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 used coercive techniques, including balanced trainers who mix 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.

My training philosophy.

Guidelines for comments. 

Addendum, 1/10/13
Here is an interview I completed for the Pet Friendly Blog challenge, about six months after I started this blog. It tells a little more about why I blog and what my goals are.

Connect with Eileen Anderson on: Google+

23 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

  4. Pingback: 2013 Pet Blogger Challenge | eileenanddogs

  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 🙂

    • 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!

  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!

    • 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? http://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.


    • 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.

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