Kathy Sdao

Kathy Sdao is an applied animal behaviorist. She’s spent 30 years as a full-time animal trainer, first with marine mammals and now with dogs and their people. As a graduate student at the University of Hawaii in the 1980s, she was part of a research team that trained dolphins to solve complex cognitive puzzles. She received a master’s degree in experimental psychology and was then hired by the United States Navy to train dolphins for applied open-ocean tasks. After that, Kathy spent five years as a marine-mammal trainer at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma Washington. There she expanded her training skills by working with beluga whales, walruses, porpoises, sea lions, seals, otters and polar bears. After leaving the zoo world, Kathy and a colleague created Tacoma’s first dog-daycare facility, Puget Hound Daycare, where Kathy first began teaching clicker-training classes for pet owners.

Since selling Puget Hound in 1998, Kathy has owned and managed Bright Spot Dog Training. Services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs, teaching one-on-one training lessons, and coaching novices and professionals to cross over to positive-reinforcement training. In addition, she has trained animal actors, written for The Clicker Journal and the Seattle Times, consulted with Guide Dogs for the Blind and Susquehanna Service Dogs, served as a subject-matter expert for the Delta Society’s “Service Dog Education System” and taught at the Instructor Training Courses hosted by Dogs of Course. And, in a sillier moment, Kathy appeared as the “Way Cool Scientist” on an episode of the television show Bill Nye the Science Guy. Kathy is proud to be one of the original faculty members for Karen Pryor’s long-running ClickerExpos and has taught at 32 of these popular conferences since 2003.

Kathy has traveled extensively across the United States, Canada and Europe, and to Australia, Israel, Japan and Mexico, educating students about the science of animal training. She’s taught nearly 250 seminars, workshops, conference presentations & webinars, enjoying these opportunities to share her passion for the incredible power of positive-reinforcement training, confirmed over decades of working with dozens of species.

Kathy’s first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace, was published in 2012 and is available from Dogwise; please see www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB1246 for details.

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  1. What Not to Pair: Changing the Value of Reinforcers & Punishers
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  2. Changing Behavior by Arranging Antecedents
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  3. Keep Your Candle Burning: Avoiding Professional Burnout
  4. How To Transform a Trigger Into a Cue
  5. In Other Words: Extending Non-violence to Clients & Colleagues
  6. “But my dog isn't food-motivated.”
  7. Beyond Food: The Premack Principle
  8. Leash Aggression
  9. Caring for Old Dogs’ Behavioral Needs
  10. Behavior Chains - Chains are Good for Dogs
  11. Plenty in Life is Free: Alternatives to Rank-based Training Models
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