About eileenanddogs: Passionate amateur dog trainer, writer, and learning theory geek. See more at http://eileenanddogs.com.

The Last Trip To the Vet: What If Your Pet’s Last Breath Is on the Operating Table?

Alex in the foreground, with Rusty and Andrew behind him—photo from 1993. Yes, they are in a bathtub. Many years ago I lost Alexander, my dear, dear cat to stomach cancer. This was before veterinary medicine had the technology that’s available today. It was also before I took as proactive an approach to my animals’ health and welfare needs as […]

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Herrnstein’s Matching Law and Reinforcement Schedules

When we bake cookies, some reinforcement is on a variable interval schedule. Have you heard trainers talking about the matching law? This post covers a bit of its history and the nuts and bolts of what it is about. I am providing this rather technical article because I want something to link to in some other written pieces about how the matching law […]

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A Quadrant by Any Other Name is Still a Cornerstone of Operant Learning

This 2003 edition book is $4.89 on Amazon. Contents: priceless. There is a science that deals directly with how organisms learn and how to use that information to change the environment in order to change behavior. It’s called applied behavior analysis (ABA). It is the applied version of behavior analysis, which was referred to as the experimental analysis of behavior […]

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Which Pavlov Is on Your Shoulder?

The trainer Bob Bailey is often quoted as saying that when one is training an animal, “Pavlov is on your shoulder.” He is reminding us that while we are training operant behaviors (sit, down, fetch, weave), there are also respondent behaviors and respondent conditioning occurring. Respondent behaviors are behaviors that are generally involuntary and that include reflexes, internal surges of […]

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My Dog Is Afraid of the Clicker. What Should I Do?

I wrote this article especially for people who are either new to using a clicker or have not dealt extensively with a fearful dog. If your dog is scared by the noise of the clicker, slow down. Switch to a verbal marker for now. Don’t immediately focus on trying to achieve softer clicks. Here’s why. Rat terrier Kaci says, “Train me!” […]

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What’s a Functional Assessment in Dog Training? (And Why You Should Care)

A lot of dog training advice you get on the Internet won’t help. Pretty strange comment coming from a dog blogger who frequently writes about training, right? But even if people recommend a humane, positive reinforcement-based approach, something is missing that can’t be done in a typical online discussion. That’s the functional assessment. A functional assessment, or functional behavioral assessment, […]

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Higher-Order Conditioning: Did it Happen To My Dog?

  The other day I was sitting in my bedroom with Clara and Zani and the doorbell rang. And there was dead silence. This pierced my heart. If you follow the blog, you know that I lost my dear dog Summer suddenly in August. She was wonderful beyond compare. She also barked reactively at delivery trucks, the mail carrier, anyone […]

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