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kooikerhondje; hiking; Eileen Koval

Eileen Koval, CDBC, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, MSc

 

I am a behavior consultant and proponent of a relationship-based approach to training -- building a deep personal bond with your dog by learning to communicate clearly and positively with your dog, understand their rich communication, and fully understand and meet their needs as an individual.  My husband and I have Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes that we enjoy training and occasionally competing in dog sports, including agility, conformation, and scent work.  I am a fully certified dog behavior consultant by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).  I have thousands of hours of education, thousands of hours of experience working with dogs, and submitted successful behavior case studies on varieties of difficult behavior issues, colleague and veterinarian recommendations, and completed a rigorous application process...all of which enabled me to achieve this prized credential.  I am also a certified behavior consultant canine (CBCC-KA) and certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) after passing their rigorous exams and meeting veterinarian recommendation and experience requirements.  All these credentials require continuing education credits to ensure that I am using the best techniques and scientific knowledge available in the field.  I am constantly pursuing education from veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers as well as providing it to others through courses and presentations as a credentialed expert in my field. Additionally, I have a Master of Science degree from the University of Arkansas in Operations Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Kentucky University in Geography and History.

Behavior modification and training should improve animal welfare, not compromise it.  

We do NOT use shouting, fear or intimidation methods in our training.  We do NOT use painful tools such as shock, prong/pinch collars, noise aversives, choke chains, or leash/collar corrections. 

Below is the Humane Hierarchy, developed by psychologist and animal behaviorist Dr. Susan Friedman, to guide the evaluation of behavior issues and crafting behavior modification solutions.  The Humane Hierarchy is considered the gold standard in both the human and animal behavior fields for addressing behavior issues both ethically and effectively.

 

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As a fully certified dog behavior consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. I offer private consulting for serious pet animal/dog behavior issues, obedience/manners, and agility training to local and worldwide clientele. I developed a game-changing methodology to help pet parents and trainers develop autonomous snake avoidance behavior off-leash with their dogs via positive reinforcement techniques.  These methods do not involve any use of fear, coercion, or pain on the dog. I evaluate situations from the dog’s perspective — taking into account who they were bred to be with both natural-selection and human-selected pressures, their socialization and learning histories.  We train them to detect both visible and hidden snakes, and teach them to make good behavioral choices through building value in choosing avoidance of the snake. These techniques have been applied by trainers worldwide to teach dogs reliable avoidance of dangerous environmental hazards and off-leash property boundaries using positive reinforcement methods. I also designed, manufactured and marketed a kinder, safer dog head halter — the Gilly Halter.  The Gilly Halter allows dogs to engage in natural movement and behavior while reducing pulling on leash.​

 

Another part of my work is speaking at conferences and presenting workshops worldwide on dog behavior and training. My work hinges on looking at the animal and their human family from a welfare-based and relationship-based perspective.  The foundation of a good cross-species relationship is understanding the needs and normal behavior patterns of each dog as an individual, as he/she was bred to be. It is my mission to help humans and their pets communicate more effectively to create brilliant relationships with joy, purpose, and fulfillment for all species involved.

 

Many years before working full-time with dogs, I worked as an intelligence analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, and US Air Force Central Command (USAFCENT) over the span of a decade. I enjoyed my work and especially took pride in serving my country. A highlight of this work was connecting with the people I had the chance to meet and work alongside.  Some people considered it a “downgrade” to leave such a career field to work with animals. In making the career switch, the effects of my work are experienced at a more personal level in the homes and lives of individual people and animals.

 

As I have grown in this career, I have also been fortunate with opportunities to reach a global audience by speaking at events as an industry leader and promoting positive approaches based on needs and wellness. ​No matter how many dogs and people I meet, every dog-human team is unique. No two teams are alike, so every day is a new challenge. It is rewarding seeing the personal milestones and achievements that each animal and their human make — together. People often ask me to “fix their dog”, but behavior does not exist in a box. Unwanted behaviors can stem from internal issues (like genetics, learning, socialization issues), medical issues (pain/discomfort/illness/neurological), or can stem from things in the environment (which is largely controlled by the human and includes the dog-human relationship). Behavior — whether it is desirable or unwanted — is communication about what the animal needs. This is something that I am always reminding clients who may feel trapped by their dog’s undesirable behaviors. But this communication is information that then — after reflection and gaining perspective — presents us with choices for moving forward to address it in a way that brings about happiness and wellness for everyone involved.

Eileen Koval and then-CIA Director Porter Goss

Eileen Koval (right) and then-CIA Director Porter Goss at her graduation from the CIA Intelligence schoolhouse in 2006

I am honored to be referred for behavior and training expertise by dozens of veterinary clinics throughout Las Vegas and Henderson, as well as board-certified veterinary behaviorists from outside my local area.  Behavior expertise is something that takes time, continued education as well as extensive experience.  It is not a hobby or side-job.  While the changes can be transformational, behavior expertise is not "whispering" or magic either.  Expertise requires dedication and pursuit of knowledge.

I became interested in advanced dog training and behavioral work many years ago when one of our dogs began to suffer from severe fear issues, including extreme noise phobias.  We were lucky to find a wonderful animal behavior consultant -- Debbie Revell, CDBC -- who helped us address these issues.  This experience piqued my interest in understanding applied animal behavior and completely opened my world.  Behavioral issues like these were common reasons why people surrender their dogs to shelters, but these issues can often be successfully addressed.  I continue to take classes and network with other respected behavior consultants and veterinary behaviorists to maintain working knowledge of the newest techniques and ideas on psychology and learning, particularly applied to animal behavior. 

I help clients communicate more effectively with their dogs to solve issues, whether it is motivating and training a new puppy in the basics of obedience; working with aggressive dogs; destructive or problem behaviors in the home; or helping an agility team smooth out communication on the course to reach that next level of achievement. 

© 2023 by Confident Canines LLC

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