding by themselves in a secluded place. Then help them do it. If they want to hide, let them.
The best part of thunderstorms: spray cheese!
The best part of noisy holidays for Summer was spray cheese!

Check out more resources and tips on my page “You Can’t Reinforce Fear.

Another good resource is this article by Val Hughes: My Dog Fears Fireworks and Thunderstorms—What Should I Do To Help? Her article has suggestions for both long- and short-term solutions.

Thanks for reading!

© Eileen Anderson 2015                                                          

IAABC Writing Mentorships With Eileen Anderson: 2020

IAABC Writing Mentorships With Eileen Anderson: 2020

Are you stymied about how to start a blog? Stuck three-quarters of the way through writing a memoir? Wanting to get a more consistent look and style with your client handouts? Needing information about self-publishing? I can help!

I am offering writing mentorships for trainers and behavior professionals through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) again in 2020. You can bring any writing projects to the mentorship, from outlines to final drafts, and get intensive one-on-one help. My coaching and the course materials will help you improve your writing and better represent your business. And you can do this while collecting some serious CEUs through your professional organization (see below).

The mentorships start on January 12, 2020. During the eight-week course, I will provide individual coaching to up to 15 mentees with writing projects of their choice. There will be print and video course materials and a weekly videoconference.

There are also spots for auditors. They will be able to view all written discussions in the classroom between the mentor and mentees, will have full access to the supporting course materials, but will not take part in the videoconferences or submit their own projects.  

Read the official mentorship course description and register here. 

The link above will tell you “who, what, when, and where” about the mentorships. But here I’m going to tell you the “how and why.”  How will they work and what will it be like for participants? And why should you sign up?

How Will the Course Work?

I already get lots of assistance with my writing

The mentorships take place in an online classroom. The classroom allows for several kinds of interactions. When I created the structure of the course, I wanted to be sure there would be plenty of material in addition to the one-on-one editing/coaching. I created nine video lectures and supporting printed materials. The videos and printed materials cover style sheets, time management, motivation, organization, voice and audience, writing tools, editing tools, search engine optimization, references and plagiarism, and collaboration.

During the course, I’ll also post resource lists and timely articles on writing and the writing industry. I will provide startup assignments and information on typical business documents for mentees who want help with writing but don’t know where to start. We’ll probably have a silly contest or two. Mentees will upload or link their individual projects so we can work on them together. Auditors and other mentees will view our discussions and the editing process.

Documents we can work on include but are not limited to articles, blog posts, class handouts, behavior assessments, biographies and other marketing materials, announcements, grants, reports, and books. Fiction is welcome.

The mentees and I will have weekly videoconferences. When I started this mentorship, I didn’t realize what a pleasure these would be, nor how they would help the mentees become a community. We usually have some amazing crowd-sourcing moments, and mentees often end up doing peer reading for each other during the course and after it is finished. Writing can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be if you take advantage of the community available through the mentorships.

What’s Special About the Structure of the Course?

  1. I will not be grading anything. We’ll all push aside the “write-it-for-a-grade-and-hope-the-teacher-likes-it” paradigm. That’s not what mentorship is about.
  2. I will be your hired coach. You can tell me the types of assistance and critique you want, or you can turn me loose and say, “Help!” We’ll figure out the best way to work together. My goal will be to help you improve your writing skills so you can turn out some great documents. I’ll help you get unstuck if that’s what you need. My help won’t be painful or embarrassing.
  3. Our chat content will not be subject to critique. We will do a lot of communicating in a chat interface. Even though this is a writing mentorship, the spelling and grammar police are not invited to chat conversations. Abbreviations, shortcuts, hasty punctuation, and other chat conventions will be fine. Nothing in the mentorship will be critiqued except the mentees’ projects, and then only by me unless a mentee requests feedback from others.
  4. Introverts needn’t worry. The group activities are not mandatory, and I’ll do my best not to put you on the spot. I’m an introvert too, and although I love the social aspects of the mentorship, I won’t be pushy about participation.
  5. Psst. You don’t even have to be an animal behavior professional. The topic is writing, and the concepts I teach and that we discuss are universal to communicating effectively in English. Most of the projects and many of my examples are animal behavior-related, but people with other interests or from different professions are welcome.

Why Take the Course?

You can get mega-CEUs at the same time you solve writing problems that have been plaguing you for months! Or you can use the synergy of being with a group of like-minded writers to get a jump start on a whole new project.

Previous mentees have brought full-length books, both memoirs and non-fiction. We have worked on blogging a book and booking a blog. Mentees have brought handouts that present the challenge of technical writing for a lay audience. We have had long discussions on voice and many mentees have worked on theirs. A couple mentees have found out that they can write humor! I have had the pleasure of working together with mentees on short stories. We’ve worked together on the structure of a professional website. And of course we’ve worked on blog posts—lots of blog posts.

The Value of Coaching

Even if your writing is already very clean, you have no motivation problems, and your website is state of the art, you can still benefit from coaching.

Top-level professional singers use vocal coaches for their entire professional careers. Professional athletes likewise receive coaching as long as they compete. Having an expert outside observer and teacher is essential. It allows professionals to get more information about their tasks and feedback on their skill sets. It prevents them from falling into idiosyncrasies. It gives that invaluable second pair of ears or eyes.

So why not writers? Writing skills can always develop; we are always improving. Calling on a mentor doesn’t mean you are helpless or unprofessional. It’s not about getting a grade. It doesn’t have to hurt your ego. It’s about getting an outside perspective and expert feedback.

Improving your writing will help you communicate better with your peers, provide clearer instructions to your clients, and present a more polished public appearance. And participating in this writing mentorship is fun.

Register for the writing mentorship here.

A Note from a Participant

Eileen Anderson is the consummate writing coach and professional who can help weave your human voice into your emails, handouts, and website with all of the proper information including appropriately written science-based references.

Eileen is not only enthusiastic and encouraging, she is also in expert in the field that you are writing about. This class is a rare opportunity to be mentored and coached to keep the level of your written correspondence and materials on par with your knowledge-based expertise.

Benita Raphan
Yes, plenty of writing assistance

Writing Samples

You can read my bio on the mentorship page linked above, but I’m also providing some writing samples here. Since my voice in the blog is casual, I’ve included some documents that demonstrate more formal styles.

Copyright 2016 Eileen Anderson

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