Power of Choice

Animals often have little or no choice about what happens in their daily lives. Humans select animals’ food, specify which objects are appropriate toys, decide when and where they can go outside, and more. This lack of choice can be associated with increased stress, and often results in a variety of undesirable behaviors. Fortunately, when animals are allowed – and even encouraged – to make more choices, this stress can be reduced, making everyone in the household happier!

Part I: This Session, focuses on how choice works: the science behind choice, and the importance of choice in animal training. It also addresses the fallout of taking choice away, as well as the many benefits of increasing choice for animals. The conscious application of choice will transform your training.

This Session includes videos, audience participation, and examples.

Part II: Allowing animals greater control over their environment, through methods such as clicker training, can reduce stress and improve training outcomes. As trainers often joke, the trick is to let the animal think he or she is in charge of the training! One excellent way to do that is to increase the number of choices available to the animal.

This second part of a two-part Session on the topic of choice highlights a variety of training techniques that offer greater choice for animals. It addresses why choice is especially critical when dealing with undesired behavior. It also explores how to create choice-rich environments, as well as provides tips on how to teach animals to make choices that work both for them and for their humans.

This Session includes videos, audience participation, and examples.

Irith Bloom

Irith Bloom, KPA CTP, CPDT-KSA, CDBC, CBATI, VSPDT, has been training animals since the 1980s, and has worked with everything from chickens and rabbits to dogs and horses—not to mention humans. A biologist by training, Irith continues to be fascinated by the science of learning, and loves taking part in conferences and seminars.

Irith has presented at a variety of conferences, including ClickerExpo and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) Annual Conference, and has given webinars for the APDT and the Society for Veterinary Behavior Consultants. She has also written numerous articles for ClickerTraining.com, and has been published in The APDT Chronicle of the Dog and Everydog. Irith is a member of the Steering Committee of the Los Angeles County 2020 Healthy Pets Healthy Families Coalition, a One Health Initiative focused on improving the health and well-being of pets and their people. She also volunteers with National English Shepherd Rescue.

Irith is the owner of The Sophisticated Dog, a pet training company based in Los Angeles, California, that specializes in private training and behavior consulting. She shares her home with a rescued English shepherd named Franklin and her husband Aaron (not a rescue).