Five Years of Eileenanddogs

Fifth Anniversary of Eileenanddogs blogFive years ago today I published my first blog post.

It included this training blooper movie I made, still one of my favorites. If you’d just like a smile today, stop right here and check out the video.

When I set out to be a blogger, the main thing I knew was that I had something to say. A lot of things to say. The problem was that I was Continue reading

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Posted in Announcement, Event announcement, Milestone, Retrospective | Tagged | 16 Comments

Am I a Wimp for Caring About My Dog’s Emotions?

Maybe it’s my upbringing, but I always flinch a little bit at the use of the language of emotions when talking about training. So even though my relationships with my dogs are primary and important, I hesitate to talk about “bonds” or “trust.”  It sounds so…I don’t know…California. (I can say that because I’m from there.)

The thing is that most of the people who are out there talking about magical energy and bonds and leadership and trust and all those other things we can’t describe concretely are Continue reading

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Posted in Aggression, Dog body language, Fear, Resource guarding, Stress Signals, Training philosophy | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Helping Your Dogs Get Ready for Fireworks

Canada Day and U.S. Independence day are both coming up. I’ve updated my fireworks preparation page with some new tips on keeping dogs as safe and calm as possible. Check it out and make your preparations!

You can access the page below. Feel free to share!

6 Ways to Prepare your Dog for Fireworks

Summer cheese 2

© 2017 Eileen Anderson

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Posted in Fear, Management, Sound sensitivity | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Helping Your Dogs Get Ready for Fireworks

Preventing Dog Reactivity with a Barrier

My back door opens onto an elevated wooden porch. There are ten steps down to the yard. The top of the steps provides a view into the neighbor’s yard, which can be a very interesting place. Clara runs there when anything might be happening, primed to react. In the picture above Continue reading

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Posted in Arousal, Dog body language, Dog training hints, Management, Reactivity | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

The Opposite of Force

Clara's pool provides enrichment she can choose when she wants

Clara playing by herself in her pool

I think I’ve figured something out.

I continue to see the concept of choice bandied about the positive reinforcement-based training world. It can be a code word for a setup that includes negative reinforcement. “I’m going to do something physically unfamiliar or unpleasant to you and you have the choice of staying here and getting a piece of food or leaving and being relieved from whatever it is I’m doing.” I’ve suggested that this is not a laudable kind of choice; as trainers we can use our skills and take our time so that the dog doesn’t want to leave in the first place.

It can also refer to human-centric preference tests, many of which are subject to extreme bias.

But here’s my new realization. Continue reading

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Posted in Choice, Enrichment, Training philosophy | Tagged | 14 Comments

Are You SURE Your Dog Prefers That Food Toy?

It just occurred to me that it is super easy to make assumptions about how much our dogs prefer a particular food toy, or even whether they really enjoy them that much.

Don’t yell at me. To be clear: I use food toys for my dogs every single day. I think they can be enriching and that they are ethical things to use.

But food toys present us with a funny little problem. Continue reading

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Posted in Classical conditioning, Enrichment, Food toys, Reinforcement | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Tossing Cookies: Delivering Treats and Toys in Dog Training

One thing I notice about experienced trainers is how well they can deliver food to dogs. Usually their hand motions are both fast and quiet, and the food goes just where they intend. This may sound like a minor issue, but it’s not. The mechanics of training are the key to successful, efficient training and a non-frustrated dog.

The way we deliver food in training needs to further our goals. There are times when Continue reading

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Posted in Dog training hints, Food reinforcers, Treats | Tagged | 13 Comments

I Failed to Falsify—Twice! (Falsifiability Part 2)

Graffiti on a brick building that says, "False"

Photo credit carnagenyc: see bottom of page

I want to share just how tricky this falsification stuff can be. In the last few weeks I’ve received two comments from readers that pushed me to rethink some things I’ve written. They were both presented very constructively, offering some ideas in the spirit of good dialogue and the search for truth. They included fascinating questions that Continue reading

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Posted in Choice, Critical Thinking, Research, Terminology | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want: 9 Ways Preference Testing Can Go Wrong

Two hands offering different treats to a dog in an attempt at a preference test

What’s your favorite color?
Do you prefer pie or ice cream?
Which shirt do you like better: the striped one or the solid green one?

Most of us have been asked our preferences since we were children. Sometimes we are being asked to make a choice: if we choose the striped shirt we won’t be wearing the green one also. If we are asked to choose enough times, our preferences often become clear.

With the best intentions, many of us are attempting to determine our dogs’ preferences by Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Choice, Research | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

How I Helped My Dog Love the Sound of Velcro

small black dog Zani gazes at a Lotus Ball toy with Velcro enclosures

Velcro, a type of fastener with two different fabric surfaces that adhere to each other, typically makes a loud ripping noise when pulled apart. Some dog harnesses, coats, medical supplies, and other gear use Velcro closures.

This ripping sound can be aversive. Some sound phobic dogs are triggered the first time they hear it. And some dogs who are OK with most sounds may find it unpleasant when Velcro is unfastened close to their ears.

I recently “inoculated” my dog Zani against fear of the Velcro ripping sound. Zani has a Continue reading

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Posted in Desensitization and Counterconditioning, Review, Sound phobias, Training plan | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments