But My Dog Is Not Food-Motivated

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When clients say “But my dog is not food-motivated” in an initial interview, my response is “not yet.” Eating is an operant behavior. Therefore, we can increase its probability and intensity and lower its latency through structured training procedures. While this might seem laughable if you have a ravenous Rottweiler or always-hungry hound, situations that require skilled intervention abound: a senior dog with a fading appetite; a wary dog that has learned to distrust treats; a little dog that is fussy about meals; or a dog threatened by conditioned anorexia. While various medical conditions (requiring veterinary expertise) may create finicky eaters, so can unwise behavioral practices. We’ll review several common mistakes and provide alternatives.

Kathy Sdao

Kathy Sdao is an applied animal behaviorist. She has spent more than 30 years as a fulltime animal trainer, first with marine mammals and now with dogs and their people. Kathy received a master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Hawaii. The United States Navy then hired her to train dolphins for open-ocean tasks. Kathy next worked as a marine-mammal trainer at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Later, Kathy co-created Tacoma’s first dog-daycare facility, where she began teaching clicker-training classes.

Since 1998, Kathy has owned Bright Spot Dog Training. Services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs, teaching private lessons, and mentoring professional trainers. Kathy is proud to be an original faculty member at Karen Pryor Clicker Training’s ClickerExpo conferences.

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. Her first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace was published in 2012.